Peace Activists Storm Milwaukee's Bastille Days

Don the Drone with others


Pauc's son and Francis Pauc
MILWAUKEE—About a dozen peace activists, most Catholic Workers, made their way though Milwaukee’s Bastille Days on Saturday, July 16, 2011.  Dressed as drones, a grim reaper and clowns, the group distributed mock million-dollar bills with information on the back about the use of Drones in the U.S.  Bastille Days is an annual festival held in downtown Milwaukee the largest French-themed festival in North America.

One of the group’s members was Francis Pauc.  Pauc, the military man turned pacifist, is a West Point graduate spent six years as a commissioned officer and five of those as a helipcopter pilot.  Pauc’s observation of his participation in the action as well as additional writing by Pauc are may be read at this link.

More photographs are at:

Call State Dept Emergency Operations Center about Conditions on The Audacity of Hope!


Regina Carey, Jenny Linnell, Ann Wright

ATHENS – The imprisonment of the U.S. Boat to Gaza continues since its seizure July 1, The Audacity of Hope is being held at a U.S. Embassy shared pier near Piraeus, Greece, just outside of Athens.  Three passengers are still on the boat and being held in inhumane conditions.

The U.S. Embassy has done absolutely nothing to help them in 100 + degree heat at a U.S. Government shared pier!  No shore power, no alternatives provided (like another pier). No consular visits to see the conditions for themselves. NOTHING, ABSOULTELY NOTHING!!!

This weekend, please call the State Department 202-647-6575 and ask for the 24 hour Emergency Operations Center. Tell them that 3 people are still enduring the inhumane, dangerous conditions on the boat.

All are women--2 Americans and 1 UK citizen.  They are:

Regina Carey (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/07/06/18683952.php) from San Rafael, California, is a consultant specializing in strategic planning and planned giving. In her lifetime commitment to human rights she has focused her time and energy to the Rights of the Indigenous (original people), Water Rights and Peace. She is a co-founder of the Black/Jewish Dialogue Group in Marin County, California. She has been an active participant in the World Social Forum and the UN Conference Against Racism (Durban, South Africa).

Crew member Jenny Linnell, is a British citizen from Devon, England, and was a Free Gaza crew member in 2008 on the first boat that broke the naval blockade of Gaza.  She stayed in Gaza for a year and worked with the International Solidarity Movement.  Her exit from Gaza into Egypt a year later took more than six weeks because she had arrived by boat. She holds a "Day Skipper" license from the Royal Yachting Association and founded a sailing collective called "Learning the Ropes".

Ann Wright is a former U.S. diplomat with 16 years in the State Department and Deputy Chief of Mission (Deputy Ambassador) at 4 U.S. Embassies (Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia) and who got the State Department's award for Heroism for her actions protecting civilians during the civil war in Sierra Leone. She resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to Bush's war on Iraq.


July Court Date for Twenty Arrested at New KC Nuclear Plant


Protesters on May 2
Twenty civil resisters who were arrested for trespassing at the site for the new nuclear weapons parts plant in southern Kansas City will come to Municipal Court for hearings on July 19; the expected time is 1:30 p.m.  The 20 were among 53 persons who trespassed May 2 at the site for the new plant at Mo. Hwy. 150, between Botts Road and Prospect, near Grandview.
Earlier reports were that 52 had been arrested.

An earlier story is here.

Woman Faces Jail Time for Vegetable Garden in Front Yard

By RESHMA KIRPALANI
July 12, 2011

Julie Bass faces the prospect of going to jail for what she's growing in her front yard.
The illegal growth is tomatos. And zuchinis, peppers and other edible and what normally would be legal plants.

The officials in Bass' hometown of Oak Park, Mich., have charged her with growing "vegetable garden in front yard space." If convicted, she could spend up to 93 days in jail.
Bass said that the criminal charge "blew my mind." "Sometimes we laugh because it seems so silly and sometimes we cry because it's so pathetic. A lot of times it does not seem real," she told ABCNews.com.

Bass has insisted on a jury trial and a pre-trial hearing is set for July 26. If the case goes to court Bass' attorney Solomon Radner does not believe that a jury will convict his client of a crime.

