Plowshares 7 Convicted

Brunswick, Georgia – late October

No one was allowed to wear shirts with messages into the court room for the Kings Bay 7 Trident Plowshares Trial. Outside of the court house Veteran For Peace members, complete with a black and white VFP flag, joined Catholic Workers and many others educating people in the streets, of the ever present danger of nuclear weapons, and then sitting in the court room absorbing the amazing story of the Kings Bay Trident Plowshares Seven.

These seven, Liz McAllister, Steve Kelly SJ, Mark Colville, Martha Hennessy, Carmen Trotta, Patrick O’Neil and Clare Grady, are Catholics who minister to the poor and marginalized, and take their faith very seriously. Inspired by the biblical prophesy of Isaiah that “in days to come…they shall beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks” they cut their way through metal fences and concertina wire into the Kings Bay Submarine Trident Missile base on April 4th of 2018 to expose the illegal and immoral nuclear missiles ready to be unleashed on the order of the US Commander in Chief. They posted a large banner inside the base that read: The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide.

Two of the seven wore Go-Pro cameras on their heads, knowing these would be confiscated and the videos used as evidence. The prosecution presented about a hundred pieces of evidence including the videos that showed not only the ripping apart of the missile facsimiles but included the audio of Patrick O’Neil’s exhausted grunting from crow bar prying and Carmen Trotta’s frequent gasps of air “phew, phew” as he struggled cutting wires into the base.

During their trial, one of the defendants, Clare Grady, objected to the fact that the government did not use either the yellow Crime Scene tape she and others strung around the missile shrine, nor the copy of Daniel Ellsberg’s book The Doomsday Machine. The government prosecutor noted that yes, the caution tape was observed. Clare corrected him stating it was not a caution tape but a Crime Scene tape. Later, the federal prosecutor noted he did not like the display scene being labeled a shrine by the defendants and didn’t have a copy of the book Ms Grady was referring to. Clare was able to show a Go Pro video that clearly showed the Doomsday book on a sidewalk inside of the base. She presented a substitute copy accepted by Judge Lisa Godby Wood as an exhibit for the defense.

The defendants, especially Patrick O’Neil, expressed satisfaction with Judge Wood. Although she had issued a gag order to stop international law experts from testifying, and refused to allow the use of the Religious Freedom Act or use of the necessity defense plea, she overruled most government objections to defendants speaking of their religious beliefs or explaining the symbolic meaning of their use of human blood, and their comments on the idolatry shown in the Shrine Gods of Metal display.

A jury of twelve, mostly women, found the seven defendants guilty as charged on all four counts. Judge Wood has 90 days to decide on a sentence. All were released to await sentencing except Steve Kelly, a Jesuit priest who was returned to jail in shackles. Kelly has another charge awaiting him on the west coast at the Pacific Fleet Trident base at Bangor, Washington. Fr Kelly has spent ten years in prison for previous nonviolent Plowshare actions.

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BCPA / TPN.com School Grant Winner

Broome County Peace Action in collaboration with teachpeacenow.com have secured a modest victory for peace education (albeit a high quality one) with BCPA’s funding of Binghamton’s Benjamin Franklin Elementary School’s social action project, “Culturally Responsive Authors Club”. This is the inaugural year of the Teach Peace & Justice Action Research Grant program. It was designed to encourage teachers and students in Broome County to take positive actions that will foster peace and justice in their school and community.

Brigitte Pittarelli, a teacher at Ben Franklin Elementary will coordinate with Rose Olsen from Binghamton University to recruit bilingual interns to help them and ten E.L.L. (English Language Learners) students publish a book composed of language experience stories. Over a course of eight meetings from February until the middle of April 2020, ELL students will work collaboratively as authors to create language experience stories about how to help others understand cultural responsiveness.

This initiative is designed to help decrease conflicts due to a lack of understanding cultural differences. Students will share stories with each other, their teacher and the Binghamton University mentors of difficult situations that they face at school. Through this dialogue, students will work cooperatively to create a narrative piece to share with others. By attaining an understanding of the typical reactions to common behaviors in their academic world between the E.L.L. peers and their grade level peers, students are empowered to create a more peaceful environment for themselves and for the school community, at large.

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Climate Change and Peace Issues

By Jim Clune

A recent post by Medea Benjamin of Codepink connects numerous ways the climate crisis and militarism are intertwined. In this post, I’m paraphrasing her piece, as well as including other relevant facts.

