Haiti Report 2017

Speaker: Eugenia Charles, Executive Director of Fondasyon Mapou

Date: Friday, February 3, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.

Place: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 503 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, Washington, DC, 20010.

Since 2011, when Hillary Clinton’s handpicked candidate Michel Martelly became President, the condition of Haitian peoples’ lives has deeply worsened and led to street protests and demands for his resignation. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 devastated the country leaving hundreds dead and thousands homeless. How will Haiti regain her footing with the new President Jovenel Moise, Martelly’s choice? It will be more danger and despair for Haiti.

Please join us for an invigorating discussion and explore why many Haitians see Hillary’s loss as a win for Haiti.

For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649

 

Published in: on January 27, 2017 at 2:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Eighteen Arrested at January 17, 2017 U.S. Supreme Court Action To Stop Executions

Dear Friends,

After over 30 grueling hours in D.C. lock-up—Supreme Court police, D.C. Dept. of Corrections Central Cell Block, and holding cells of D.C. Superior Court—where seventeen friends and I experienced one part of the racist and dehumanizing mass incarceration complex, we, who were arrested on January 17th at the U.S. (un)Supreme Court for holding a 30 foot-long banner on the court steps saying “Stop Executions,” were released last evening. It was a small sacrifice to make in light of the enormity of the evil we face. We and some eighty other friends who vigiled on the sidewalk in front of the court also left 80 roses on the court steps to remember the victims and the executed over the last forty years. Before our release we were arraigned in chains before Judge Staples in D.C. Superior Court. We  were all charged with “parading” and given a “stay away order” from the grounds of the (un)Supreme Court. A February 24th status hearing date was set. We acted at the (un)Supreme Court because the majority of the justices support and sanction state-sponsored murder. There’s nothing “supreme” about a court, which is the highest in the land, that sanctions killing.

stop-executions

Last night the State of Virginia executed Ricky Gray and the U.S. (un)Supreme Court denied Gray’s final appeal for a stay of execution. We hope and pray that those justices that espouse the death penalty will soon have a change of heart and work to abolish, once and for all, this barbaric and immoral practice.

Participating in this year’s action were a number of people risking arrest for the first time. Also involved was Derek Jamison, who spent 20 years on Ohio’s death row and faced six execution dates for a crime he did not commit. It was truly a great blessing to meet and be jailed with this most gracious and courageous man.

Below is a press release about the action and the names of those who participated. There are also several links to photos, a video and media stories about the action. Incidentally, news reports of the action were reported by the AP, N.Y. Times and Washington Post.

N.Y. Times Article Link:

https://mobile.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/01/17/us/politics/ap-us-supreme-court-protesters-arrested.html?_r=0&referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F  Link to More Info, Photos and Video: https://sojo.net/articles/18-arrested-anti-death-penalty-protest

Twenty years ago I was among eighteen abolitionists arrested at the (un)Supreme court for doing the exact same action. Three of us from that protest two decades ago were arrested again at this action.

When I was invited to be part of that inspiring witness, I never thought I would be personally effected by the tragedy of murder. But two years later I became a murder victim family member. On September 20, 1999, when my when my younger brother, Paul, was leaving the shelter in Hartford, CT where he had worked and ministered for ten years, he was stabbed to death by Dennis Soutar, a mentally ill homeless man. Had Dennis been found competent to stand trial and was convicted, he could have faced the death penalty. He is now serving a 60 year sentence in a Connecticut prison hospital. During this action and my time in captivity, I remembered and prayed for Dennis Soutar, for all murder victims and their families, for all the executed and their families, for all those on death row and their families, and for an end to all killing. Please join me in continuing to pray for Dennis Soutar’s healing and that he can experience God’s forgiving love.

It has been an honor to participate in these two actions with murder victim family members, a death row exoneree, a family member of the executed, and other abolitionists. And it has been a great source of strength for me to become actively involved with the Journey of Hope, which has been a powerful healing community for me and many others who have been directly effected by murder and the death penalty.

Why do this action yet again, 20 years later? My faith in God, who commands us to love and not to kill, and the example of Jesus, who shows the world how to live and die as he is being executed on the cross, compels me to nonviolently resist all state-sanctioned killing. Thus, I believe that the best way to break the cycle of violence and killing in our culture is not through retribution and revenge, but rather through mercy, compassion and love. The best way I know to honor my brother is to work for the prevention of violence, not to replicate it.

