Report on the Sept. 7, 2018 Trial of Art Laffin for Poor People’s Campaign Action on May 29 Outside of Sen. McConnell’s Office Another Deeply Held Conviction!

Dear Friends,

On Friday, September 7, 2018, I was tried before Magistrate Judge Shana Matini in D.C. Superior Court as a result of the May 29th Poor People’s Campaign witness outside the office of Sen. McConnell (see below info about this action). I viewed the trial as an important opportunity to continue the witness of the PPC, this time in a courtroom!  While conveying the urgent message of the PPC, we were also faced with challenging an extremely difficult and limiting statute that I was charged under. Ultimately, I came out of this trial with yet another deeply held conviction!

By way of background, I was charged under a disorderly conduct statute which was changed several years ago to grant police wide latitude in ordering arrests. The subsection of the statute that I was charged with reads as follows:

(b)(1) It is unlawful for a person, alone or in concert with others, to engage in a demonstration in an area where it is otherwise unlawful to demonstrate and to continue or resume engaging in a demonstration after being instructed by a law enforcement officer to cease engaging in a demonstration.

(2) For purposes of this subsection, the term “demonstration” means marching, congregating, standing, sitting, lying down, parading, demonstrating, or patrolling by one or more persons, with or without signs, for the purpose of persuading one or more individuals, or the public, or to protest some action, attitude, or belief…

It was a long day dealing with the court system. All who were present to offer their support showed amazing patience and resilience. The trial, originally scheduled for 9:30 AM, did not actually begin until 12:55 p.m. During this break I received a remarkable phone call of support from 160 people involved in the PPC who were meeting outside of Baltimore. I am ever so grateful for this heartfelt solidarity as well as from an earlier phone message that was passed on to me from Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the PPC.

During the trial I represented myself. Mark Goldstone, an outstanding lawyer and friend who has assisted and represented activists in court cases dating back to the 1980’s, acted in an advisory capacity. The government put on its case, which included one witness, a U.S. Capitol police officer who arrested me, and submitting into evidence a short video and one photograph that was taken after I was arrested. I cross-examined the officer who basically testified that although he did not see me blocking or obstructing anyone, I was still obstructing the hallway.  He also said that I was “actively demonstrating,” chanting and praying. When the government rested its case, I offered a motion for judgment of acquittal which was denied.

After the judge called for an hour lunch recess, the trial resumed around 2:30 PM. I then began my case. I called two witnesses whom I questioned: Rev. Graylan Hagler and Sr. Ardeth Platte, both long-time friends and steadfast peace and justice makers, both of whom gave eloquent and moving testimonies. Graylan, who is senior pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church and co-chair of the DMV PPC, was the first to testify. While Graylan was not arrested for this particular action (he was arrested at several other PPC actions) he was present for the May 29th witness. He spoke about his ministry and the purpose of the PPC. During Graylan’s testimony we entered into evidence the “Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America Fact Sheet, April, 2018” and the “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Fundamental Principles.”

Ardeth, a Dominican sister who is 83 and celebrating 65 years as a professed religious, testified next. She conveyed to the court her experience as an educator, an elected official and her decades-long work for nuclear disarmament and the abolition of war.

Both Graylan and Ardeth testified that our action on May 29th was a nonviolent witness whereby we were actually lobbying and advocating for policy change. It was emphasized that our presence that day was to be a “witness.” It was asserted that if lobbyists can lobby without getting arrested, why can’t we, as people of faith and conscience, do the same? They both testified that they didn’t see me or anyone blocking or impeding the Senator’s office or hallway. After they were both cross-examined by the prosecutor, I rested my case. The government then offered its closing argument and I offered mine (see below). Toward the end of my closing statement  Magistrate Matini interrupted me and said that she had given me enough leeway to speak about my views and that I should just stick to the facts of the case. I then proceeded to finish my statement.

Before rendering her verdict, Magistrate Matini, did something that most judges I’ve been before rarely do– she offered a supporting viewpoint to something I said. She said that there was additional information she wanted to add to my closing. Regarding my reference to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist Doomsday Clock now set at 2 minutes before midnight, she remarkably stated that she recently learned that the world is now closer than 2 minutes before midnight. She then declared that while she may share similar views that were put forth in the defense case, she was bound by the statute of the law and that there was sufficient evidence to find me guilty.  At sentencing I shared with her that I was a volunteer at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and that despite the fact that she found me guilty I believe in my heart that I committed no crime. The government prosecutor recommended that I be fined $500. She responded by saying that as a judge she has latitude sentencing. She said she did not believe in fines because it is unfair to the poor who cannot pay them and while the rich can easily pay them. Thus, I was surprisingly sentenced to time served (the time I was actually police custody) with a mandatory assessment of $50 to be paid to the victims of violent crime fund. At the end of the hearing I thanked the judge for what she said.

