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Actual Supporters of Peace Put Their Bodies on Line to Stop Latest Nobel Peace Laureate's Mass Murder Preparation
Peace activists hinder departure of F16 airplanes to NATO nuclear weapons exercise
As of 7:30 AM peace activists are using non-violent means to try and stop the departure of F16 airplanes from the base in Kleine Brogel. Starting today, Belgian pilots are training for the deployment of nuclear weapons together with their NATO-partners. Small groups of activists are going onto the runway to stop the taking off of the F-16s. Meanwhile, the main gate of the base is being blocked. In this way, Vredesactie and Action pour la Paix hope to prevent the preparation for war crimes.
From 15 to 26 October, Belgian F-16s from the military base of Kleine Brogel are participating in the NATO-exercise “Steadfast Noon” in the German air base of Büchel. This exercise is a way of training for the deployment of nuclear weapons. All NATO-countries that have American nuclear weapons on their territory are participating: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Holland and Turkey. Some other countries are taking on a supportive role.
“The American nuclear weapons stored in Kleine Brogel are not merely relics from the Cold War”, says Roel Stynen from Vredesactie. “This NATO-exercise makes it clear that the deployment of these weapons is being actively prepared. If these nuclear weapons no longer have any military purpose – as we are told – then which scenarios are being practiced?”
Benoit Calvi from Action pour la Paix: “The majority of the population wants these nuclear weapons removed from our country. But our minister dodges any attempt to a debate. Apparently being a member of NATO is more important than having a functioning democracy.”
Preventing the preparation of war crimes
Small groups of activists have entered the base. They head towards the hangars for aeroplanes to stop the departure of combat planes, risking life and limb. Meanwhile a colourful blockade at the main gate stops entry of personnel to the base.
With this action the activists are trying to prevent the preparation of war crimes in a non-violent way. The use of nuclear weapons and the preparation for said use is in violation of international humanitarian law. The International Court has pointed out the fundamental rules of the law of war as applicable to nuclear weapons in its verdict of 8 July 1996.
First of all a distinction must be made between enemy combatants and civilians. It follows that weapons that are incapable of making such a distinction can never be used. Second, it is forbidden to inflict unnecessary suffering to enemy combatants. Therefore, weapons that inflict such suffering can not be used. The consequences of using nuclear weapons cannot be limited in time and space. The nuclear weapons stationed in Kleine Brogel can never be deployed without violating these fundamental rules of the law of war and without committing war crimes.
Belgian criminal law also penalizes these acts of preparation, e.g. in art. 136sexies of the penal code: “the keeping of an object destined for such a crime or which facilitates the perpetration of such a crime”. Participation in this exercise amounts to an active preparation for the use of nuclear weapons and therefore for crimes of war. It also makes it clear that the storage of nuclear weapons in Kleine Brogel is a part of this active preparation.
Belgian peace organizations file a complaint
On October 9 several Belgian peace organizations - Vredesactie, Pax Christi Vlaanderen, Vrede vzw, CNAPD, Action pour la Paix en MIR-IRG - already filed a complaint with the police against this exercise. Tom Sauer (professor of International Politics at the University of Antwerp) participated in filing a complaint: “These weapons are useless and dangerous. It is unacceptable that Belgian pilots are practicing for the deployment of weapons of mass destruction.”
So far neither the department of defence, nor the judicial authorities have indicated that the participation in the nuclear exercise will be suspended, which is why Vredesactie and Action pour la Paix are taking their responsibility to try and prevent these war crimes.
Catholic Worker Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa has been sentenced to serves 6 months in a federal prison for his witness against the use of drone warfare.
Below is a message from Brian and his statement before the court.
Friends, We are just out of court. I have been ordered to surrender to a federal prison not yet designated on November 30 to serve a six months in lock up, co-defendant Ron Faust was sentenced to five years on probation. Below is the statement I made to the court. Judge Whitworth took great offense at my reference to Air Force security personnel as "goosestepping riot police." Comparing our fighting men to Nazis (the judge's word, not mine) was reprehensible, he said. He is not offended, apparently, by goosestepping US military police intimidating nonviolent protestors, nor by Air Force drones committing crimes against humanity and murdering children. Mentioning these embarrassing facts, however, is an affront to good manners.
FOURTEEN NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY PROTESTERS HAVE THEIR CHARGES DISMISSED/SOME WILL PROTEST OCTOBER 9, 2012 AT THE NSA
WHO:The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore is a part of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR], and Pledge members were active with Occupation Baltimore and the occupation of Freedom Square in Washington, D.C. As part of the Freedom Square occupation, NCNR decided to try to obtain a meeting with Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, to discuss perceived illegal and unconstitutional activities by his operatives.
NCNR sent a letter, signed by thirty people from around the country, to Lt. Gen. Alexander requesting a meeting, but there was no response. So on October 9, 2011, approximately 25 people, most of them from the occupation of Freedom Square, went to the NSA, at Fort Meade, Maryland, with a copy of the letter which raised such concerns as NSA spying, its involvement in the extra-judicial killing of U.S. citizens and the firing of Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower. However, instead of getting a meeting with a person of some authority, fourteen citizen-activists were arrested on the road heading towards the guard station. Each of the arrested received three citations: “entering a military, naval or Coast Guard property,” “disturbances on protected property, “ and “control of activities on protected property.”
WHAT:There was an arraignment in federal court on February 24, 2012. Three of the defendants were indigent, and the court assigned each one an attorney. A trial was set for May 29, 2012, but later re-scheduled for October 25, 2012.
However, assistant federal public defender Carrie Corcoran, representing defendant Max Obuszewski, filed several documents, including a Motion for Dismissal. The motion argued that the U.S. government failed to post permit regulations about Fort Meade in the Federal Register, and that the arrests infringed upon the defendants’ First Amendment rights. As Corcoran pointed out in the brief, how would Obuszewski know what was permitted? Fort Meade is an open base, and there is a visitor’s parking lot, two museums and a gas station, all are open to the public.
After some dialogue between Corcoran and James Pyne, the prosecutor, the government decided to dismiss all charges without prejudice. However, should any defendants get arrested at the NSA through October 14, 2013, the charges will be renewed. Presumably, the government dismissed the charges as it as fearful that the defendants would air the NSA’s dirty laundry in court during the trial.
