Report of AFA Arms Bazaar Vigil, September 17, 2018


Dear Friends,

Yesterday, Mike Walli, Kathy Boylan and I from the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, and Rev. Chuck Booker, Presbyterian pastor from Bethesda, MD, drove through periods of heavy rain to resist, once again, the annual Air Force Association (AFA) “Arms Bazaar” held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. More people had hoped to join in this witness but were unable due to the challenging weather.

When we arrived at the Gaylord around 5:45 p.m., the sun amazingly peaked through the clouds. Yet it was still overcast, with intermittent rain. Seeing no police or security around, we walked onto the Gaylord sidewalk right next to the driveway entrance where people attending the AFA Arms Bazaar and banquet enter. This is an area where we are prohibited from doing our vigil. (For the last nine years we have been told by Gaylord security and Prince George Co. police that we could not vigil on Gaylord property and that we had to be across the street or face arrest). Within several minutes we were literally greeted by the Gaylord Security and police. After shaking hands with the head of security, I explained our purpose for being there. This included an explanation about the Yemeni children who were recently killed by an Lockheed Martin-made bomb. Lockheed Martin, one of the 130 weapons contractors attending this year’s Arms Bazaar,  is the world’s largest weapons contractor and a main participant in the Arms Bazaar. I shared that if a gang was having a convention promoting all their new weapons it would for sure generate outrage and demands to stop it. Yet, because this is the AFA and weapons contractors are involved, this is deemed totally acceptable. Immediately, a downpour occurred and the security detail said they had to leave. But before leaving they surprisingly did not order us to go across the street. So we remained on Gaylord property to continue our witness as the AFA held its $300 per plate banquet inside.

During our hour-long vigil, we leafleted (see below leaflet), encountered military personnel (including two generals) and defense contractors, read from the scripture, offered prayers and reflections and sang. Mike read the Beatitudes account from Luke’s gospel. Chuck offered a prayer of Exorcism and Conversion. And Kathy recited a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech from 1967.  Towards the end of the vigil we met a defense contractor and reservist who spoke with us for several minutes about why we were there and about what it means to follow Jesus. When I asked him if he knew about the Yemeni children who were killed by a Lockheed Martin-made bomb during a Saudi attack he said he was aware of what happened. During our conversation he seemed very open to what we shared. We invited him to please contact us in the future.

We concluded our vigil with prayers of intercession, including for the KIng’s Bay Plowshares, and sang “This Little Light of Mine.”

In these turbulent times, let us remember and be inspired by these words from John’s Gospel: “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn. 1:5) Yes, Jesus, our Light, has forever overcome the darkness! And I am ever so grateful for all the witnesses of love, justice, peace and truth– past and present– who have and continue to be such great lights in the darkness! The forces of darkness and death will never overcome the light! With God all things are possible!

With gratitude,




Resist The Air Force Association “Arms Bazaar!”

From September 17-19, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is once again playing host to the Air Force Association (AFA) “Air & Space Conference and Technology Expo,” what we call an “Arms Bazaar.” The AFA, according to its web site, is “the voice for aerospace power and the Air Force family.” The focus for this year’s AFA Arms Bazaar is: “Multi-Domain Operations: Leveraging the Full spectrum.” Some 130 arms contractors taking part in this year’s Arms Bazaar have played a prominent role in U.S. warmaking. These arms contractors, like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, are profiting from war and literally are making a killing! But that’s not all. The Pentagon and numerous arms dealers are committed to U.S. nuclear/military/ cyber superiority and militarizing and controlling space. This is evidenced by the graphic Northrup Grumman Ads on display at the Pentagon right now that reads: “Building the Future of of Space to Defend the Future of Earth.”

As the world’s preeminent military superpower, the U.S. is the world’s leading arms dealer. The U.S. State Department set a new one-year record for clearing weapon sales, with $75.9 billion cleared by the department and announced by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in fiscal 2017.

The U.S. supplies weapons to much of NATO and Middle Eastern allies like Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi’s have been using weapons from arms contractors like Lockheed Martin, to kill innocent Yemenis.On August 9, 2018 the Saudi military used a 500 pound Lockheed Martin made MK 82 laser guided bomb in an attack on a school-bus in the market of Dahyan in Saada province of Yemen, which killed over 50 people, including 40 children. Ali Mohammed Hasssan Da’i–10 years old; Ali Zaid Hussein Tayeb–9 years old, were among those killed. And on September 15, 2018, Aljazeera reported that two more Yemeni children were killed in yet another bombing by the U.S.-backed Saudi-UAE Military Alliance. Three year old Nabil and new-born baby girl Sumood were killed when a bomb struck their home in the Saada Province’s Marran district. Imagine if these children were members of our own families or friends of ours–how would we feel? It is a grave miscarriage of justice that those responsible for this criminal act will never be held to account.

U.S. arms sales in the Middle East are fueling widespread wars in the region, as the U.S. continues its quest to destroy ISIS. In concert with weapons contractors participating in the AFA Arms Bazaar, the U.S. is engaged in direct military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, continues its military support for the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, proceeds with its military “pivot” in the Asia-Pacific to threaten and contain China, and wages its killer drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

In its pursuit to dominate space, the Trump Administration wants to create a “Space Force,” a new branch of the U.S. military. The U.S. government continues its “Missile Defense” deployments encircling China and Russia, constituting a flagrant violation of its Anti-Ballistic missile treaty with Russia. Moreover, instead of ratifying the new UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, U.S. plans to spend $1 trillion over the next thirty years to modernize its own nuclear arsenal is already underway. And the U.S. Congress and Trump Administration just recently robbed the public treasury by authorizing a staggering $717 billion to be spent on the 2019 FY military budget! The U.S. military is also the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels which is directly destabilizing the earth’s climate. These are all criminal acts which must be resisted!

The victims cry out for justice, and the earth, under daily assault, groans in travail!

During its three day Arms Bazaar, the AFA is sponsoring nearly 40 forums addressing how the U.S. can refine its warmaking apparatus and cyber capability so it can dominate earth and space. On Monday, September 17, the AFA is holding a $300+ per plate banquet honoring outstanding airmen. We decry the AFA Arms Bazaar for what it is: a scandalous affront to God, a theft from the poor, and a threat to people worldwide!

Who will speak for the poor and the victims, as arms dealers reap huge profits from their lethal weapons and death technology? Who will protect our sacred earth and environment? We urgently need, more than ever, to nonviolently resist all war and violence–from Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza, to Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, Charlottesville, D.C. and elsewhere. Together, in solidarity with Campaign Nonviolence who are engaged in nonviolent actions throughout the U.S. at this time, the Poor People’s Campaign and peace and justice-makers everywhere, let us continue to do all we can to establish the Beloved Community, end the climate crisis, eradicate poverty and create a world free of nuclear and conventional weapons, killer drones, war, racial hatred and oppression.In the name of God, who calls us to love and not to hate, demonize and kill, it’s time to end the AFA Arms Bazaar!

Please join with members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi and other peacemakers as we seek to say YES to Life and a resounding NO to the merchants of death and war profiteers.

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

Published in: on September 19, 2018 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  

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