Ms. Benjamin states that our military protects Big Oil around the world, and that the Pentagon is the largest consumer of fossil fuel in the world. Indeed, more than 147 other nations combined! Kate Yoder of Grist reports that the US military has pumped 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, just since 2001. Medea laments that the money that could be used to address the climate crisis is, instead, monopolized by our military that accounts for over 50% of the national budget, as it has for decades.

Moreover, the Defense Department has created a toxic legacy of PCBs, asbestos, and dioxin exposures, nationally and globally. The pollution that is most horrible is the depleted uranium (DU) used in anti-tank shells. The exploding shells produce a carcinogenic and radioactive aerosol that remains active in the environment for thousands of years. The ghastly results of DU poisoning on newborn children in Iraq is currently evident. (See “War on the World”, a dispatch by Murtaza Hussainon theintercept.com of 9-15-19.)

While the US military poisons the planet with pollution, it sabotages international climate agreements signed in Kyoto and Paris. The U.S. government also refuses to join the International Criminal Court, which would bring some accountability to resource acquisition. Furthermore, our military is increasingly being used to quell resistance to environmental destruction.

Climate change itself aggravates social and political crises, e.g. the drought in Syria since 2011. Mass migration is fueled by regional or national conflicts, but also by weather changes. The xenophobic and tragic backlash in countries receiving refugees has become all too common, particularly in the US.

Climate change and nuclear weapons’ use are the two main sources of potential biosphere destruction. The former requires a major shift in America’s first world lifestyle in order to avoid its catastrophic result. The latter is more easily preventable, but the failure to ban WMD’s is in log jam within our political system. So, as we continue to pollute the world with utter distain, we simultaneously hold the world’s people hostage with planet fracturing firepower. No wonder we are seen, by so many, as the greatest threat to peace and justice in the world today.

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BCPA / VFP 2019 Peace Scarecrows

BCPA / VFP Peace Scarecrows entry in the annual scarecrow competition at Otsiningo Park

Broome County Peace Action and Broome County Veterans for Peace again collaborated on an entry in the county’s annual scarecrow competition at Otsiningo Park. While we did not win the competition, we did spread some public awareness that our groups not only exist but collaborate on spreading our message.

Our vigiling figures held a sign that identified us and invited everyone to come join us at our weekly peace vigil held on Mondays.

Ann Clune

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Children’s Peace Fair

Veterans for Peace & Peace Action of Broome County worked together to produce a Children’s Peace Fair this past Hiroshima Day, August 6. Adults said it was a resounding success. The abundant, joyful sound of children support that conclusion.

Early in the day, adults kept our decades-long tradition around 8 AM as we rang the huge ground bell at the First Congregational Church of Binghamton to sound off the horrific start of the nuclear weapons age, the incineration of Hiroshima.

By 10 AM all was in place for the Fair, but no kids yet. Around 10:15 a few came and then someone called out: “Look whose coming!” Children by the score were hiking to the Fair from the Urban League and Columbus Park many blocks away. Hearts were raised to see them flock around the large bell to help ring in the Children’s Peace Fair.

Some children were interviewed by local TV reporters while Hilary Rozek, Choir Director of her elementary school group, Kenny’s Kid’s, sang peace songs on the church steps. Later, Hilary would come back with 24 high school kids to perform a great song and dance routine from the play she was directing, “Lion King, Jr”. Mrs Terry Dempsey had two tables that included a Peace PhotoShop activity, multiple peace-oriented games and art such as painting peace slogans or words on rocks to be left in parks or given to others. A big attraction were parrots – birds rescued and maintained by Jennifer Jones of Parrott Rescue. She had kids feeding a large blue and gold macaw and an Australian sulfur-crested cockatoo. Helena Garan and Nancy McDonough offered kimonos for kids to try on. One young woman didn’t shed her kimono until the fair was almost over. Silvia Martinichio invited children to learn Yoga on the Front St lawn side of the church. One little three-year-old, red head stole the show among these new yoga performers. MaryEllen Gilroy had kids doing sidewalk chalk drawings of peace symbols as her sister Maureen had kids creating a large Peace Puzzle. Marlene Lausen had a table of origami papers and taught kids (and Fr. Tim Taugher) the art of paper folding. Cecily O’Neil offered kids homemade Peace Scarves as Josie & Ameerah, teenage Johnson City Middle School girls, wowed the crowd with their talented dance moves. Ann Clune, Jim Clune and Ellen Connett offered kids watermelon, ice cream bars and ice pop sticks–thanks to the generosity of Bonnie Mando and Doug Garner.