I want to express my appreciation to Mark Goldstone, who did a superb job assisting me as legal adviser. I am also deeply grateful to Rev. Graylan Hagler and Sr. Ardeth Platte for being extraordinary trial witnesses. I am especially thankful, too, for all who were present in court offering their support–Sr. Carol Gilbert, Mike Walli, Kathy Boylan, Rev. Chuck Booker, Malachy Kilbride and Bill Barbieri–and for all those who could not attend the trial and who sent messages of support and were in prayerful solidarity.

In these turbulent times, let us continue to keep our eyes on the prize and hope on as we strive together to help create the Beloved Community!

With great gratitude, Art

 

Art’s Closing Statement

You have heard evidence form Rev. Graylon Hagler and Sr. Ardeth Platte about the Poor People’s Campaign nonviolent witness on May 29 and what they saw me do.

Regarding the legalities of the case, I renew the Motion for Judgment of Acquittal that I made earlier. Additionally, there is no evidence that I obstructed or blocked anyone from going into or leaving the Senator’s office, or that I was boisterous. Despite what the government has claimed, I did not unlawfully assemble. Simply put, my action was a lawful witness with people of faith and conscience who are committed to making God’s reign of justice, love and peace a reality in our country and world.

There is no evidence that anyone from Senator McConnell’s office asked me to leave the hallway because I was interfering with the work of the office. There is no sign saying that I could not be present outside his office or in the hallway

Why should I be arrested for nonviolently making an appeal to those in position of power that we can’t kill? Why should I be arrested for praying?

The action I and my friends took on May 29 is part of a long biblical tradition of n.v. resistance to injustice and killing.

I acted in the tradition of Jesus,  Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr.,  Caesar Chavez of the United Farmworkers and Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker and countless other nonviolent peace and justice makers. Regarding Dr. King, why is it that we have a National Holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., who broke the law on numerous occasions in order to expose and resist violence and social injustice? Because we recognize that his actions were morally and legally justified and necessary in order to bring about constructive change and justice in our society. My actions, I submit, were in concert with Dr. King’s.

What do we do when human law conflicts with God’s law? Do we uphold human laws that sanctions injustice and killing? Or do we uphold God’s command to love one another and not to kill?

As a person of faith I believe we have to uphold God’s law first.

It was never my intention to commit a crime on May 29. I was simply trying to appeal to political leaders to avert more needless death and suffering by calling for an end to state-sanctioned violence and racially motivated killing in our society.

Since our May 29 witness there have been more war and gun-related deaths.

For example, just look at what happened on August 9, 2018 in Yemen, as but one of numerous gruesome acts resulting from the U.S. backed–Saudi war against Yemen.

On August 9, 2018 the Saudi military used a U.S.-made Lockheed Martin bomb in an attack on a school-bus in Yemen which killed over 50 people,  including 40 children,  in the market of Dahyan in Saada province. Here are the names of two of the children killed: Ali Mohammed Hasssan Da’i–10 years old; Ali Zaid Hussein Tayeb–9 years old. 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.

On May 29 I, and other friends in the Poor People’s Campaign, were witnessing to prevent such massacres from occurring.

On May 29 I, and others from the Poor People’s Campaign, were also appealing to the Sen. Majority leader to call for the conversion of  the U.S. war economy which, with the passage of the recent 2019 military budget bill, has reached a staggering $717 billion. How can this exorbitant military spending be legal when some 140 million people are living in poverty in the U.S.? How can such a budget be tolerated when last year 45 people in D.C. who experienced homelessness died without the dignity of a home? Just think how this massive misuse of money and resources could be better spent meeting urgent human needs. This money could instead provide health-care for all God’s children everywhere, housing for the homeless, and jobs for the unemployed. This $ could also go a long way to help alleviate poverty, provide clean drinking water in places like Flint, MI, rebuild Puerto Rico, and reverse the climate crisis by decreasing  our reliance on fossil fuels and investing in environmentally friendly renewable energy. Now is the time to convert our war economy, cancel plans for a Space Force, and disarm our nuclear arsenal, killer drones and all weapons of war.