On January 16th evening, the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., there was an inspiring program to prepare for the witness at the (un)Supreme Court. I was asked to give the Benediction, a portion of which follows:

As we conclude our program, where we have heard stories of amazing grace and moving testimony about why the death penalty must be abolished, and as we have witnessed the powerful transformation of a rifle into a garden tool, by our friends from Raw Tools, let us hear the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was murdered for trying to create the Beloved Community. We pray that our nation, who honors Dr. King today, can one day truly heed his words and example:

 

“Capital punishment is society’s final assertion that it will not forgive… Such is the persistent story of mortal life. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of revenge…In spite of the fact that the law of revenge solves no social problems, people continue to follow its disastrous leading. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path…

Jesus eloquently affirmed from the cross a higher law. He knew that the old eye-for-eye philosophy would leave everyone blind. He did not seek to overcome evil with evil. He overcame evil with good. Although crucified by hate, he responded with aggressive love…

Love even for enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of our world…Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world, declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, militarism.“

 

And so we go forth tonight, and act tomorrow at the Supreme Court, inspired by Jesus, Dr. King and all the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, filled with hope, believing that good overcomes evil and that the light of love and justice shines in the darkness and that the darkness will never ever overcome it!   

The Journey of Hope continues!

With gratitude, Art

IMAGES FROM THE ACTION AVAILABLE HERE – Permission granted:https://goo.gl/fzfT0P

Activists Arrested at U.S. Supreme Court Calling for an End to the Death Penalty

By The Abolitionist Action Committee, January 17, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Forty years after the first execution of Gary Gilmore under contemporary laws, 18 anti-death penalty activists were arrested at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.  The group unfurled a 30-foot-long banner that read “STOP EXECUTIONS!” on the steps of the Court.  On the sidewalk, a crowd of over 80 supporters observed the action, carrying 40 posters (1 for each year) with the names of the other 1442 men and women executed since 1977. They also carried roses in two colors, a reminder that they are remembering both families of the murdered and families of the executed as they stand together saying, as one banner did, “We Remember the Victims, But Not With More Killing.”

The group included several murder victim family members, a death row exoneree, family members of the incarcerated, pastors and religious leaders, and national leaders in the death penalty abolition movement. It was the largest act of civil disobedience against the death penalty in modern history.

All 18 activists were held overnight in jail, and released by 6:00 pm the following day after more than 30 hours in police custody.  A status hearing court date is set for February 24th.

One of the participants who was arrested was Randy Gardner, whose brother, like Gilmore, was executed in Utah by firing squad.

“My Brother Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed in 2010 by the same state and by the same method as Gilmore,” Gardner stated.  “I believed then, and I still believe now, that the death penalty is morally wrong. I never condoned what my brother did, but when the state executes someone, they create yet another family that is damaged and grieving. We don’t have to kill to be safe from dangerous criminals and hold them accountable. It is time to abolish the death penalty.”

Shane Claiborne, influential Christian author and activist, speaking of the significance of religious leaders, said this:  “Sadly, the death penalty has succeeded in America not in spite of Christians but because of us.  Over 80% of executions in the past 40 years have been in the Bible Belt.  As a Christian, that is especially troubling because one of the tenants of our faith is this: No one is beyond redemption.  Much of the Bible was written by murderers who were given a second chance. Moses. David. Paul.  The Bible would be much shorter without grace.  So it was a beautiful thing to stand alongside my fellow clergy and faith leaders…  And, if you go to jail, it’s good to have a nun and a priest next to you.  As we look at history, we are reminded that we’ve got good company among the holy troublemakers who have gone to jail for justice.  Abortion is not the only pro-life issue.”

Claiborne continues: “When we try to kill those who kill, we mirror, and legitimize, the cycle of violence.  We can deal with violent crime without resorting to the violence we want to rid the world of.  As faith leaders and clergy, we stand together, with families of the murdered and families of the executed, and say NO to all killing.  Violence is the disease, not the cure.”

Scott Langley, a death penalty abolition organizer from New York, said “The national tide has turned against the death penalty with more and more states, counties, and juries refusing to continue this barbaric practice. We acted today to call on this Court to recognize that standards of decency and human rights have evolved to the point that this has to end now.”