All the while our videographer, Vera Scroggins, was busy capturing the action that she later put on YouTube as a five-minute video, entitled “Children’s Peace Fair, Binghamton NY”. Please go online and take a look.

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My Lai Touring Exhibit in Binghamton

My Lai Memorial Exhibit is a project of Chicago Veterans for Peace and honors the Vietnamese people who died as a result of our political and military actions in their country during the Vietnam War.

Your donation to My Lai Memorial Exhibit will help us defray the costs of displaying.

Broome County Public Library

  • Thursday 11/7 – 10am to 8pm
  • Friday 11/8 – 10am to 5pm
  • Saturday 11/9 – 10am to 2pm

The My Lai Memorial Exhibition reception will be at the Broome County Library at 4 PM on Thursday, November 7th. Remarks by designer/artist from Veterans for Peace Chicago, Mac McDevitt, music by folk artist Andru Bemis. Snacks and drinks.

A woman at My Lai trying to protect women and children from U.S. troops who killed more than 500 villagers, including women and children on March 16, 1968

Sponsored by Peace Action of Broome and Veterans for Peace
More info contact Jack Gilroy 607.239.9605 or VFPbroomecounty@gmail.com

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Our Main Mission: No Nuclear Weapons

By Jim Clune

The original impetus to forming Broome County Peace Action was the Freeze Campaign of the 1980’s.

However, the nuclear weapons never went away. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock is now set at 2 minutes to midnight. The current resident of the Oval Office tears up treaties with impunity and calls for a new arms race, even into space, while Pentagon planners continue to pursue “total spectrum dominance” of all of humanity.

It is hard to get public attention onto American Weapons of Mass Destruction because they have institutional momentum with unlimited funding, timid political will to oppose them, and most people are just trying to financially and medically survive. The survival of life on this planet hangs in the balance while other ways of plundering our environment economically and socially continue apace. Holding WMD’s at humanity’s collective throats sets the pattern. It is not just that a nuclear accident could occur, but that the destruction is already happening to almost everybody and everything under an ongoing 73-year reign of terror.

The existence of WMD’s calls into question our morality as a species, the fate of the poor of the world which is on track to eventually include almost everybody, and the entire balance of factors that allow ANY life on this planet to continue, even if the bombs never go off.

The King’s Bay Plowshares 7 (Kingsbayplowshares7.org or Kings Bay Plowshare on Facebook) are nonviolent activists who entered the Trident sub base in King’s Bay, Georgia last year on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. They are awaiting trial. Their message was loud and clear: “The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide.” Getting rid of all WMD’s is quite doable, and is a necessary first step to addressing ALL other questions.

It is time to face our fears and self-imposed limitations. We deserve a better fate than this, and we are all quite capable of choosing a different course, believe it or not.

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Weekly Peace Vigil Marks 20 Years of Standing Up For Peace

By Ann Clune

On Monday, April 22 we marked the twenty-year anniversary of our weekly vigil for peace. Members of Broome County Peace Action, Broome County Veterans for Peace, and friends gathered in front of the Federal building on Henry Street in Binghamton with a variety of posters and banners addressing current issues and the need to work for justice and peace.
We believe true peace is not merely the absence of war, so our signs reflect many issues encompassing militarism, racism, environmental destruction, and oppression.

It all began in April of 1999, when, in solidarity with an international day of protests against the US/United Nations bombing of Yugoslavia, a coalition of peace and justice organizations held a demonstration at the Federal Building in downtown Binghamton. That gathering led to holding weekly vigils in solidarity with international “Bridges of Light” when people in Kosovo stood with candles and lanterns on bridges to prevent the bombing of their vital infrastructure

When that campaign ended, we decided to continue to hold weekly peace vigils, moving the vigil back to the Federal Building on Henry Street for the symbolism of addressing national policies, and changed to Monday afternoons around rush hour for the sake of visibility and public attention.

This weekly peace vigil has continued for 20 years, meeting for about an hour beginning at 4:30 PM (4:00 from late fall till the return of daylight-saving time) every Monday, with a few temporary changes of site, and in recent years some limited breaks due to winter weather.

Besides promoting public awareness of important human issues, we find that standing together gives an enjoyable opportunity to chat with agreeable friends, and gives us a sense of support and a sense of hope, as so many passers-by honk, wave, and thank us. There are comparatively few negative reactions. Please join us any week you can for any part of the hour.

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Three Courageous Congresswomen

By Fred Trzcinski

The jackals have been unleashed!