On May 29, the Poor People’s Campaign was also trying to address the tragic proliferation of guns in the U.S. and to demand an end to racial violence. With some 300 million guns now in the U.S., the epidemic of gun-violence across the nation claims countless lives daily. And we continue to witness the horrific killings of people of color by police and vigilantes. In our action on May 29 we were pleading with Congress to ban assault weapons (and I would add all guns), and  demand an end to the scourge of racial violence and gun-violence!

If the victims were here and could grace this courtroom with their presence, what would they tell us?  What would the several million victims of U.S. warmaking in Iraq say to us? What would the tens of thousands of victims in Afghanistan and Yemen say to us? What would  the victims of the Charleston, Las Vegas, Orlando and Parkland shootings say to us? What would  Amadou Diallo, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Nia Wilson, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray, to name but a few, say to us?

In his famous song, “Blowin in the Wind,” songwriter Bob Dylan sings: “How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died?  This question is as relevant now as it was when Dylan first sung this verse. How many more people have to needlessly die before we take action to prevent it?

Tragically, we live in a world where killing has become the norm. Renowned psychiatrist, Robert Jay Lifton, refers to the time we live in as one of “malignant normality,” where the abnormal has become normal. (I was interrupted by the Judge and had to abbreviate most of this paragraph which is in brackets). [Examples of this date back to when the Nazi doctors cooperated with the Nazi regime to kill rather than to heal. Today, psychologists continue this practice by participating in torture at Guantanamo.  And we now have political leaders, including those in the highest positions in government,  who have tried to normalize destructive behavior. This malignant normality is now most painfully evidenced by the fact that the ending of all life on our planet has become a real possibility. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has now turned it’s Doomsday Day Clock to 2 minutes before midnight, due to the colossal dangers posed by the apocalyptic twins of climate crisis and nuclear war.  And so, as Einstein once said, we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe].

St. Paul writes that: “Love is the fulfillment of the law.”

William Penn: “Always put justice above the law.”

Despite what the government has claimed and charged me with, this case is really about the love and justice that St. Paul and William Penn speaks about.

The task at hand before us all is to uphold the law of love and justice and to do all we can to nonviolently stop the killing, abolish war and all weapons, end systemic racism and inequality, protect and cherish the earth and all of God’s creation and to seek to create the Beloved Community. This is what I and my friends tried to do on May 29. I invite you, Judge Matini, and Prosecutor Mason to please join us in the Poor People’s Campaign as we seek to bring about a moral revival in our country that can help transform our political and economic order into one that is based on love, justice, nonviolence and, which has as its greatest priority, serving the common good.

Judge Matini,  I committed no crime. I submit that the police order to arrest me was not lawful. I believe that I, nor my associates, should never had been arrested as we were acting within our first amendment rights. I therefore ask you to find me not guilty.  Thank you for your patience in listening to me.

Published in: on September 9, 2018 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Kings Bay Plowshares Action

The Kings Bay Plowshares Action
Speaker: Paul Magno

Date: Friday, September 7, 2018 @ 7:30 p.m.

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

On April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. Jr., seven Catholic peacemakers, seeking to enflesh the biblical prophesy to “beat swords into plowshares,” carried out a plowshares action at the Kings Bay Trident facility in St. Mary’s, Georgia. Kings Bay is home port to six nuclear armed Trident ballistic missile submarines with the combined explosive power of over 9000 Hiroshima bombs.

For their action they were charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor: conspiracy, destruction of property on a naval installation, depredation of government property and trespass. If convicted they face the prospect of long prison terms.

Three of the seven are still being held in pre-trial detention and the four remain under house arrest as they await their trial. No trial date has yet been set. See: https://www.kingsbayplowshares7.org.

Paul Magno is a longtime peacemaker, plowshares activist and Dorothy Day Catholic Worker alumni who now resides at the Jonah House Community in Baltimore. Since the Kings Bay Plowshares action occurred, Paul has helped coordinate supports efforts on their behalf. He will speak about the purpose of this action, the current status of the Kings Bay Plowshares–those in and out of jail, what they face in their upcoming trial and what people can do to offer solidarity and support.

Please join us!

For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649, artlaffin@hotmail.com

Published in: on August 27, 2018 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of Aug. 9, 2018 Prayer Service of Repentance to Commemorate U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Nagasaki Outside White House

Dear Friends,

On Aug. 9, from Noon-1:00 PM, about 30 people from the faith-based DC-MD-VA peace community held a prayer service of repentance on Pennsylvania Ave. outside the White House to commemorate the U.S. Nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The prayer service began with a word of welcome and reflection that I offered (see below— revised from the Aug. 6 Pentagon Prayer Service).