"Michelle Obama plants vegetables on White House front lawn. I don't think the jury is going to think that it's suitable for the White House, but it's not suitable for Oak Park," said Radner.
The first lady's office, which is encouraging growing fresh vegetables to help fight childhood obesity, declined to comment on the Oak Park vegetable case.

Bass got the idea to plant a garden in front yard after it was torn up over a busted sewage pipe.
"There were piles of dirt outside and we knew we had to do something," Bass said. "We looked into putting in sod but it was shockingly expensive, so we starting looking into other books to do something a little more cost effective. We found pictures in a bunch of different library books of garden beds. It was perfect and we had a blank canvas."

Front Yard Vegetable Garden Called a Crime

In May, Bass started planting green tomatoes, zucchini and baby peppers among other vegetables, in five large, decorative planter boxes in the family's front yard. She claims that she sought and received approval from both neighbors and city officials in her Detroit suburb.
Oak Park's Planning and Technology director Kevin Rulkowski told ABC News affiliate WXYZ, "I told her don't do it, and she went ahead and did it anyway."

Bass said that Rulkowski's claims are "completely not true." She said, "He told me that he found out that we couldn't put fences around the front of the property, but he wasn't able to find anything specific to vegetables…He said the city allows decorative plantings."

According to Bass,the family hired professionals to make the planter boxes, bought tomato trellises, paving stones and a swing at a cost of over $500.

"What I understood is that they wanted something that would look nice," Bass said. "We thought that if we do it in a nice orderly way, we could make it pretty and aesthetically pleasing."

An Oak Park city councilman allegedly received two complaints about the garden resembling a "New Orleans cemetery." After an initial warning, Oak Park code enforcement officer Kevin Jones issued Bass a citation on June 8 for growing a vegetable garden on the front yard of her own property.

"At first we just thought the city was trying to bully us into backing down," Bass said. "There are people all over the city of Oak Park have planter boxes."

The Oak Park city screening and landscaping ordinance states, "All unpaved portions of the [screening and landscaping] site shall be planted with grass ground cover, shrubbery, or other suitable live plant material."

The debate is over what is "suitable."

"If you look at the dictionary, suitable means common. You can look all throughout the city and you'll never find another vegetable garden that consumes the entire front yard," Rulkowski told ABC affiliate WXYZ.

Radner disagrees. "Suitable does not have any meaning," he said. "What one person may think is pretty or suitable another person may think is terribly ugly or not suitable. That's why I think this prosecution is unconstitutional."

Radner also pointed to an exception listed in the city ordinance that specifically allows vegetable gardens: "Exempted from the provisions of this article, inclusive, are flower gardens, plots of shrubbery, vegetable gardens and small grain plots."

"You can't make this stuff up," Radner said.



Source:

Denouncing war on Libya, White House action points to revitalized movement

A show of unity against U.S./NATO aggression

JULY 13, 2011


Bashir, a Libyan citizen, had driven all the way from Colorado to Washington, D.C., to deliver a simple message: “NATO is killing our civilians, not saving our civilians.” Bashir was joined by hundreds of others who picketed outside the White House on July 9 with signs that read “No War for Oil,” “Money for Jobs and Education, Not War on Libya” and “Stop Bombing Africa!”

Numerous polls show that the people of the United States oppose the Libya war by a 2-1 margin despite the extreme pro-war propaganda churned out by the corporate media—which again has shown itself to be the fourth branch of government.

But this anti-war sentiment has not yet been reflected in mass anti-war activity. This was the significance of the July 9 protest initiated by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). Despite the 96-degree heat index, for the first time hundreds of people came together to stand up, be counted and register their dissent at the President’s doorstep against the war on Libya. History has shown that mass movements can quickly grow from such gatherings, and this could again be the case if the war were to escalate. Over the last few weeks, the resistance of the Libyan people and government has only seemed to grow, exposing the imperialists’ vision of quick regime change as an unattainable dream.