WHEN:Wednesday, October 3, 2012
WHERE:U.S District Court, Courtroom 7C, 101 Lombard St., Baltimore, Maryland 21201
WHY: The citizen activists who went to Fort Meade on October 9, 2011 believe they have the right and a Nuremberg responsibility to meet with National Security Agency officials to prevent further illegal activity. Those arrested have many years of doing direct action in dissent of our government’s illegal operations. Several were from Massachusetts, Beth Adams, Ellen Graves, John Langford and Paki Wieland; Tim Chadwick came from Pennsylvania; Joy First, Wisconsin; Chris Gaunt, Iowa; three from New Jersey--Carol Gay, Jules Orkin and Manijeh Saba; Malachy Kilbride, Virginia; and there were three Baltimore resisters--Ellen Barfield, Marilyn Carlisle and Obuszewski. The defendants were looking forward to airing their grievances during a trial in a federal courtroom.
A great concern is the NSA’s involvement in the illegal war and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. This would include the illegal use of drones in Afghanistan and other countries and the assassination of U.S. citizens. Also there have been alarming revelations about the illegal wiretapping and wholesale collection of U.S. citizens’ phone records. When this was revealed by Russell Tice, he was fired. When Thomas Drake revealed an expensive boondoggle of a computer system, he was targeted for being a whistleblower. In July, 2011, though, the legal case brought against him by the government collapsed.
A number of activists, including Bruce Gagnon, international peace organizer, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, and author of “Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories From a Fading Empire,” plan to vigil at the National Security Agency, on October 9, 2012 at 5:30 PM as part of the Keep Space for Peace Week. It is appropriate that the protests of the NSA will continue on the one-year anniversary of the Freedom Square action.
New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World
Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning? Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds? Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school? Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day? You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.
Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow? Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip? Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast? If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know. And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.
The paperback has been published in two versions, one with slightly better color, slightly better paper, and a dramatically higher price.
Buy the standard paperback from Amazon,
(If you order from Amazon it will ship right away even if Amazon says it won't ship for weeks; it is print-on-demand.)
Buy the premium paperback from Amazon,
Your local independent bookstore can order the book through Ingram.
Anyone can order the book in bulk at the lowest possible price right here.
Buy PDF, Audio, EPUB, or Kindle for $8 right here:
Advance Praise for Tube World:
“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley
“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis
“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie
About Shane Burke:
Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper. You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com
Veterans and Allies Arrested in New York as Afghanistan War Enters Year 12
Twenty-five people, most of them U.S. military veterans, were arrested while laying flowers at a war memorial in New York City Oct. 7. They were engaged in a peaceful vigil to honor those killed and wounded in war and to oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan as it entered its 12th year.
The vigil was held at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in lower Manhattan and began with a program of music and speakers including Vietnam veteran Bishop George Packard, Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Chris Hedges, and Iraq combat veteran Jenny Pacanowski. At 8:30, the protesters began reading the names of the New York soldiers killed in Vietnam who are commemorated at the plaza and the military dead in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At 10:15 pm, the police informed the group that the park was officially closed and that if they remained they would be arrested. Many chose to continue reading names and laying flowers until they were handcuffed and taken away. One of the arrestees was Word War II Army combat veteran, Jay Wenk, 85, from Woodstock, NY.
The veterans had four aims:
- Demand an end to the 11-year war in Afghanistan
- Demand an end to all U.S. wars of aggression
- Remember all those killed and wounded by war
- Stand up for our right, and duty, to assemble and organize
Photojournalist, poet and Vietnam veteran Mike Hastie was the first arrested, after appealing to police not to force the veterans out of the war memorial: “This is a sad day. I was a medic in Vietnam. I watched soldiers commit suicide. I had soldiers’ brains all over my lap. How can you do this? How can you arrest me for being at a war memorial?”
Former VFP President Mike Ferner said, “I bet a lot of the arresting officers tonight were also military veterans; a number of them didn’t look too happy with the job they were told to do.”
“War is a public health problem, not only because of those killed directly, but also for the lingering trauma it causes,” said leading health care activist Dr. Margaret Flowers. “Ending war would be a good preventive health care measure.”
Poet Jenny Pacanowski read part of her poem “Parade,” which began “The funeral procession from Syracuse airport to Ithaca NY was over 50 miles long./Dragging his dead body through town after town of people, families and children waving flags./The fallen HERO had finally come home./I wonder how many children who saw this, will someday want to be dead HEROS too./I did not wave a flag that day or any day since my return.” She went on, “I live in a dream called my life. Where the good things don't seem real or sustainable./I live in the nightmares of the past called Iraq and PTSD that never run out of fuel./Is it better to be dead hero?/Or a living fucked up, addicted, crazy veteran?”
“As long as we keep exposing the truth about these wars, then these people will not have died in vain,” said VFP board member Tarak Kauff.
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters across the U.S. VFP has official "Observer" status at the United Nations, and is the only national veterans organization calling for the abolition of war.
Veterans Deploy to Fort Lewis with Message of Hope for the Troops
Bold Action Coincides With 11th Anniversary of Afghanistan War
WHAT: Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam veterans with the “Our Lives Our Rights” campaign will engage in a week of outreach to soldiers in 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in late October, with the message “You don’t have to go to Afghanistan.” Soldiers will receive information about Conscientious Objection and other legal avenues to avert deployment.
WHERE: Joint Base Lewis-McChord and surrounding area. WHEN: October 7-13, 2012
Tuesday, October 9, 11 am
Coffee Strong, 15109 Union Ave. Suite B, Lakewood, WA (next to Subway)
WHO: The Our Lives Our Rights campaign is an initiative launched by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to help service members exercise their rights—first and foremost, their right to become a Conscientious Objector to war. Two progressive veterans’ and service members’ organizations, March Forward! and Veterans For Peace, will be carrying out this week of action.
WHY: From the Our Lives Our Rights campaign: “The Pentagon’s Afghanistan strategy is up in smoke, exposed in recent news reports. The now-ended “surge” failed to break the momentum of the Afghan resistance, and officials have now abandoned their hope for a peace deal with the Taliban. A “withdrawal” strategy based on training Afghans to replace us has been smashed by “insider killings,” where now those supposed to replace us are the biggest threat to our lives. The Afghan people, like all people, do not want to live under foreign occupation.
“The generals and politicians know their war can never be won, and they admit this behind closed doors,” says Iraq veteran Mike Prysner. “But they refuse to take responsibility for a 'military defeat' on their watch. Millionaire politicians are playing politics with our lives.”
“Over 2,000 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan – more than 250 so far this year alone – and many thousands more have been maimed for life,” says Gerry Condon, a Vietnam era veteran.
“How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?” asks Army LTC Daniel Davis, who traveled 9,000 miles through 8 provinces in Afghanistan before writing a grim assessment of the US/NATO occupation. Colonel Davis is right—nobody else should be sacrificed in a lost cause.