Judy Coode and Jean Stokan then read the powerful Hiroshima Peace Declaration that was delieved by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui at a special Commemoration in Hiroshima on August 6, 2018 (see:https://www.wagingpeace.org/2018-hiroshima-peace-declaration/

Scott Wright then gave a compelling introduction to the “Apology Petition.” (see below)

This was followed by Shizuko, a Japanese peace activist, singing the inspiring song of the A-Bomb survivors in Japanese and offering a brief reflection.

Bob Cooke and Mike Walli then led a Litany of Repentance.

This was followed by Jean inviting prayers from the gathered community. Moving prayers were offered and after each prayer a rose was placed on a photo of numerous A-Bomb victims that were displayed on the street before us, which became a makeshift shrine to the victims.

Aug. 9 is also the anniversary of the martyrdom of Sr. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, both of whom were killed by the Nazi’s. Stein was martyred on Aug. 9, 1942, and Jagerstatter on Aug. 9, 1943. Mary Liepold read a quote from Sr. Stein,  and Sr. Patty Chappell and Rachel Schmidt read quotes from Franz Jagerstatter.

This was followed by Kathy Boylan reading Dan Berrigan’s prophetic poem, “Shadow on the Rock.”

We concluded our witness singing together “I Come and Stand.”

Catholic News Service covered this witness and a link to the story can be found at:

https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2018/08/10/peace-activists-prayer-service-marks-nagasaki-hiroshima-anniversary/

http://catholicphilly.com/2018/08/news/national-news/peace-activists-prayer-service-marks-nagasaki-hiroshima-anniversary/

With hope for a disarmed world,

Art

August 9, 2018 Prayer Service of Repentance to Commemorate U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Nagasaki Outside White House

 

APOLOGY PETITION (Scott Wright)

During our Prayer Service of Repentance in front of the White House on August 6, 2016, this petition was read and presented to Mr. Mimaki, a Hiroshima A-bomb survivor. Over 700 people signed the petition. In September 2016, Mr. Mimaki delivered the petition to the Mayor of Hiroshima and is now in the Hiroshima Peace Museum. This petition was prepared by Scott Wright and Art Laffin. Groups sponsoring the petition include: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi Metro-DC, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team, Little Friends for Peace and Jonah House. 

 

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: An Apology

Envision the World Without Nuclear WeaponsAugust 6 and 9, 2016— 71st Anniversary of the U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki  (Read by Gathered Community)

The anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a time of remembering the horror, repenting the sin and reclaiming a future without nuclear weapons. It is a time to recommit ourselves to the work of disarming and dismantling the machinery of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons are sinful and idolatrous. Their research, production, possession, deployment and use are a crime against God and humanity. We decry the fact that the U.S. government plans to commit a trillion dollars to modernize its existing nuclear arsenal over the next thirty years.

On this August 6 and 9, we gather with people of faith and conscience across the globe to mark the anniversary with a daily presence of prayer and action. As citizens of the United States, we invite people to publicly ask God for forgiveness for the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which caused the immediate death of more than 200,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more who died in the aftermath as a result of radiation poisoning. Pope Paul VI, in his 1976 World Day of Peace Message, described the bombings as “a butchery of untold magnitude.”

We apologize to the people of Japan – and to the survivors of the bombing, the hibakusha – for our country’s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we ask forgiveness for these atrocities. We repent for the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons at the expense of unmet human needs. Further, we offer repentance for threatening to use nuclear weapons and keeping many of them on a first-strike hair-trigger alert. We firmly resolve, with God’s grace and mercy, to reject the false idols of nuclear weapons, and to embrace the life-affirming work of abolishing these weapons of terror.

Now is the time to pursue non-violent alternatives to war and proclaim a Jubilee Year of Mercy, as both the Scriptures and Pope Francis suggest: to restore justice for the poor; to lay the foundations for peace; and to seek a nuclear-free future for our children. In that spirit, we renew our commitment to the biblical vision of peace, a world without weapons or war, expressed so well by the prophet Isaiah: On that day, “God will rule over all nations and settle disputes for all peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not raise sword against nation; nor will they train for war anymore” (Is 2:4).