Several protesters explained that Cynthia McKinney’s “Eyewitness Libya” tour in June had moved them to take action. One was José, a 57-year-old Vietnam veteran from the Bronx, who sees in this war striking parallels to the one he experienced. “Once again innocents are being killed for the profits of a small group of rich people. Vietnam touched all of us—let’s not let war touch this generation the same way.”

Michael Ben-Elohim, 28, of New Haven, Conn., explained his presence at the march as an obligation as a descendent of Africa, which NATO was hoping to “re-colonize” through Libya. Calling out the one-sided media coverage, he asked, “Where are the pictures of the civilians being killed by NATO’s bombs?”

A significant majority of the protesters on July 9 were African American or African immigrants, and several dozen Ivorians enthusiastically participated in the march. In April, French and UN troops moved into the Ivory Coast to help remove President Laurent Gbagbo, who had steered the traditional French client state towards a more independent foreign policy. This intervention, which placed the pro-French opposition leader into power, was also justified on “humanitarian” grounds.

For Ben, 39, an Ivorian immigrant living in New York City, the interventions in Africa are all about natural resources: “In the Ivory Coast, they want our coffee and cocoa beans; in Libya, they want the oil.” Ben, an unemployed college graduate, pointed out that the U.S. government seems more interested in creating war than jobs.

Albert Josiah, 25, had seen a flyer for the July 9 protest lying on the sidewalk in Baltimore, Md., where he lives. Josiah, who is of Liberian descent, has opposed the war from the start, which he believes is “for the government’s self-interest—for oil.” The action at the White House was the first protest Josiah has ever attended, but he was eager to get back to Baltimore and “get the information out to our neighborhoods.”

Rakim Jenkins, a 21-year-old activist in the Black Student Union at the City College of New York, made the point, “When other people are being oppressed, we are too. Some people might not believe that this is their fight, but that could be your mother, father, brother or sister being bombed.” While explaining that he was supportive of Obama’s election, “Dr. King and Malcolm X would not sanction what he’s doing in Libya.”

The anti-war action was opposed by a group of about 50 pro-war Libyans who waved the flag of the Libyan rebels and chanted “Thank you, NATO!” One prominent sign, trivializing the death and destruction wrought by the war, read “NATO: You’re the bomb (literally).”

The pro-war grouping’s claim to represent the aspirations of the Libyan people is clearly a lie, according to Khalifa Mohammed, a Libyan citizen who came from Massachusetts to join the anti-war action. He told Liberation : “I will not respond to them. I will let the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated in Sabha [in southern Libya] yesterday respond to them. I will let the 1 million who came out in Tripoli last Friday respond to them. The majority of the Libyan people have spoken and they are against the war.”

After two hours of chanting and picketing, the anti-war crowd marched to an indoor rally several blocks away. There, speakers included Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition; Akbar Muhammad, International Representative of the Nation of Islam; Khalifa Mohammed, a Libyan studying abroad in the United States; Leo Gnawa of CRI-Panafricain-USA; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund; and Salim Akhtar of the American Muslim Alliance Foundation. Masake Kane, a student at Towson University and member of the ANSWER Coalition, chaired the indoor rally.

The action drew buses of protesters from Harlem, and vans and cars from Baltimore, Md.; Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and State College, Pa.; New Haven, Conn.; and elsewhere. On the ride home, each bus had a speak-out that gave individuals a chance to reflect on their experiences and address their fellow passengers. Juanita Thomas, an activist with Afrikan Unity of Harlem, Inc., linked the war on Libya with the continuous disrespect that the United Nations shows towards the sovereignty of African countries. Jinnette Caceres, a schoolteacher and ANSWER Coalition activist, explained that future generations will want to know how the U.S. government got away with yet another war for oil: “I don’t want to look my students in the eye and say I did nothing to stop it.”

The July 9 protest was coupled with a solidarity rally that took place in San Francisco, Calif. Rather than a one-time event, the theme of the day was to use the action as a jumping-off point for a summer of anti-war activism. The next big rally scheduled is on August 13 in Harlem. A broad coalition of organizations will be working together to demand an end to the wars and sanctions on African countries, and that the government use its vast resources to meet the need for jobs and education.