Withdrawing all U.S. troops immediately—as favored by a large majority of American – would be the right thing to do. Instead, our elected 'leaders' in government and unelected 'leaders' in the Pentagon are forcing troops into multiple deployments to go on pointless patrols, simply because they don’t want to be embarrassed.
Soldiers have legal alternatives to going to war. These are our lives, so we should exercise our rights. Now is the time to get help from fellow soldiers and veterans who understand what we and our families are going through.
Organizers are available for interview. Visit the campaign website at www.ourlivesourrights.org.
By Clint Henderson
The internet is full of videos exposing police officers' use of excessive physical force when trying to apprehend or detain "potential criminals". Every year in fact there seems to be an increase in YouTube video uploads, video views, and news stories depicting this type of injustice.
By Dave Lindorff
On the morning of the big march through midtown Manhattan on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004, I and a few friends were having breakfast at a little coffee shop near 96th Street on the Upper West Side. We had a few homemade signs and were clearly headed for a political action. Across from us were three New York City cops, carrying riot helmets, having their breakfast. They were clearly headed to the same place we were.
"What, quite unmanned in folly?" --Lady MacBeth
This past Thursday was a beautiful day for a protest, both in London, England, and in San Diego, California. Fortunately for those of us who still care about peace and justice in the world -- even to the point of opposing cold-blooded murder no matter who does the murdering or how far away the victim is -- Veterans For Peace has become an international organization.
General Atomics is the manufacturer of the Predator and Reaper UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) in service with the U.S. and U.K. militaries. These drones have been used in numerous attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. People targeted by these weapons are killed from above without warning and without due legal process. Numerous entirely innocent people including women and children have been killed by these weapon systems. Here's a former British drone pilot who just admitted that he was minutes away from murdering "an insurgent" when he realized it was a little kid playing in the dirt.
Many of us remember taking over General Atomics' offices in Washington, D.C., last October (video). That's me and Tighe Barry, with filmmaker Dennis Trainor Jr., going in the side door and opening the front door for the crowd.
As it happens, General Atomics does its evil work in San Diego and London. Veterans for Peace has no tolerance for murderous robot planes, wherever they're made. Mike Reid, executive director of Veterans For Peace, said on Thursday, "If we oppose murder at close range, we should oppose it at long distance. If we oppose it when it's risky and difficult, we should be horrified of a practice that makes it trivial and easy. Imagining that drone wars don't damage the very culture of the people engaged in them is naive. Those manufacturing these instruments of death, in particular, should think long and hard about the road they are on."
They had a chance to do just that on Thursday. "On a bright autumn afternoon," reports Ben Griffin, "VFP UK headed to Tower 42, which contains the offices of General Atomics in London. We took our placards bearing the slogans 'GROUND THE DRONES' and 'GENERAL ATOMICS, DEATH FROM ABOVE.' We unfurled our VFP flag donated by Gerry Condon and set about handing out our flyers."
"Within minutes we were joined by over 20 nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. They had heard about our protest and wanted to join in. They were soon into full song and dealt with an inquiring policeman effectively. Folks from Occupy, Friends of Bradley Manning, London Catholic Worker and supporters of Julian Assange also turned up."
Griffin's remarks to that crowd included this:
"People are targeted with these weapons without being identified and are killed from above without warning. Numerous innocent civilians including women and children have been killed as a result of these attacks. Mosques, schools, funerals and meetings of elders have all been attacked by drones. People responding to drone strikes by pulling the wounded out of buildings have also been attacked with these weapons. We must spread the word about these weapons, and the hidden wars they are used in."
And the word was spread to passing cars honking their support, passersby stopping to inquire, and many people who worked in the building, some of them surprised to learn that General Atomics was there as well.
A bit later on Thursday, the afternoon sun reached General Atomics in Poway, California, where, Dave Patterson reports, "Veterans For Peace, Chapter 91, had terrific posters and banners. I think I can say that our momentum is picking up for this cause now in week 6 of sequential demonstrations."
Here's a terrific video.
If you're in Southern California on a Thursday, join the protest from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and General Atomics Way in Poway, CA.
Veterans For Peace is calling for the grounding of Predator and Reaper Drones and for General Atomics to stop manufacturing them. Other members of VFP are currently traveling from the United States to Pakistan as part of a delegation organized by Code Pink to visit one area where U.S. drone strikes have become frequent. VFP is part of a coalition organizing an online petition in support of banning weaponized drones.
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.
David Swanson is an associate (meaning non-veteran) member of and a paid contractor for Veterans For Peace.
Ruth Benn explains the why and how of not paying taxes for war and war preparation. Benn is the Coordinator of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), a position she has held since 2003. She co-edited with Ed Hedemann the fourth and fifth editions of the book War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military, published by the War Resisters League. Benn has a Masters in Education with a concentration in Peace Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She began refusing 100% of federal income taxes owed in 1989 and has filed and refused to send a check to the IRS each year since then. Ruth redirects taxes not paid to the federal government to organizations that feed the hungry, care for victims of war, house the homeless, and work for peace and justice. Ruth regularly counsels people who are considering refusing to pay for war or who have run into problems with the IRS. She attended the International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns in the Netherlands (1989), Washington, DC (2000), and Manchester, England (2008). Learn more: http://nwtrcc.org
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
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By Charles M. Young
Is there anything less threatening than a morbidly obese cop on motor scooter?
OPEN LETTER TO THE CANADIAN PEOPLE AND GOVERNMENT
We are writing you on behalf of thousands of military veterans in the United States who believe that Kimberly Rivera and her family should be allowed to remain in Canada.
As a U.S. soldier, Kimberly Rivera spent six months in Iraq where she witnessed the injustice caused by illegal U.S. war. Home on leave in the U.S., she decided that she could not in good conscience continue to be part of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Kimberly Rivera drove to Canada hoping to find a safe haven for herself, her husband, and their two young children.
Since arriving in Canada five years ago, the Riveras have had two more children, who are Canadian citizens by virtue of being born in Canada. How tragic it will be if these children are deported to the U.S. and then separated from their mother, who would be court-martialed and imprisoned.
Veterans For Peace includes members who fought in the Vietnam War, and also veterans who refused to go to Vietnam and found a safe haven in Canada.
We are extremely grateful to the Canadian people for providing us with sanctuary, along with so much understanding, love and care. Thirty thousand Americans who immigrated to Canada during the Vietnam War are now Canadian citizens who have led productive lives in the arts, academia, media, business and law.
We also want to thank the many Canadians who have supported our young men and women who did not want to return to the carnage of war in Iraq. According to polls, two-thirds of the Canadian people believe that U.S. war resisters should be allowed to remain in Canada. We are very grateful to the community groups, churches, unions, and Members of Parliament who have given so much support to these young people of conscience.