The venom and the smears have been spreading daily, notably targeting three of our newest congressional representatives, viz., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Besides being “freshman” Members of our Congress, they happen to be women of color, outspoken, well-educated, young and smart as the dickens! Oh, and by the way, two of them are (Gasp!) Muslims.

In my opinion, the attacks on the aforementioned individuals have reached their zenith with the publication of the New York Post’s cover page this past April 11th. With a backdrop of the horrific burning World Trade Center, Representative Omar was grossly misquoted regarding 9/11. With no pun intended, the cover was inflammatory, insensitive, racist, hateful and outrageously misleading. Seemingly, by impulse and no surprise to anyone, our president jumped into the fray to add fuel to the firestorm by tweeting his own hateful and misleading video. Fox News and various right-wing pundits piled on with their own diatribes.

Sadly, the April 11th piece is just the tip of the iceberg as to what the far right media have been spewing since the election of these three Members of Congress. Representative Tlaib quickly attracted right wing wrath when she used an expletive (Oh horrors!) while suggesting that President Trump should be impeached. Given our president’s expletive use (think of the Billy Bush interview on the bus), she was probably thinking that such language is the new Washington norm. Nevertheless, Tlaib was incessantly attacked.

Even more notable, Omar early on touched the “third rail”, criticizing the
relationship between our nation’s leadership and the Israeli lobbies and “allegiance to Israel”. A firestorm erupted and as published in the April 1st edition of the The Nation, “irate lobby officials demanded that the Democratic House leadership punish Omar for what they falsely claimed was her use of an anti-Semitic slur regarding Jews and dual loyalty— words and meaning that she never spoke or implied.” And of course we all know that Israeli lobbyists have little, if any, influence upon our elections or legislation. It is just the right thing to do to funnel billions of dollars each year to Israel rather than support the people of Flint, Michigan or Puerto Rico (Wink! Wink!).

Turning attention to Representative AOC, she has genuinely been fresh meat for the right-wing media. In particular she has been, and continues to be attacked for her support of “The Green New Deal” which addresses climate change and income inequality. Frankly, a day does not seem to go by when the New York Post or Fox News does not attack or mischaracterize what either of our three new representatives have to say or do.
The same seems to be true for our president and his attacks on anyone who dares to speak truth to power.

Lastly, and perhaps most disturbing has been the silence and absence of support for these three courageous representatives from their more senior colleagues of their very own party. Not much from Senators Schumer or Gillibrand. Not much from Speaker Pelosi. And so it goes.

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Teach Peace & Justice Action Research Grant

By Tim Wolcott

Do you have a child, grandchild, niece or nephew who seems more concerned about right rather than might? Do they live and learn in Broome County? If so, a recent collaboration between Broome County Peace Action and TeachPeaceNow.com might be of interest to you. If one of their teachers and their principal support your child’s concerns for peace and justice, please consider supporting them as well.

Why should people of all ages participate in social action and service projects?

  1. They develop a history of being involved in making a difference.
  2. They learn that working together gives people power.
  3. They learn that taking effective action is a process that involves
    specific skills.
  4. We build on the natural desire of people of good-heart to be fair and
    right wrongs.
  5. It relieves the stress caused by the feeling that we are helpless and
    must be shielded by government and movers and shakers in society.

The Teach Peace & Justice grant program’s mission is to encourage students to initiate discussions on injustice and areas of conflict resolution. The program seeks to link academic skills with activities designed to promote peace, justice and social activism. Under the guidance of teachers, students will research and solve problems in their school and community. Effective Peace & Justice Action projects address numerous areas in the curriculum. Students will use mathematics in collecting and analyzing statistics, writing in developing their ideas, the arts in designing marketing and instructional materials, and the social sciences in coming to understand the workings of law and government. Collaborative participation will provide opportunities for students to use their creativity and imaginations as well as develop 21st century skills including critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.

For the 2019–2020 school year a total of $ 1,000 is available. From this amount, three grants will be made: one for elementary, one for middle school, and one for high school. The funds provided by a Teach Peace & Justice Grant can be used toward research, materials, and activities needed to successfully carry out the project.

For the 2019 – 2020 school year, grant applications will be accepted starting September 10, 2019. The DEADLINE to apply is October 31, 2019. Successful applicants will be notified by November 20, 2019.

Applications are only accepted online at teachpeacenow.com/bcpeaceaction-grant-program

For information concerning grant requirements, project ideas, possible solutions and the grant assessment rubric, please visit TeachPeaceNow.com or bcpeaceaction.org.

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