Those arrested were Peter Armstrong (Washington, DC), Leroy Barber (Portland, OR), Abraham J. Bonowitz (Columbus, OH), SueZann Bosler (Miami, FL), Shawn Casselberry (Chicago, IL), Shane Claiborne (Philadelphia, PA), John Dear (Santa Fe, NM), Randy Gardner (Taylorsville, UT), Lisa Sharon Harper (Washington, DC), Derrick Jamison (Cincinnati, OH), Art Laffin (Washington, DC), Scott Langley (Ghent, NY), Michael McBride (Oakland, CA), Tom Muther (Topeka, KS), Doug Pagitt (Minneapolis, MN), Jack Payden-Travers (Lynchburg, VA), Sam R. Sheppard (Oakland, CA), and Kelton Tupper (Cheverly, MD).

Background:  Forty years ago, on January 17, 1977, the State of Utah shot to death Gary Gilmore, who “volunteered” to be killed in revenge for his murder of Ben Bushnell and Max Jenson.  This state-assisted suicide was the first execution under the Supreme Court’s upholding of the death penalty in 1976.  Since then, there have been 1442 more executions, with another scheduled on January 18 in Virginia. Nearly 3,000 prisoners are currently on death rows in 31 states.

The protest is organized by the Abolitionist Action Committee (AAC), an ad-hoc group of individuals committed to highly visible and effective public education for alternatives to the death penalty through nonviolent direct action.  The AAC also organizes a four day fast and vigil on the Supreme Court sidewalk every June 29 through July 2, and all are invited to participate.

Published in: on January 22, 2017 at 1:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Stop the Death Penalty!

Jan. 16-17 Event and Action at U.S. Supreme Court to Mark the 40th Anniversary of the Reinstatement of the Death Penalty

deathpenaltydc-jan2017

 

Dear Friends,

I invite you to please come to these two important events to call for the abolition of state-sponsored killing.

For more info you can contact me: artlaffin@hotmail.com and  http://www.abolition.org/jan17.

Two upcoming events in DC to resist the death penalty.

40 Years of Executions: Stop the Death Penalty!

January 16, 6-8 pm

Voices of Experience on the Death Penalty

On the eve of a national call for direct action against the death penalty, come to hear death row exonerees, murder victim family members, death row families, and national experts tell their stories and learn how you can take action.

Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 E. Capitol St., NE

https://www.facebook.com/events/865958970213877/

Join the Abolitionist Action Committee, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Journey of Hope and many more organizations for an evening of hearing from those directly …

 

January 17, 9-11 am

Direct Action and Protest at the U.S. Supreme Court

Meeting at United Methodist Building next door to the court at 9 am, followed by action in 10am hour

https://www.facebook.com/events/231823303907445/

 

Contact: AAC@abolition.org

Twitter: @AbolitionAAC

http://www.abolition.org/jan17/

Published in: on January 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Please Support Witness Against Torture Events– No Clarification of Thought Talk at Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in January

Dear Friends,

There will NOT be a Clarification of Thought Talk at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in January.   

We encourage people to support the Witness Against Torture (WAT) Fast to Close Guantanamo from January 3-12. Please come to a special protest on January 11 that will begin at the U.S. Supreme Court at 11:30 AMFor more info please see: https://docs.google.com/document/d/18ghnFd06zVwXtSu_7YyqIi3Q-mSQ61BNUGEgTavSnL4/edit

If you want updated info about the Fast to Close Guantanamo events, and WAT inaugural activities from January 18-20, please contact Paula Miller: pmillercleve@yahoo.com.

Also please see: http://www.witnessagainsttorture.com/2016/11/08/join-us-dc-january/

We wish you every good blessing in this New Year.

In peace and hope,

Dorothy Day Catholic Worker

Published in: on January 3, 2017 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of Holy Innocents Retreat and Pentagon Witness in Honor of Dan Berrigan

by Art Laffin

Dear Friends,

From December 27-28, over 50 members from the Atlantic and Southern Life communities, and other peacemaking friends, gathered for a retreat at St. Stephen and the Incarnation church and a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon to commemorate the Massacre of the Holy Innocents – past and present. This year we honored in a special way, our friend and mentor, Dan Berrigan, SJ, who died on April 30, 2016.