According to the UN Handbook on Refugees, soldiers who refuse to fight in wars that are widely condemned by the international community should be considered as refugees. Unfortunately, the Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada has yet to grant asylum to a single person who refused to kill in the war against Iraq, a war that has most certainly been condemned by peoples and nations around the globe.
Surely there are humanitarian grounds that the Canadian government might invoke to keep Kimberly Rivera and other Iraq and Afghanistan war resisters from being deported to certain imprisonment in the United States.
Veterans For Peace believes that nobody who conscientiously refuses to be part of war should be punished. At our recent national convention, we called on the U.S. government to grant an unconditional amnesty to all war resisters. We will be working toward this goal in the coming months. In the meantime, we call upon the Canadian government to show compassion for these courageous conscientious objectors.
Please do not deport Kimberly Rivera and her four young children to the U.S., where she will face persecution and imprisonment, and her children will experience the trauma of separation from their mother.
The mission of Veterans For Peace is to abolish war altogether. We believe that this goal can be realized and must be realized if human civilization is to survive. Those powerful people who pursue wars of mass destruction are the ones who should be punished, not the poor people we are forced to fight wars for the one percent.
We hope the Canadian government will do its best to represent the will of the peace-loving Canadian people. Please let Kimberly Rivera stay. You will be glad that you did.
Sincerely for Peace,
Leah Bolger, President
Gerry Condon, Board of Directors
Veterans For Peace
Dedicated and disciplined nonviolent activists, and in particular military veterans, are being openly invited to join members of Veterans For Peace in a peaceful vigil in New York City that will as likely as not result in their wrongful arrest and prosecution.
The time will be 6 p.m. on October 7, 2012, as the United States and NATO complete the eleventh year of the current occupation of Afghanistan and launch the twelfth. The crowd at the Republican National Convention cheered for complete immediate withdrawal, but the nominee's plans don't include it. The crowds at rallies for President Obama's reelection cheer for both the continuation of the war and its supposed status as "ending," even though the timetable for that "ending" is longer than most past wars, and a massive occupation is supposed to remain after the occupation "ends." Veterans For Peace, an organization dedicated to the abolition of war, is hoping to inject a discordant note into this happy discourse -- something that the ongoing reports of deaths just don't seem to manage.
The place will be Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza, 55 Water Street, New York City. It was there that some of the same veterans gathering this October were arrested last May First. The memorial is normally open around the clock, but on that day the New York Police Department decided to close it at 10 p.m. in order to evict the Occupy Movement's nonviolent general assembly. Eight members of the Veterans Peace Team and two members of Occupy Faith were arrested for refusing to leave. Since that day, a small metal sign has been posted at the park stating that it closes at 10 p.m. This October 7th, the veterans have a permit for sound equipment lasting until 10 p.m., but they intend to remain overnight.
Vietnam vet Paul Appell says, "War veterans, loved ones of the fallen, and certainly those living in war zones do not have the option of closing down their memories at 10 p.m. There is a good reason why suicide is an attractive option for many. It is truly the only sure way of ending the memories. For a memorial to shut down at some convenient time for the city is an insult to all those who do not have the luxury of shutting down their war memories at a specific time. I know that many want us war vets to go out of sight and not bother them, except when we are needed for some parade. Some of us are not going away at 10 p.m. or any other time. If they do not like it, maybe they should have thought of that before they sent us to war.
Tarak Kauff, U.S. Army, 1959-1962, and one of the organizers of VFP's Veterans Peace Team, says, "We will be there standing together and getting arrested again if necessary for our right to remember the fallen, to oppose and 'abolish war as an instrument of national policy' and to affirm our right to do so in a public place of remembrance that has great meaning for all veterans."
The plan is not for a mass demonstration. In fact, many are explicitly not invited. Non-veterans are enthusiastically welcome, including associate members of Veterans For Peace and anyone else dedicated to ending violence in the world. But "diversity of tactics" is unapologetically rejected. Anyone inclined toward violence, provocation, or threats, including violence to inanimate objects, is kindly asked on this day, to respect the Memorial, the veterans, and the commitment to nonviolence. This event will involve hundreds of activists who intend to peacefully vigil all night, and who will not respond to police violence with any violence of their own.
Speakers at the vigil will oppose a single additional day of U.S. warmaking in Afghanistan. Speakers will include Leah Bolger, Margaret Flowers, Glen Ford, Mike Hastie, Chris Hedges, George Packard, Donna Schaper, Kevin Zeese, and Michael Zweig. Dr. Cornel West has also been invited. At 9:30 p.m. participants will lay flowers for the fallen.
The purpose of this action, which will succeed whether the police interfere or not, is well expressed by several vets planning to take part. Mike Ferner, Navy Corpsman 1969-1973, and past president of Veterans For Peace, says, "I'm coming to NYC October 7th because I need to do more for myself and the world than just get angry at the misery and suffering. Being with my comrades again and standing up for peace uplifts my spirit."
Rev. George E. Packard, Retired, Bishop for the Armed Forces of the Episcopal Church, asks, "How can we, as Americans and compassionate human beings, tolerate even one more day creating a toxic battle environment in that southwest Asian country? We increase the lethality of our weaponry -- more drones, more firepower -- so we can protect our troops and not face the bad news of casualties at home. But it is a useless scheme and one that sacrifices the lives primarily of Afghan women and children, the real collateral damage. Also, this destruction becomes latent in our culture as the postponed agony of PTSD in thousands of troops extends to their immediate families in the United States. Entire segments of our population are sentenced to living addicted or arrested lives because we weren't wise enough to figure out a more humane and effective foreign policy."
Ellen Barfield, Heavy Equipment Mechanic Sergeant, U.S. Army, 1977-1981, adds, "I will mourn the New York U.S. soldiers dead from Vietnam whose names are there on that wall, and the thousands of U.S. and other soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in these more recent wars, and the millions of civilians who were killed in Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan. But I will also express our right to visit memorials and speak out against wars at any time of the day or night. Sadly, war trauma does not sleep, so setting arbitrary curfews at war memorials is cruel and unjust. We will object with our bodies to the repression of mourning and dissent."
Erik Lobo, Navy veteran, remarks, "I will be at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial because the oath I took -- both in the Navy and during 28 years in law enforcement -- to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, does not have an expiration date."
David Ross, Vietnam veteran, explains, "Once again I will be honored to stand with my sisters and brothers and our friends regardless of the inconvenience. I owe this and, looking back over 40 years of veteran organizing, the need to take a stand has never been greater."