 

Opening Reflection by Art Laffin–August 9, 2018 White House Prayer Service of Repentance

Good afternoon. My name is Art Laffin and, on behalf of the DDCW and all other peacemakers present here, we extend greetings of peace to everyone at the White House today.

Seventy-three years ago, on August 6, 1945, the U.S. ushered in the Nuclear Age by committing the unspeakable act of using nuclear weapons against the people of Hiroshima. Three days later, on August 9, the U.S. used a second nuclear weapon against the people of Nagasaki. Over 200,000 Japanese died in these bombings and many thousands more have suffered and died since from the effects of nuclear radiation. The U.S. has never repented for the use of these weapons of indiscriminate mass murder.

We, members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi Metro-DC, and Pax Christi USA, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team, Jonah House, the Assisi Community, Pax Christi International, and the Franciscan Action Network, and other friends come to the White House today to say Yes to the God of Life who commands us to love and not to kill, and No to the forces of evil, death and destruction. As people of faith, we stand here in front of the White House with contrite hearts as we call on our nation to join with us in repenting for the colossal sin and crime of building and using nuclear weapons, to apologize to the Japanese and A-Bomb survivors (known as Hibakusha) for our country’s use of the bomb against them, and to demand an end to ongoing immoral and illegal nuclear war preparations.

We also join with people of faith and conscience committed to nuclear disarmament worldwide, including in Japan and here in the U.S., many of whom are holding peace and resistance actions during this time of commemoration, including peacemakers at Büchel Air Force Base in Germany, Los Alamos and Livermore Nuclear Labs, the Bangor nuclear submarine base,  STRATCOM, the Brandywine Peace Community who are acting at Lockheed Martin, and the Manhattan Project for a Nuclear Free Future. We remember, too, the ICAN-sponsored global fast for nuclear disarmament. And we lift up in a special way the witness of the Kings Bay Plowshares, seven Catholic peace activists who carried out a plowshares action at the Kings Bay Trident facility in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4, 2018. Three of the seven are still being held in pre-trial detention and the four remain under house arrest as they await their trial.

Nuclear weapons were conceived of, built and used under a shroud of secrecy and deception. Since the Manhattan Project to create the Bomb began in 1940, the U.S. has spent some $10 trillion building and refining its nuclear arsenal. Instead of leading the world toward nuclear abolition, the U.S. continues to build even deadlier weapons. And it is also using nuclear technology in its efforts to militarize and dominate space.

The violence unleashed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki set in motion a trajectory of unrelenting violence by the U.S. in its wars of aggression that it has waged over the last seven decades, claiming untold lives. In its quest to be the world’s preeminent military superpower, and control vast amounts of the earth’s resources, the U.S. power structure is committed to using whatever military means is necessary, including nuclear weapons, to enforce and protect its interests.

Today, the U.S. government possesses about 6,500 nuclear weapons, many of which are on hair-trigger alert, and proposes to spend an estimated $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize it’s existing nuclear arsenal–a blatant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This deadly venture not only endangers all of creation but is a direct theft from the poor of our nation and world. Let’s be very clear: As Fr. Richard McSorley, S.J. stated in 1976, “It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon!”

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has turned its “Doomsday Clock” to two minutes before midnight to signify the perilous situation facing the world due to the dangers of nuclear war and the climate crisis. This peril has been exacerbated by an unstable U.S. president who has threatened to attack North Korea and Iran. As a leading nuclear superpower, the U.S. practices a double standard by calling on other nations to disarm while, at the same time, it refuses to disarm and instead is rapidly expanding its own nuclear arsenal.

If the U.S. is to ever truly lead the way to real disarmament, it must first repent for the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and endorse and ratify the historic UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. Only then can the U.S legitimately ask other nuclear nations to disarm. To date 59 countries have signed the treaty and 14 have ratified it.

Pope Francis declared: “If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned…The total elimination of nuclear weapons is “both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative” of our time.

If it is wrong to possess nuclear weapons then it is wrong to use them under any circumstance. This means that any one in the military chain of command must refuse orders to ever use these or other similar murderous weapons. Nuclear weapons are anti-God, anti-life and have no right to exist. The Hibakusha plead to the world: “Humankind can’t coexist with nuclear weapons.” Thomas Merton declares that we must “refuse our consent to this colossal crime.” And Martin Luther King Jr., exhorts us: “The choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or non-existence.”