holy-innocents2016-jpeg

The retreat began at 2 PM on Dec. 27 with introductions and orientation. Among those present included Melissa and Danielle, from Seedwork films, who were on hand to film and do interviews for a new documentary on Dan Berrigan. Steve Baggarly then offered a powerful scriptural  reflection expounding on the slaughter of the holy innocents within the context of the whole Christmas narrative, imperial Rome and Pax Romana, and how the Roman empire was antithetical to the kindom of God and the Gospel of Jesus. He then spoke about how the U.S. empire today, with its vast imperial reach and unrelenting violence, including the use of killer drones, has made the entire globe its battlefield, claiming countless innocents! He concluded by sharing about the exemplary steadfast Gospel witness of Dan Berrigan. These are but a few highlights of Steve’s talk. (His entire talk will soon be made available) Steve’s presentation prompted a very rich community sharing, which included how Dan’s inspiring nonviolent resistance to U.S. empire has, and continues to be, an inspiration for people worldwide. The session concluded with a communal reading of a moving unpublished poem by Anne Montgomery about the massacre of the holy innocents, past and present.

After a short break, the remainder of the afternoon was spent in preparation for the nonviolent witness at the Pentagon.

Following dinner, there was a beautiful liturgy that was led by Amanda Daloisio and Rev. Nathan Beall. During the liturgy Amanda offered a compelling reflection about the resistance of  the Hebrew midwives. (This will soon be made available) After the Eucharist, Sue Frankel-Streit, Clare Grady, Leah Grady Sayvetz and Travis Knapp shared about their powerful experience of joining the water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in South Dakota in their courageous nonviolent resistance campaign to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The community gathered early the next morning shortly before sunrise at Army-Navy Drive and processed to the Pentagon’s southeast entrance with signs about the plight of children, banners, and photos, cut-outs and quotes of Dan Berrigan (Special thanks to Ellen Grady for the Cut Out’s of Dan and to Amanda for bringing Photos of Dan displayed at his funeral), and singing,”Silent Night.” Remarkably, there were not the usual squadron of Pentagon police waiting for us to arrive. In fact, there were only several police that were visible much farther away at the checkpoint. As members of the community made their way into “designated protest area,” sixteen others proceeded down the sidewalk. While some of the group blocked the sidewalk, others made their way to a knoll not far from the sidewalk. Within a matter of minutes more police arrived at the scene. Once ordered by police to come down from the knoll, the entire group blocked the sidewalk leading into the main Pentagon metro entrance. The group held multiple life-size cut-outs of Dan and a large banner that had been cut into three pieces with a quote from the Catonsville Nine action statement: “The violence stops here, the death stops here, the suppression of truth stops here, this war stops here.” The blockade continued for a period of time as many Pentagon workers walked around it and onto the grass. When the sixteen refused to comply with an order to leave, police placed them under arrest. As arrestees were escorted past the designated protest area to nearby police wagons, the community sang the “Vine and Fig Tree” song.

Meanwhile, the rest of the community in the designated protest area continued the witness. Using a sound system, songs were sung, including the “Coventry Carol”, “A Voice is Heard in Ramah,” and “Love-Love-Love.” The Holy Innocents Gospel passage was proclaimed. An action statement (see below) was read, with a refrain after each paragraph: “The Massacre of the Innocents Starts at the Pentagon! Let Us Stop It Here and Now!” Five short accounts of children victimized by U.S. violence in Iraq, Cleveland and Standing Rock (prepared by Amanda and Leah) were shared, with the same earlier refrain chanted after each story. Then people were invited to share quotes from Dan that were on their signs. The witness concluded with everyone singing “Down by the Riverside” as the community processed back to Army-Navy Drive where they held a closing circle.  

Upon returning to the church,  there was a pot-luck breakfast and a reflection-sharing time about the Pentagon witness. Before departing we were treated to an amazingTalent Show by the youth, whose contagious spirit of joy carries us into the New Year, come what may!  

Thesixteen, plus several cut-outs of Dan, who were arrested were taken to thePentagonPolice center, which once upon a time served as a day care center, and charged with “Disobeying A Lawful Order.” All were released (except) the cut-outs of Dan) and are scheduled to appear for a  March 2, 2017 court dateatthe U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.