William P. Homans, a.k.a. Watermelon Slim, Vietnam veteran, says, "I will be returning to the New York Vietnam Memorial to play Taps. . . . I will also be there because the American right to dissent from 'business as usual' is at risk. I was in the anti-Vietnam War movement back in the early '70s when I returned from Vietnam, and I never considered the absolute right to speak and dissent to be threatened. . . . But mostly I will be there to mourn."
John Spitzberg of Ashville VFP, puts it this way: "I speak for those who have died and for those who are so infirm that they are unable to come to New York on October 7th. We are the living and able who rally for you so that your voices are heard and are not in vain. We come to say 'Enough of this travesty of mindless war, mindless mayhem and devastation.'"
Finally, Kauff, who is doing a lot to organize this event, says, "I have a fury inside me against war and those rich fat cats who perpetrate wars and militarism. Yes, I take it personally. These wars are not about defending freedom or democracy. They have nothing to do with that -- just the opposite. The top-down leaders, the corporate warlords, the politicians, the Masters of War don't give a damn about freedom and democracy, about the lives and money going from the poor and middle class to fight and pay for these wars. They and their kids don't fight, die and come home wounded in body and soul. No, they make fortunes selling weapons while destroying the world. It pains and angers me deeply, and I want to stop it. On October 7th, while grieving for, remembering and respecting the fallen, I will take a stand for my and others' right to peacefully and nonviolently affirm this whenever and wherever we want to, especially at this hallowed place, where memories and reminders of the futility of war never cease, not at 10 p.m., not at any time."
The website is StopTheseWars.org There you can register to participate, whether you wish to stand with the vets after 10 p.m. or to serve in a supporting role.
Bo has already interviewed Daniel Ellsberg, Father Roy Bourgeois, Medea Benjamin, Col. Ann Wright, Martin Sheen, Alice Walker, Phil Donahue, Bruce Gagnon, Camila Mejia, Charlie Clements, Charlie Liteky, Duncan Murphy, Ray McGovern, Lou Wolf, Leah Bolger (current president of Veterans For Peace), Elliot Adams (past president of VFP), Jeff Paterson (of Courage to Resist), David Swanson, Mike Prysner, Carlos Escorcia and others. He still plans to interview Blase Bonpane, Amy Goodman, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Kovic, Ed Asner, Kathy Kelly, Cindy Sheehan & Ramsey Clark. So far we have raised $13,350. We are trying to raise $55,000 by October 11th. Aris Anagnos gave $5,000 for this film. I put in $1,000. Medea Benjamin gave $500. Veterans For Peace LA Chapter gave $500. Veterans For Peace National gave $200. Many people have given $25, Some have given $50. Some $100. Some $200. Some $10. It all adds up. I hope you might be able to give whatever amount you are comfortable with. If you can’t afford any money at all, I do understand.
I have had Brian on two different book tours in Southern California in the last year. He also met me last November at the Annual School of the Americas Protest Vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia, where I tabled his book: “BLOOD ON THE TRACKS: The Life & Times of S. Brian Willson” and he signed copies. There is a short letter from Brian below.
Brian will be back in Los Angeles in November for two events. We are having a fundraising party for: "PAYING THE PRICE FOR PEACE” at our house in Culver City on Saturday Night, November 3rd.
Then Brian will be honored at the ARTIVIST FILM FESTIVAL on Sunday Night, November 4th at Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood.
If you would like to make a contribution but would rather not donate on-line, you can send a check to:
Bo Boudart Productions
PO Box 7395
Menlo Park, CA 94026
Or you can click on the picture of Brian & Bo to donate on-line.
Here is the Letter from Brian.
Just wanted to get this on your radar... and undoubtedly some of you have already heard about it.
While on my East Coast book tour last fall, a serendipitous connection was made with an award-winning documentary filmmaker named Bo Boudart. Following up on a suggestion from a friend, Bo began focusing his camera on me, and is now in the process of making a film that will revolve around my story while serving to amplify many other voices including those of a number of other peace veterans who have taken strong stands against war (e.g., Camilo Mejia, Ray McGovern, Charlie Liteky, Roy Bourgeois).
Based on the footage already collected by Bo over the last year -- which includes video captured at various book tour events, at last year's annual SOA Watch vigil, at this year's Veterans For Peace convention, plus many interviews, including one with Duncan Murphy, fellow faster and train blocker who recently passed away at age 92 -- this should be a very powerful film.
Like I said, I just wanted to get this on your radar. If you are inspired to spread the word through your own social networks, I support you in doing that, or even making a contribution of your own. Currently, an Indiegogo fundraising campaign is helping to raise funds for production costs, but Bo is committed to finding a way to raise the necessary funds to complete this film whether or not that campaign goal is met. (Click on photo link above for more information.) There is also a facebook page that is being used to help spread the word (facebook.com/
Two conscientious nonviolent activists, Brian Terrell and Ron Faust, were convicted on Monday of trespassing, for having attempted to deliver a document listing concerns about drones to the commander of Whiteman Air Force Base near Jefferson City, Mo., last April. A third protester, Mark Kenney of Omaha, Neb., is serving a four-month sentence after having pled guilty in June to trespassing.
Veterans For Peace members were among those participating in a demonstration last April, and again on Monday, in support of Faust and Terrell, who will be sentenced in the coming weeks. Veterans For Peace applauds nonviolent resistance to the illegal and immoral use of drones, and stands in solidarity with those taking these risks to serve their country and the world.
Please sign the petition to stop the deportation from Canada of Iraq war Kimberly Rivera!!!
My name is Kimberly Rivera. I joined the U.S. Army when I was 24. At the time, I thought the war in Iraq was a good thing. I thought it would make our country safer and bring democracy to Iraq. Once I was stationed in Iraq, I realized I had been lied to. I saw the true face of war: countless civilian casualties, and Iraqi children left devastated by loss and filled with fear. We were not bringing freedom to Iraq; we were bringing needless pain and suffering and death. How could I look my children in the eye and tell them to be good people, when I was contributing to causing harm and death to innocent people on the other side of the world? As this became clear to me, my conscience would no longer let me participate in the war in Iraq. In 2007, my family and I came to Canada, where I applied for refugee status. Since that time, I have become active in my community in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. I speak out against the war in Iraq - and for peace - at every opportunity. Mario and I now have four beautiful children, two of them born in Canada. We ask for only one thing: to continue to live our lives in Canada. We want our children to grow up in a peaceful country that values tolerance, respect, and community. Please sign this letter asking Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to stop my deportation. My family and I thank you for responding to our urgent request for help. —Kim Rivera LEARN MORE
My name is Kimberly Rivera. I joined the U.S. Army when I was 24. At the time, I thought the war in Iraq was a good thing. I thought it would make our country safer and bring democracy to Iraq.
