Five people cited at Beale Air Force Base while protesting the U.S. military's use of drones were arraigned Tuesday in Sacramento federal court on charges of unlawfully entering military property.
Through their attorneys, they pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanors and asked for a trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn K. Delaney set April 15 for a non-jury trial before her. If convicted, each faces a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or a prison term of not more than six months.
* * * *
Tuesday's hearing was preceded by a drone protest on the plaza and sidewalk outside the federal courthouse at Fifth and I streets. The defendants were among the 30 to 40 protesters. Some displayed banners and signs with messages such as "Do the Drones Hear the Cries of the Children Dying On the Ground?"
* * *
Lawyer Mark Reichel said after the hearing that it is likely he and other defense attorneys will argue their clients are entitled to a jury trial.
"This is a political issue," he said, "and these people should have a right to present their case to a jury of their peers, not a judge."