Those Arrested:

Ardeth Platte

Carol Gilbert

Andres Thomas-Conteris

Scott Langley

Bill Ofenloch

Janice Sevre-Duszynska

Ralph (Amanda Lawson)

Sarah Magno

Beth Brockman

Kathy Boylan

Martha Hennessy

Bill Frankel-Streit

Carmen Trotta

Steve Baggarly

Mary Rider

Steve Woolford

Holy Innocents Pentagon Action Statement
(Prepared by Art Laffin and read during the Dec. 28, 2016 Pentagon Witness To Commemorate the Massacre of the Holy Innocents–
Over 50 People Attended the Witness and 16 Were Arrested)
The Massacre of the Innocents Starts at the Pentagon! Let us Stop It Here and Now!
 

Today, Christian churches commemorate the Massacre of the Holy Innocents, recalling how Herod,  fearful of being removed from power, sought to destroy the child Jesus by ordering the slaughter of boys under two years old in and around Bethlehem. We, members of the Atlantic and Southern Life Communities and other peace groups, come to the Pentagon, the center of warmaking on our planet,  to remember the innocents who have died–past and present–due to greed, oppression and war. Today, in this time of perpetual war, the lives of countless innocents, like those in Bethlehem, are endangered. 

The United States military magnifies destruction across the globe,  especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and throughout the Middle East. We are ever so mindful that  the children are always the first victims of war. From overt wars to covert “dirty wars,” which now involve the use of lethal killer drones, countless, lives are destroyed, displaced and disappeared. The violence of the U.S. power structure is unrelenting.  Within our own boundaries  it continues to crush the poor, target people of color,  demonize Muslims, and oversee a mass incarceration complex. Fear and violence are pervasive, especially now as the Trump Administration prepares to take power. And always, the existence of nuclear weapons puts all life in utter peril. This  threat  is further exacerbated by the construction of the new naval war base on Jeju Island, S. Korea, increased U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, the deployment of U.S. missile defense systems designed to threaten and contain Russia and China, and the U.S. militarization of space. 

Every day, the world’s addiction to oil, natural gas and nuclear power is the cause of environmental contamination that is threatening global devastation. With nearly 800 military bases worldwide  establishing its vast war machine, the Pentagon is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, making it a major contributor to destablizing the climate. The Dakota Access pipeline is but one more example of the earth’s desecration, and which is courageously being resisted by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other water protectors. Acknowledging the long history of suffering by native peoples, tomorrow we remember that on December 29, 1890, the Wounded Knee Massacre occurred on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The U.S. 7th Calvary killed at least 150 men, women and children of the Lakota Sioux, although it is estimated that as many as 300 may have been murdered although it is estimated that as many as 300 may have  been murdered.

During our witness this morning we remember in a special way Daniel Berrigan, priest, poet, peacemaker and author, who, along with his brothers, Phil and Jerry, was arrested here at the Pentagon on numerous occasions. Dan died this past April 30th. We carry his spirit with us in our witness and we invite you, who work here at the Pentagon, to take to heart his plea, rendered in the Catonsville Nine statement he wrote to decry the U.S. massacre in Vietnam. His words ring as true today as on May 17,1968.
“The time is past when good men (people) can remain silent, when obedience can segregate men (people) from public risk, when the poor can die without defense. We ask our fellow Christians to consider in their hearts a question which has tortured us, night and day, since the war began. How many must die before our voices are heard, how many must be tortured, dislocated, starved, maddened? How long must the world’s resources be raped in the service of legalized murder? When, at what point, will you say no to this war? We have chosen to say, with the gift of our liberty, if necessary our lives: the violence stops here, the death stops here, the suppression of the truth stops here, this war stops here…Redeem the times! The times are inexpressibly evil. Christians pay conscious, indeed religious tribute, to Caesar and Mars; by the approval of overkill tactics, by brinkmanship, by nuclear liturgies, by racism, by support of genocide. They embrace their society with all their heart, and abandon the cross. They pay lip service to Christ and military service to the powers of death. And yet, and yet, the times are inexhaustibly good, solaced by the courage and hope of many. The truth rules, Christ is not forsaken.”
The violence, racism, massacres and disregard for the truth and human life stops here today at the Pentagon. Now is the time for personal and societal transformation as we resolve to renounce all killing, beat swords into plowshares, abolish torture and war, and  celebrate God’s creation with joy. As we move in to a new year, we invite you to join us as we strive to create the beloved community and a nonviolent world.

 

Published in: on January 2, 2017 at 2:34 am  Comments (1)