Once I was stationed in Iraq, I realized I had been lied to. I saw the true face of war: countless civilian casualties, and Iraqi children left devastated by loss and filled with fear. We were not bringing freedom to Iraq; we were bringing needless pain and suffering and death. How could I look my children in the eye and tell them to be good people, when I was contributing to causing harm and death to innocent people on the other side of the world?
As this became clear to me, my conscience would no longer let me participate in the war in Iraq.
In 2007, my family and I came to Canada, where I applied for refugee status. Since that time, I have become active in my community in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. I speak out against the war in Iraq - and for peace - at every opportunity. Mario and I now have four beautiful children, two of them born in Canada.
We ask for only one thing: to continue to live our lives in Canada. We want our children to grow up in a peaceful country that values tolerance, respect, and community. Please sign this letter asking Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to stop my deportation.
My family and I thank you for responding to our urgent request for help.
By Ed Kinane
SYRACUSE, NY. -- Like the School of the Americas, the weaponized drone perpetrates terrorism. As Predator drones come to Ft. Benning, some SOA Watch activists are applying our SOAW experience to “outing” the Predator and Reaper drones already in our midst.
Syracuse’s Hancock Air National Guard Base has become one of the national hubs for piloting -- via computer screen and satellite -- the Reaper over Afghanistan. For three years upstate New York activists have been trying to educate our public and Hancock personnel about the war crimes being committed by these robotic killers [www.upstatedroneaction.org].
By Kathy Kelly
Anne Montgomery died yesterday. I remember her words to me and to our young Iraqi friend Eva, sitting in the Al Monzer hotel in Amman, Jordan. This was in 2006, and she’d waited three weeks for a visa to enter Iraq as a peace witness. Anne had crossed into zones of conflict more times than any other activist I’d known. During these weeks with us, she’d been meeting and working with Iraqi refugees, many of them undocumented and struggling to eke out a living in Jordan.
Now the wait was over. The visas were not forthcoming, and Anne had decided she was needed most in the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron, where the Christian Peacemaker Team — at that point, she had been a “CPT-er” for 11 years — was particularly short staffed and had requested a month of her time. She was going to attempt the crossing from Jordan into Israel by taxi, since Israel could very well have refused her entry, and we were to save a bed for her. But for the moment, we treasured the chance to learn from her in case this was a parting.
It was, and a greater parting has now come, so I take comfort in her words, and rededicate myself to taking direction from them.
I asked Anne about one of her contemporaries, Barbara Deming, who had been active in the movements for civil rights, women’s equality and an end to the Vietnam War. While acknowledging that to succeed peace activists must become “many more than we are now,” Deming had nonetheless insisted that activists must joyfully and determinedly engage in what she termed “the further invention of nonviolence.” So I asked Anne for her recommendations about inventiveness and nonviolence. She said:
Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine spoke prior to Obama's speech on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va. He had praise for anyone signing up to go to war in Afghanistan. "We can still put our positive thumbprint on that nation," he said, to wild cheers. Imagine the competition among the world's nations to get our thumbprint next! Imagine what it costs to get our assprint.
"So, who are you voting for?" an Obama follower asked me prior to the event. I was holding posters with 12 friends and handing out hundreds of flyers that looked like Obama material until you read them. (PDF).
The posters objected to the tripling of weapons sales to foreign dictators last year, Obama's willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare, the kill list, imprisonment without trial, warrantless spying, corporate trade agreements, the continued so-called "Bush" tax cuts, the war on Afghanistan, the drone wars, the increased military budget, the murder of Tariq Aziz and of Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the weak auto efficiency standards in the news that day, the refusal to prosecute torturers, Obama's sabotaging of agreements to counter global warming, etc.
"So, who are you going to vote for?"
"Well," I said, "you know, you can vote for someone good like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, or you can vote for Obama, but today is not election day. If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that's great. Knock yourself out. But that does not begin to produce an argument for being his apologist and cheerleader throughout the year. If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil. One guy wants to trash Social Security, and the other guy brags about his willingness to make huge compromises with that agenda -- that is, to partially trash Social Security. So, is your job to demand that not a dime be cut (regardless of how you vote), or is your job to cheer for the partially trash it guy, thereby guaranteeing that he and the other guy both get even worse?"
"Yeah, I see, but I'm trying to understand who you think we should vote for."
"Let me try again. Take Obama's kill list for . . . "
"President Obama keeps a list of the people he wants to kill. It was a frontpage New York Times story three months ago that made a lot of news but was carefully avoided by Democrats even more assiduously than you would have sought it out and trumpeted your outrage were the president a Republican. Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children. Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it? I don't mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen. What are you supposed to do in such a case?"
"Well what's the alternative?"
"The alternative to murdering people? Well, I don't know how to put this. The alternative is essentially not murdering people."
"No, what's the alternative to Obama? Isn't the other guy worse?"
"Let me try again. You'll grant me that women didn't vote themselves the right to vote. Will you go along with that? They didn't get the right to vote by voting for it?"
"And the civil rights movement didn't end the sit ins and marches and endorse Democrats and pack events like this one to cheer loudly? That wouldn't have worked as well and wouldn't have been required in order for those activists to be serious activists, right? We don't accuse Martin Luther King of not being a serious activist because he didn't endorse candidates, right? And if you'd asked him what the alternative was to your candidate, would you be shocked if he had replied that the alternative was educating, organizing, mobilizing, and engaging in nonviolent resistance to evil?"
"So, you're not going to vote for anybody?"
"I'm not sure I'm being very clear here. 70% of the country wants the war in Afghanistan ended. Neither candidate is willing to end it. Obama pretends he's ending it. Romney doesn't mention it. Should 70% of the country keep quiet while large numbers of people are killed? Or should we approach both branches of our government, the two parties, with our just and moral demand until we're satisfied -- regardless of who we're going to vote for?"
"Well, you can have your opinion about Afghanistan, but that's no reason to character assassinate the President."
"Seventy percent of the country is character assassinating the president by wanting to get out of Afghanistan? Or only if you mention it out loud? How do you character assassinate someone? Did you catch the part where I pointed out that Obama actually assassinates people?"
Three of us went into the event. I had tickets, which were free and which the campaign could barely give away, while back in 2007 Obama had sold out the same venue. We didn't go in so as to spend hours in the hot sun just to hear an Obama speech like the one he'd given the day before in another town which we could have watched on Youtube. Thousands of people did that. We went in to disturb the war.