Now is the time for urgent nonviolent action to abolish nuclear weapons, killer drones and all weapons, and to end the scourge of war. If the human family and the earth are to survive, we need to heed the admonitions of the Hibakusha, Pope Francis, Gandhi, King, Merton, Dorothy Day, the Berrigan’s, Archbishop Hunthausen and many other prophets of peace. We need to strive with every fiber of our being to embrace the way of nonviolence, renounce the sin of racism, pursue the path of just peace and create the Beloved Community.

Published in: on August 10, 2018 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Report of Aug. 6, 2018 Pentagon Peace Witness Commemorating the U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima–1 Arrested

“The bomb exploded within 100 feet of the aiming point. The fireball was 18,000 feet across. The temperature at the center of the fireball was 100,000,000 degrees. The people who were near the center became nothing. The whole city was blown to bits and the ruins all caught fire instantly everywhere, burning briskly. 70,000 people were killed right away or died within a few hours. Those who did not die at once suffered great pain. Few of them were soldiers.”  

–From “Original Child Bomb,” by Thomas Merton, describing the firepower, death and destruction that was unleashed on Hiroshima

Dear Friends,

Today, August 6, from 7-8 AM about 20 people from the faith-based peace community in D.C., Virginia and Maryland, held a prayer witness of repentance at the Pentagon to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. (See Prayer Service Program of Repentance Below) This witness was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and cosponsored by Pax Christi Metro-DC, and Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi International, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Assisi Community,  Jonah House, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team and the Franciscan Action Network.

We gathered for the Prayer Service in the Pentagon police designated protest zone which is located in an enclosed space behind a bicycle fence on the southeast corner of the Pentagon near the south parking lot. As hundreds of civilian and military workers streamed into the Pentagon, they saw several prominent messages that were displayed on a sign and banner: “U.S. Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima, August, 6, 1945—Repent,” and: “Remembering the Pain, Repenting the Sin, Reclaiming the Future—Aug. 6-9 Hiroshima & Nagasaki.” The banner also depicted a drawing of an A-Bomb child victim. Vigilers also held photos of victims of Hiroshima and other signs.

The prayer service began with a statement which I offered (see below). Judy Coode then led the reading of  the “Apology Petition” that was shared and presented two years ago to Mr. Mimaki, a Hiroshima Hibakusha, during our August 6, 2016 White House commemoration witness. Over 700 people signed the petition. (see Petition below)

After the second paragaph of the Apology petition was read by Kathy Boylan, she proceeded to walk out onto the sidewalk toward the entrance to the Pentagon holding a banner that said:“Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Butchery of Untold Magnitude”—Pope Paul VI). Kathy was met by Pentagon police and shortly thereafter was handcuffed and taken by Pentagon police to be processed and released. She was charged with “Interfering with Agency Functions,” and “Failure to Obey a Lawful Order,” and given a September 20, 2018 court date.

At the conclusion of the prayer service, we had a closing circle which included a short reflection from Shizuko, a Japanese peace activist who shared about the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, as well as a powerful encounter an A-bomb child had with a U.S. Airman who was involved in the bombing.

To commemorate the U.S. Nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and to call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons, please join us on Thursday, August 9th from Noon – 1:00 PM, where there will be a Prayer Service of Repentance outside the White House. Meet on north side of White House on Pennsylvania Ave.–across from Lafayette Park.  

With hope for a disarmed world,

Art

 

Prayer Service of Repentance for Aug. 6, 2018 Pentagon Witness

OPENING (Art Laffin)

APOLOGY PETITION: (Judy Coode)

During our Prayer Service of Repentance in front of the White House on August 6, 2016, an Apology Petition was read and presented to Mr. Mimaki, a Hiroshima A-bomb survivor. Over 700 people signed the petition. In September 2016, Mr. Mimaki  delivered the petition to the Mayor of Hiroshima and is now at the Hiroshima Peace Museum. This petition was prepared by Scott Wright and Art Laffin. Groups sponsoring the petition include: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi Metro-DC, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team, Little Friends for Peace and Jonah House. 

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: An Apology

Envision the World Without Nuclear WeaponsAugust 6 and 9, 2016— 71st Anniversary of the U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki  (Read By Judy, Kathy Boylan, Tony Magliano and Sr. Quincy)

The anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a time of remembering the horror, repenting the sin and reclaiming a future without nuclear weapons. It is a time to recommit ourselves to the work of disarming and dismantling the machinery of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons are sinful and idolatrous. Their research, production, possession, deployment and use are a crime against God and humanity. We decry the fact that the U.S. government plans to commit a trillion dollars to modernize its existing nuclear arsenal over the next thirty years.

