Following the conclusion of the World Without War Conference that was held this weekend at American University, 21 people were arrested yesterday at the Pentagon as part of a Campaign Nonviolence action that was organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. (See below the press release about this action). The arrests occurred as peacemakers attempted to redeliver a letter previously sent to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, as well as a petition to stop the use of killer drones, at the main Pentagon police checkpoint outside the Pentagon south metro station. Simultaneously, some 50 other peacemakers who attended the World Without War Conference held a demonstration in the Pentagon police designated protest zone located near the police checkpoint.
It was an honor to be part of this action, yet another “experiment in truth” in nonviolent resistance to a warmaking empire. During this witness, I carried in my heart and prayer those in whose name I was acting: all the victims of violence, racism, torture, war and poverty, as well as the holy cloud of witnesses–past and present. I also prayed for our sacred earth and climate which is under daily assault and “groaning in travail.” In this time of perpetual war, unrelenting racial violence, mass incarceration and pervasive poverty, I was also very mindful of the compelling words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who declared: “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometime hostile world declaring eternal hostility to racism, poverty and militarism.”
God calls us to love and not to kill, to practice mercy, to love our enemies, to establish justice for the oppressed, to beat all the swords of our time into plowshares and to abolish war. During this election season and beyond, let us continue to do all we can to enflesh these biblical mandates as we seek to create the Beloved Community and a nonviolent world.
WHO: On September 26, 2016, after years of unsuccessfully seeking meetings with elected and appointed government officials over the ongoing US wars, proxy wars and military occupations, armed drones, US war crimes, and the increasing Pentagon budget activists associated with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) went to the Pentagon today once again seeking a meeting with decision-makers in the Pentagon chain of command including Secretary Ashton Carter. They told Pentagon police they wouldn’t leave until they spoke to an official in a position of authority about war crimes committed by the US and that they were following their obligations under Nuremberg to draw attention to these crimes of US government elected and appointed officials. Although the activists were nonviolent the Pentagon police placed 21 activists under arrest and charged them with “Violation of a Lawful Order”.
WHAT: The presence of antiwar activists today at the Pentagon follows the International Day of Peace, the over 700 actions of nonviolence around the US and other countries organized by Campaign Nonviolence calling for an end to war, poverty, and for serious efforts to address the climate crisis and environmental degradation. In addition, many of the activists had attended the World Beyond War conference held in Washington, DC at American University over the weekend entitled “No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism”. The attempted meeting by activists was a continuation of the over 700 events organized by Campaign Nonviolence this month in addition to carrying the message of World Beyond War to the Department of Defense and Obama Administration. The activists tried to also deliver a petition signed by over 23000 people to President Obama, Secretary Carter, and German Chancellor Merkel calling for the closing of a drone relay station at US Air Force Base Ramstein in Germany which has been linked to the deaths of innocent civilians. Activists in Germany also attempted to deliver this petition to Merkel today. Australian activists acted in solidarity at the US military base in Pine Gap and another solidary action was held at West Point, NY by others concerned about the US drone program.
WHY: Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska one of those arrested explained why she was at the Pentagon seeking a meeting today “The measure of a healthy society is how we treat the marginalized. How we can care for them in a just and humane manner when 56% of the federal budget goes to the Pentagon for its 800+ military bases and the killing? That fills the pockets of the weapons manufacturers!” The World Beyond War conference and Campaign Nonviolence say there is a link between poverty, war, and the environmental threat to the planet. They say that there needs to be a new way of running our planet and resolving international conflict through nonviolence. “The reason why I took action today is because I am moved by conscience by the words of the late peace activist Daniel Berrigan who said “Because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total – but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial.” We all need to get out of our comfort zone and away from what is convenient for us when it comes to taking action. We cannot continue on the path of more war while so many social problems exist in society. War is a threat to Mother Earth and all humanity. The way of war is not sustainable” Kilbride said.
Those arrested include Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Richard Ochs, Malachy Kilbride of Maryland, Alice Sutter, Felton Davis, and Chat Gunter of New York, Don Cunning and Manijeh Saba of New Jersey, Brian Terrell of Iowa, Phil Runkel of Wisconsin, Joan Stallard, Art Laffin and Eve Tetaz of Washington, DC, JoAnne Lingle of Indiana, Howard Mettee of Ohio, Phoebe Sorgen of California, Henry Lowendorf and James Pandaru of Connecticut, Beth Adams and Paki Wieland of Massachusetts, Nancy Gowen of Virginia.
A November 3, 2016 court date has been scheduled in the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. The activists said they are looking forward to their day in court.