We wanted to shout. But what could we shout? We were only three. We were not near the front. (I recommend taking 10 to the front of one of these events if you can. You'll own the place.) We would have to be loud and clear. We couldn't mention the kill list which would be like mentioning UFOs to these people. We couldn't mention Social Security because they pretend Obama's not threatening it. We couldn't mention peace because people would think it was a pro-Obama chant. We decided to say this: Get out of Afghanistan! End the sanctions on Iran!
Here's how the Washington Post's blog reported on that:
"Protesters drown out Obama
"Posted by Amy Gardner on August 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm
"CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — An outdoor political rally erupted into a moment of chaos as protesters drowned out President Obama’s speech at a downtown amphitheater here — and then the rest of the crowd drowned out the protesters. It was unclear what the protesters were saying, but several members of the crowd said a few minutes later that they heard 'Get out of Afghanistan!' The shouts prompted a flurry of Secret Service activity, and they also prompted an enthusiastic crowd of more than 7,000 to shut down the protesters with two cacophonous chants: 'Four more years!' and 'O-ba-ma!' Obama couldn't continue for a long moment, but when the noise finally died down, he said: 'I couldn’t hear what those young people had to say, but that's good that they got involved.' To the rest of the crowd, he said: 'Don't just chant! Vote!'"
Obama was pretending the crowd was all young people. He'd tried to speak at the University of Virginia which had turned him down, but he gave his speech as if he were there. The crowd didn't shout us down till we'd run out of breath. They were not nearly as fast as Republicans are with their "U-S-A! U-S-A!" In fact, they seemed tremendously proud of themselves when they managed to discover that they could yell "O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!" Voting, in the pretense of those in power, constitutes more activism than chanting or any other activity. Don't just hold teach-ins, vote! Don't just occupy the square, vote! Don't just risk your life to expose injustice, vote! If Bradley Manning had just voted, that would have been the last full measure of devotion.
As to the flurry of Secret Service activity, an Obama campaign guy started standing next to us, and a mean possibly drunk guy started shoving and threatening us. After various additional disruptions of the war (not the peace) by us, the Obama guy called the local police over who asked us to leave, and asked for our names, etc., to tell them to the Secret Service. The police had earlier refused numerous requests by the Obama staff and volunteers to evict our poster demonstration. The police had mentioned freedom of speech. The local media, as well as the police, were surprisingly decent. The Obama campaigners, on the other hand, would have exiled us all to Gitmo if they'd been able, and if they weren't suffering under the misconception that it's been closed.
Eva Westheimer was recently arrested for shutting down a strip mine in West Virginia, along with Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival ( http://rampscampaign.org ). Westheimer is a junior at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She describes the recent action she took, the ongoing campaign, and what motivates her.
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Joshua was trained as an Arabic translator and deployed with the 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion to Abu Ghraib prison working as an interrogator from June 2004 to January 2005. Upon his return, Joshua applied for conscientious objector status and was honorably discharged in May 2005. His story is featured in the documentary film Soldiers of Conscience:
Joshua enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves at age 17, and later enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The rigidity and conformity of West Point was a turnoff so he left after just three months. The University of Iowa helped Casteel land on his feet, but his ROTC experience was similar to West Point.
With the military a lesser priority, Joshua enrolled at a university in Colorado for a year before returning to Iowa to earn his B.A. in Literature, Science, and Arts in 2002. He then earned a dual M.F.A. in Playwriting and Non-Fiction Writing, also from the University of Iowa in 2008. Joshua was working as a Graduate Arts Management Fellow at the University of Chicago before he was diagnosed with cancer.
Joshua served on IVAW’s Board of Directors in 2006. In addition, he stood with war resister Ricky Clousing at a press conference before Ricky turned himself in to the military. (Starting at 16:00 min)
In March 2008, Joshua led a panel on Racism and Dehumanization at Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2010, he testified at the Truth Commission on Conscience and War.
Joshua believed his illness was a result of his service in Iraq where he was exposed to the toxic fumes from burn pits and had submitted a compensation claim with the Veterans Administration.
Joshua was invited to speak at over 50 venues worldwide, including the UK, Sweden, South Korea, as well as two national tours of Ireland. In 2006, Joshua appeared on the stage of the Royal Court Theatre for Human Rights Watch’s Cries From the Heart performing a monologue from his play Returns, which premiered at the University of Iowa in February 2007, and then at Columbia College in Chicago. Some of Joshua’s essays on war and Christian ethics have become part of course curricula at Wheaton College and Duke Divinity School. He was also featured in the documentary film Iraq for Sale.
He grew up a in a devoted evangelical Christian household. His father Everett “Rick” Casteel, also an Army veteran, founded Caleb Ministries, a counseling and mediation agency in Cedar Rapids. Sadly, Rick also succumbed to cancer in 2010 and Joshua was with his father during those difficult days.
Our deepest sympathies go out to his loving family. Joshua was an inspiration to many of us in the military and veterans community. His conviction and willingness to speak the truth was an example to us all. Joshua was truly a soldier of conscience. May he rest in peace.
To Law Enforcement
Those who come to demonstrate at the RNC do not come to confront you.
They come to confront:
· those who give you your orders, our Elected Officials.
· those who give them their orders, the Power Elite.
We, police officers and protesters alike, should be standing together to remind our government that they work for us, the people. That it is WE THE PEOPLE who elect them, and we who give them their orders.
You have been told that we are coming to commit acts of violence and destruction. We are not.
We utilize peaceful means to promote peaceful ends and to stand up for justice...social, economic and environmental justice.
You have been told that we are coming to fight the police. We are not.
You are being abused right along with us. It is the Power Elite we are after. They are screwing over all of us and laugh at us when we fight one another.
We do not expect you to take our word for it. Hear it from retired Police Captain Ray Lewis on his interview where he can explain it:
It's time we stood together. We know who the real enemy is, and its neither you or us. So it's pointless to fight one another.
If you are ordered to assault a non-violent peaceful crowd, we ask you to defy your orders. Stand for justice. It is our sincere hope that you allow the demonstrators to do what they come to do, peacefully protest an unjust system. We stand for justice.
If you are ordered to assault a non-violent peaceful crowd, we ask you to defy your orders. Stand for justice.
It is our sincere hope that you allow the demonstrators to do what they come to do, peacefully protest an unjust system. We stand for justice.
At this year's Veterans For Peace convention in Miami, VFP President Leah Bolger challenged members to take risks: "Many of you have risked a lot for war. What will you risk for peace?"
