You haven't seen much activity on this Blog lately because I have been rather busy supporting the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 whose trial ended on December 13th with their convictions on all counts in the U.S. District Court's mock trial. I say mock trial because the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants were hamstrung by the government (both the court and the prosecution), which limited their ability to utilize valid defense arguments, among them the necessity defense and Nuremberg Principles.
The government would neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons at the Bangor Trident submarine base and Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific (SWFPAC) that are known far and wide to be home to one of the largest concentrations of nuclear weapons in the world.
And yet, the efforts of the Disarm Now Plowshares are not in vain. Their actions are helping build public awareness and galvanize the nuclear abolition community. Many others also resist our government's illegal activities on many fronts.
Fr. Louis Vitale and others continue to engage in nonviolent resistance to the U.S. School of the Americas (SOA), now euphemistically termed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation by the U.S. government.
Fr. Vitale is once again in jail for trying to uphold the law at SOA just as the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 did at Bangor. Our government, which would rather not have a discussion surrounding the real issues, continues to reduce them to charges such as trespassing while it continues to feed masses of innocent victims to its war machinery.
What follows is Fr. Vitale's Dec. 8th message from jail. It is a fitting Christmas message as it calls on us to declare peace amidst the cacophony of war making; to move the world towards peace in the year.
May it be so. Peace,
Photo Credit: Fr. Louie Vitale by Cindy Callahan
by Fr. Louis Vitale, Dec. 8 2010
HERE WE ARE AGAINVitale is serving a 6 month sentence for trespass at Ft. Benning. He is temporarily at Victorville until they move him to Lompoc Prison. Until then you can send notes of support to Fr. Louie c/o the Nuclear Resister, PO Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733.
Two weeks have passed since David Omondi and I began our sojourn here
at Irwin County Detention Center in southern Georgia. Some may say, "Vitale has protested himself back into the pokey below the Mason-Dixon line" and "He has been jailed again in an effort to bring peace and social justice." SF Chronicle 11/28
Many ask, "Why do you keep doing this?" We try to respond: "Because the oppression goes on and our nation is a major participant in that oppression of the poor and of all creation." Specifically this manifestation of mourning focuses on the School of the Americas (WHINSEC) at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where U.S. military have taught counter-insurgency techniques, including torture and disappearance, to Latin American military. It still goes on, as recently observed with the outrageous coup in Honduras carried out by graduates of the School of the Americas. In fact, our involvement in oppressive militarism extends throughout the world!
But why so many times at Ft. Benning (my fourth arrest and incarceration, and so far from my home base)? The School of the Americas is an icon of our intrusion into developing countries over many years and the source of horrific massacres including religious leaders and thousands of peasants. Also Ft. Benning is a major military base feeding vast numbers into the war machine. Thousands gather annually to mourn the victims and to call for an end to our war machine that continues to grow into more bases, nuclear weapons manufacturing facilities, even into space war (and the new X-37B militarized version of the space shuttle).
Are we ready to declare peace and act in its presence? Let's call - with all our energy - for nonviolent solutions now, transforming many peoples' lives and our world. Our work is cut out for us as we must be vigilant and active with nonviolent resistance. May we move towards peace in the new year.