On this August 6 and 9, we gather with people of faith and conscience across the globe to mark the anniversary with a daily presence of prayer and action. As citizens of the United States, we invite people to publicly ask God for forgiveness for the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which caused the immediate death of more than 200,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more who died in the aftermath as a result of radiation poisoning. Pope Paul VI, in his 1976 World Day of Peace Message, described the bombings as “a butchery of untold magnitude.”

We apologize to the people of Japan – and to the survivors of the bombing, the hibakusha – for our country’s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we ask forgiveness for these atrocities. We repent for the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons at the expense of unmet human needs. Further, we offer repentance for threatening to use nuclear weapons and keeping many of them on a first-strike hair-trigger alert. We firmly resolve, with God’s grace and mercy, to reject the false idols of nuclear weapons, and to embrace the life-affirming work of abolishing these weapons of terror.

Now is the time to pursue non-violent alternatives to war and proclaim a Jubilee Year of Mercy, as both the Scriptures and Pope Francis suggest: to restore justice for the poor; to lay the foundations for peace; and to seek a nuclear-free future for our children. In that spirit, we renew our commitment to the biblical vision of peace, a world without weapons or war, expressed so well by the prophet Isaiah: On that day, “God will rule over all nations and settle disputes for all peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not raise sword against nation; nor will they train for war anymore” (Is 2:4).

A-Bomb Survivors Song (Art)

Feast of the Transfiguration Gospel Reading from Mark: 9:2-10 (Marie Dennis)

Let us pray that we can truly listen to Jesus and be transfigured by God’s love. Let us renounce what Dr. King called the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism as we seek to follow the way of nonviolence and create the Beloved Community.

LITANY OF REPENTANCE  (Mike Walli and Jack McHale)

For the U.S. development, use, and continued threatened use of nuclear weapons, Forgive us O God 

For the over 200,000 people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a direct result of the U.S. nuclear bombings, Forgive us O God 

For the countless Japanese A-Bomb survivors who have suffered and died from the effects of nuclear radiation, Forgive us O God 

For the unknown numbers of people who have suffered and died from nuclear testing in the South Pacific, Forgive us O God 

For workers in nuclear facilities who have been exposed to radiation and who have suffered and died,

Forgive us O God

For those living downwind from nuclear facilities who have contracted cancer and other illnesses and who have died, Forgive us O God 

For those prisoners and people with mental disabilities who were subjects of nuclear radiation experiments, Forgive us O God

For the U.S. use of highly toxic radioactive depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and elsewhere which have claimed untold lives and have caused dramatic increases of cancer, leukemia and birth defects in each of the countries where these weapons have been used, Forgive us O God 

For the millions who needlessly suffered and died–past and present–because of the money and resources squandered on weapons and war instead of on programs to help eradicate poverty and preventable diseases, Forgive us O God 

For desecrating the earth and the environmental damage caused by the mining, testing and use of nuclear technology, Forgive us O God 

For the U.S. militarization of space and the dangerous use of nuclear technology in space,

Forgive us O God 

For the U.S. military being the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate, Forgive us O God 

For placing our trust in the false security of weapons and mammon rather than in God, Forgive us O God

 

Community Prayers

 “SHADOW ON THE ROCK” by Daniel Berrigan, SJ (Dan Jackson)

At Hiroshima there’s a museum

and outside that museum there’s a rock,

and on that rock there’s a shadow.

That shadow is all that remains

of the human being who stood there on August 6, 1945

when the nuclear age began.

In the most real sense of the word,

that is the choice before us.

We shall either end war and the nuclear arms race now in this generation,

or we will become Shadows On the Rock.

 

SONG: I COME AND STAND  (Sing Together)

I come and stand at every door, But no one hears my silent prayer, I knock and yet remain unseen, For I am dead, for I am dead.

I’m only seven although I died, In Hiroshima long ago. I’m seven now as I was then, When children die they do not grow.

My hair was scorched by a swirling flame, My eyes grew dim, my eyes grew blind, Death came and turned my bones to dust,

And that was scattered by the wind.

I need no fruit, I need no rice, I need no sweets nor even bread, I ask for nothing for myself, For I am dead, for I am dead.

All that I ask is that for peace, You work today, you work today, So that the children of this world, May live and grow and laugh and play.