One VFP member, S. Brian Willson, gave his legs and part of his skull for peace. It was 1987, and the U.S. military was shipping weapons to port, in order to ship them to El Salvador and Nicaragua, where they would be used to slaughter the people of those nations, where, in Willson's words "In one country, we supported a puppet government against a people's revolution; in the other, we supported a puppet revolution against a people's government."
Willson had decided that his own life was not worth more than the lives of non-Americans, that they were losing their lives and limbs as a direct result of our inaction, and that he had a moral responsibility to act. Willson and others sat down on a train track in front of a train full of weapons. The train usually traveled at 5 miles per hour. The train would stop. The protesters would be removed from the tracks. That was the standard practice, and that was the law. But that's not what happened the day Willson lost his legs.
It seems that the military had decided that nonviolent protesters did not exist, that everywhere in the world the only tool available was violence. Therefore, Wilson must be a violent terrorist. Therefore, he and his companions must be planning to jump aboard the train. Therefore, the train must speed up and stop for nothing and nobody. That was the order given. The other protesters moved out of the way in time. Willson, sitting cross-legged, could not. The train ran him over. And then the men driving the train sued Willson for causing them to suffer post traumatic stress.
But something else happened too. Hundreds of people ripped up the track and built a monument out of the railroad ties. People formed blockades of trains on that track for years to come. Every train and nearly every truck was blocked until January 1990. Celebrities showed up and held rallies. Ronald Reagan's daughter wrote a kind letter to Wilson, as did professional sports teams and other big whigs congratulating him on his courageous stand. And similar actions sprang up around the country. Visiting Nicaragua, Willson was treated as a national hero.
But Willson is from our nation, and he's a global hero. Probably his most valuable act, however, has been performed behind a keyboard. "Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson," with an introduction by Daniel Ellsberg, is an epic. This is the long and careful transformation from an eager soldier accepting of rightwing dogma to a principled and courageous advocate for peace and ecological justice. Willson now strives to live sustainably, and brings the reader to question not only the paying of war taxes but the consumption of corporate products generated by the cruel threat of force in foreign lands.
"One day," Willson writes, "the corporations that allow and often enable terrorism in countries like Colombia will be pushed out of those countries. We will no longer be able to buy one-dollar Cokes or ninety-nine-cent-a-pound bananas. Maybe when that day comes, we will finally realize that we do not even desire cheap goods at the cost of others' lives. Maybe we will finally realize that we all share a common humanity."
Willson's book is a tour, with him, of much of the world, from the killing he participated in in Viet Nam, to that he has tried to prevent in Latin America, Palestine, and elsewhere. It’s a philosophical journey, through the course of which Willson learns much from the people he is trying to help. The Zapatistas, the Cubans, and others are not just victims of imperialism, but pioneers in sustainable (and enjoyable!) living. If that idea strikes you as crazy but you're willing to consider a careful argument from someone who began far to your right and doesn't change easily … or if the idea strikes you as plausible and you like to see it laid out in a very human story … either way, you can't do better than to read "Blood on the Tracks," and perhaps we as a people -- and I mean the human people, not the people of some nation -- would be better off if a little more of the blood we are still spilling in such great quantities were spilled on railroad tracks for peace.
One of the most inspiring events thus far at the Veterans For Peace National Convention underway in Miami was a presentation on Thursday by several veterans who have refused to participate in war. Typically, they have done this at the risk of significant time in prison, or worse. In most cases these resisters avoided doing any time. Even when they did go behind bars, they did so with a feeling of liberation.
Gerry Condon refused to deploy to Vietnam, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, escaped from Fort Bragg, left the country, and came back campaigning for amnesty. President Jimmy Carter pardoned resisters as his first act in office. Condon never "served" a day, in either the military "service" or prison.
Peace activists stopped traffic briefly while other activists leafleted at the Navy’s West Coast Trident submarine base.
Activists with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent action held a peaceful early morning vigil at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Main Gate as Navy and civilian employees entered the base. The vigil commemorated the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Trident submarine base at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, Washington, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carry as many as 24 Trident II(D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads. Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield up to 32 times the yield of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
|Resisters (from left to right): Betsy Lamb, George Rodkey & Ann Havill
(photo by Leonard Eiger)
A total of 16 persons engaged in the blockade. All were issued citations at the scene for “Walking on roadway where prohibited” and released. Those cited were Tom Rogers, Poulsbo, WA; Cindy Sheehan, Vacaville, CA; Marion Ward, Vancouver, WA; Michael Siptroth, Belfair, WA; Mal Chaddock, Portland, OR; Ann Havill, Bend, OR; Betsy Lamb, Bend, OR; Bernie Meyer, Olympia, WA; Leonard Eiger, North Bend, WA; Constance Mears, Poulsbo, WA; Gordon Sturrock, Eugene, OR; Brenda McMillan, Port Townsend, WA; Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Gilberto Z Perez, Bainbridge Island, WA; George W Rodkey, Tacoma, WA and Elizabeth Murray, Bellingham, WA.
|Anne & David Hall Leafleting (photo by Berd Whitlock)|
|Each leaflet had an origami crane attached
(photo by Berd Whitlock)
Monday’s vigil, nonviolent direct action and leafleting were the culmination of a weekend of events at Ground Zero Center. Participants commemorated the anniversaries of the atomic bombings and celebrated 35 years of Ground Zero’s resistance to the Trident nuclear weapons system.
Participants had the opportunity to hear from Ground Zero co-founders Jim and Shelley Douglass, persistent peace activist Cindy Sheehan, and the (pepper sprayed) face of Seattle Occupy Dorli Rainey.
The weekend included nonviolence training, letter writing to elected officials, action planning, a vigil at the Kitsap Mall and a screening of the documentary “In My Lifetime.” The film, a presentation of the Nuclear World Project, is intended to help people develop an understanding of the realities of nuclear weapons.
Additional events were associated with the Ground Zero weekend.
Ground Zero's Glen Milner organized this year’s Peace Fleet, a flotilla of boats that sailed into Seattle’s Elliott Bay on August 1st to meet the U.S. Navy fleet in a protest against militarism.
Activists representing Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington Chapter, arrived at Ground Zero on Saturday during the Bike to the Bomb bicycle ride. Bike to the Bomb protests the use of nuclear weapons against the people of Japan, and spotlights the massive nuclear arsenal stored and deployed at Bangor.
Participants in the 2012 Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free Future, which began in Portland, Oregon on July 22nd, also arrived at Ground Zero on Saturday to participate in the weekend’s activities. The walk is organized by Buddhist monks from Bainbridge Island, and carries a message of hope for peace and a nuclear free world.
|All 16 who blocked the roadway today. (photo by Berd Whitlock)|
For nearly thirty-five years Ground Zero has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.