Public enemy No. 1? Ed Kinane goes to his Sept. 8 town of Geddes court appearance in shackles.
According to Kinane, who has previously done time in federal and local prisons, he walked around the State Fairgrounds on the late morning of Sept. 1, Labor Day, just after the conclusion of the parade. He was dressed as a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where 270 “enemy combatants” are being held by U.S. authorities; 775 prisoners have done time at the camp since it was opened in 2002. Kinane wore an orange jumpsuit, a hood over his head, clothesline shackles on his legs and a sign on his chest saying “Close Guantanamo.”
Kinane was accompanied by bank teller and soccer coach Rae Kramer, who was wearing a T-shirt with the same message. Kramer said she and Kinane stood for about a minute in front of an Army recruitment booth until a soldier shouted out, “He can’t stand here!”
“We moved over a bit,” said Kramer, and shortly afterward, a pair of state troopers arrived. According to Kramer, a trooper asked her and Kinane for ID and told them that they were not allowed to stay in the area. “She said we were causing a disturbance,” said Kramer. “We were obviously disturbing the Army guys.”
Court papers identified the officer as Trooper Brigitte E. Dillon. State Police from Troop D barracks in Oneida did not return repeated calls requesting comment on this matter.
Plainclothes fair security joined them and after some discussion the troopers asked Kinane to leave. Kramer said the troopers told her they were on private property, and also asked her to remove her T-shirt, which she refused to do. Kinane was escorted out of the area and given the option of either removing his costume or leaving the fairgrounds. He refused to take off the offending garment, and was eventually taken to the town of Salina court, where Judge Paul Carey ordered him held in lieu of $1,500 bail.
Four days after his arrest, Kinane was interviewed through a glass partition at the Justice Center downtown, in one of the rooms designated for secure visits. The room is shared with three other people, and there is a great deal of noise and shouting. Unlike in the movies, there is no telephone that connects the visitor with the inmate, so conversation involves repeating things multiple times. Visitors are not allowed to bring anything into the room, thus pen and paper are not allowed. In an interview conducted with these limitations, it was still possible to get an outline of Kinane’s version of events.
State Fair public relations director Fred Pierce later recalled that he noticed Kinane, whom he knows but did not recognize in his prisoner costume, and notified State Fair civilian security to be alert for any disturbance. “When I saw him in the jumpsuit I alerted our security,” said Pierce in a telephone interview, “because I anticipated trouble directed toward him. I specifically said not to do anything to him. There were no laws being broken. I just wanted a pair of eyes on the situation.”
The decision to arrest Kinane, according to Pierce, was “a judgment call, made by the State Police. They’re charged with enforcing the statute.” Political protests, said Pierce, are allowed in a specified area outside the main gate of the fair, and by permit. “Obviously people demonstrating have a right to do so. We just have to make sure it is done in such a way as it doesn’t impede the ability of people to enjoy the Fair. The Syracuse Peace Council was there earlier in the week, conducting a peaceful protest, and didn’t cause any problems.”
As far as the State Fair being on private property, Pierce said that is not the case. The State Fairgrounds are owned jointly by New York state’s Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the Industrial Exhibits Authority. “It’s definitely public property,” he continued. “People have a right to be there, and to express their opinion. There are still laws to be followed. I’d be interested to see the police reports. The Army guys were upset. They called the troopers.”
Said Kinane, “Both presidential candidates agree that we should close Guantanamo. And there are a lot of T-shirts at the Fair with a lot of opinions.”
Asked about those T-shirts, Pierce said that while he could not speak to the specifics of the incident without seeing the police report, in general, “Our policy is based on public health and safety. Wearing a T-shirt isn’t a problem. It’s part of freedom of speech. It’s when it’s part of a protest that it becomes a problem. If you are standing by the Army recruiters wearing a jumpsuit, that’s a protest.”
Was Kinane doing anything that caused a problem? “No,” admitted Pierce. “He was walking. It was sort of like a little bit of street theater. It’s clearly a political message he was trying to get across. He wasn’t creating a traffic blockage. If they were standing by an Army place specifically to make a point, that might have brought it up a notch.”
Pierce later called back to clarify that he only saw a snippet of the event and did not see what happened immediately prior to Kinane’s arrest. “There are people who think it is inappropriate to have the military there, some people who think we shouldn’t have antiwar protests,” said Pierce. “It’s a judgment call, made in this case by the State Police.”
Kinane was charged with criminal trespass in the third degree. He initially refused to post bail. In decades protesting the Iraq War, the U.S. Army School of the Americas and Guantanamo Bay, he has never posted bail, nor does he pay fines. He also insists on representing himself in criminal proceedings.
At a hearing on Sept. 8 before Geddes town Judge John Kinsella, Kinane was released on his own recognizance. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 27.