 

Published in: on August 6, 2018 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dear Friends,

This is a special invitation to join with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, and co-sponsoring groups Pax Christi Metro-DC, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns and the Sisters of Mercy—Institute Justice Team, Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi International, Franciscan Action Network, Jonah House and the Assisi Community, in two nonviolent acts of public witness at the Pentagon and White House to repent for the U.S. nuclear bombings of Japan on August 6 and August 9, 1945 and to call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons in the U.S. and worldwide. See details below. 

Please share this invitation with your network of friends. I hope you can join us for one or both of these actions.

 With hope for a disarmed world,

 Art Laffin

When and Where:

Monday, August 6 @ Pentagon from 7-8 AM  

August 6th is the anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the Feast of the Transfiguration. There will be a Prayer Service of Repentance and Nonviolent Witness at the Pentagon. Meet at the “designated protest area.”

If you are coming by metro, please get off at Pentagon stop–Yellow Line. Take south exit coming out of metro. When you reach the top of escalator go left and then right on the sidewalk going away from building toward South Parking lot. Vigil site is down on the left side behind a bicycle fence. Please go directly to vigil site where we will briefly convene before starting our Prayer Service of Repentance.

For those driving, there is now limited parking on Army-Navy Dr., Eads Rd. There are new  “Tour Bus Parking Only” signs on Army-Navy from Fern Street (in front of the Residence Inn) extending east about 3/4 of the block going toward Eads. There are, however, six parking spaces for cars on Army-Navy just before you get to Eads. These spaces are usually taken by 6:45 AM as are all the parking spaces around the corner on Eads and all the way down to 12th Street.  

Thursday, August 9 @ White House from Noon – 1 PM

There will be a Prayer Service of Repentance outside the White House. Meet on north side of White House on Pennsylvania Ave.–across from Lafayette Park.  
  

Please join us! For more info contact Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-360-6416, artlaffin@hotmail.com

“Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil”.

(Epitah at bottom of the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial Cenotaph and Peace Flame to remember all the victims of the atomic bombings)

August 6-9 Peace Actions Commemorating the U.S. Nuclear Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

Seventy-three years ago, on August 6 and 9, the U.S. government did the “unspeakable” and dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thus beginning the Nuclear Age. As a result of these bombings, it is estimated that over 135,000 people died in Hiroshima and more than 64,000 in Nagasaki. In the subsequent months and years, many more have died from the effects of burns, radiation sickness and other injuries.
The U.S. has never repented for the use of these weapons of indiscriminate mass murder. Moreover, it has continued to build even deadlier weapons which endanger all of creation. Today the U.S. government possesses nearly 6,500 nuclear weapons, many of which are on hair-trigger alert, and proposes to spend an estimated $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize it’s existing nuclear arsenal. This deadly venture not only endangers all of creation but represents a direct theft from the poor of our nation and world.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has turned its “Doomsday Clock” to two minutes before midnight to signify the perilous situation facing the world due to the dangers of nuclear war and the climate crisis. (https://thebulletin.org/2018-doomsday-clock-statement)  This peril has been exacerbated by an unstable U.S. president  who has threatened to attack North Korea and Iran. As a leading nuclear superpower, the U.S. practices a double standard by calling on other nations to disarm while, at the same time, it refuses to disarm and instead is rapidly expanding its own nuclear arsenal.

On July 7, 2017, at the conclusion of a special “UN Conference To Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons,” 122 countries voted in favor of a historic treaty to legally prohibit nuclear weapons. To date 59 countries have signed the treaty and 11 have ratified it. The “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” bans nuclear weapons and establishes a framework for the elimination of nuclear weapons programs – including warheads, materials, delivery systems and facilities. All of the countries that bear nuclear arms and many others that either come under their protection or host weapons on their soil boycotted the negotiations. We call on the U.S., the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, to endorse this treaty and to lead the way to total worldwide nuclear disarmament. (For more info about the UN Treaty and Aug. 6-9 ICAN–sponsored worldwide Fast to Abolish Nuclear Weapons see: http://www.icanw.org)

Pope Francis declared:

“If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned…International relations cannot be held captive to military force, mutual intimidation, and the parading of stockpiles of arms. Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family…The total elimination of nuclear weapons is “both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative” of our time.”

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2017/november/documents/papa-francesco_20171110_convegno-disarmointegrale.html

The A-Bomb Survivors (Hibakusha) plead to the world:

“Humans Cannot Coexist with Nuclear Weapons!”

http://www.un.org/en/conf/npt/2010/pdf/japanconfederation.pdf


Published in: on July 11, 2018 at 5:41 pm  Leave a Comment