Source:

Y-12 Convicts Receive Sentencing Dates

Michael Walli, Steve Baggarly, Brad Lyttle, Mary Dennis Lentsch, Beth Rosdatter, Carol Gilbert, Jean Gump, Ardeth Platte, Jackie Hudson, Dennis Duvall, Bonnie Urfer, Bill Bichsel, David Corcoran (L to R, top to bottom)


Twelve disarmament activists have received sentencing dates.  The Twelve were convicted of federal trespass following a three-day jury trial in U.S. District court here during which the activists — under an order issued earlier by the court which effectively stripped the defendants of any substantive affirmative defenses — were prevented from questioning or even mentioning the outlaw status of nuclear weapons. The twelve were charged after a demonstration July 5, 2010 at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. They face up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. 

Their sentencing dates are as follows:

Bill Bichsel Sept. 12 at 1:30
Jean Gump Sept. 12 at 9:30
Bonnie Urfer Sept. 14 at 1:00
Sr. Carol Gilbert Sept. 16 at 9:30
Sr. Ardeth Platte Sept. 16 at 1:30
Jackie Hudson Sept. 19 at 9:30
Michael Walli Sept. 19 at 1:30
Brad Lyttle Sept. 20 at 1:30
Steve Baggarly Sept. 20 at 9:30
Sr. Mary Dennis Lentch Sept. 21 at 9:30
Paula Rosdatter Sept. 21 at 1:30
Dave Corcoran Sept. 22 at 9:30
Dennis Duvall Sept. 22 at 9:30


For more info and updates contact:
Ralph Hutchison

Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance

Liz McAlister
Jonah House

Leonard Eiger
Disarm Now Plowshares

John LaForge
Nukewatch
(715) 472-4185

Twin Cities says, “Hey FBI: Hands off Carlos Montes!”

 by Sarah Martin

SAINT PAUL, MN – More than 50 people attended a press conference here to stand in solidarity with Carlos Montes, July 6, at the weekly Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge Peace Vigil. Marie Braun, organizer of the weekly actions on the bridge that spans the Mississippi River, said, “We are focusing today on opposition to the FBI raids and ongoing investigation of peace activists here and around the country and we stand in solidarity with them and Carlos Montes.”

Earlier in the day, Montes pleaded not guilty to six felony gun permit charges in a Los Angeles County courtroom packed with his supporters and friends.

Meredith Aby, who was raided and subpoenaed by the FBI on Sept. 24, 2010, spoke for the Anti-War Committee. Their office was also raided and Montes’ name was on the search warrant. Aby said, “He is being targeted not because he has committed a crime but because of his activism with the movement here in the Twin Cities.” Montes helped organize the marches on the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul in 2008. “I can’t be silent as he defends himself against trumped up criminal charges. He has been an important voice for building unity between the anti-war movement and the immigrant rights movement and now we will unite in standing behind him,” she said.

“The documents Carlos received at his last court appearance show that the FBI prompted the L.A. sheriff raid,” Aby reported.

Chris Getowicz, who spoke for the University of Minnesota chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society said, “Carlos has continued to be a part of multiple generations of struggle in the Chicano community for civil rights, for immigrant rights and in the antiwar movement. He has been an inspiration to our work and has always encouraged us in our struggles, offering us the courage to fight as he has.”
The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee’s spokesperson, Niger, closed the rally with the classic chant: "¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!"

People were asked to continue to call Attorney General Holder at 202-514-2001 and tell him to drop the charges against Montes and stop the FBI raids and Grand Jury repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists.

Montes’ next court date is August 12.

Source:

Rutherford Institute Defends Female Protester Arrested for Attempting to Pass Through Airport Security Scanner in Underwear

RALEIGH-DURHAM, N.C. — The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a North Carolina woman who was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after she stripped down to her underwear at a Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) checkpoint to protest the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) whole body imaging scanners. Police arrested and charged Siobhán Cooke with disorderly conduct as a result of her act of protest at RDU on June 2, 2011. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute will represent Cooke at her August 24 court appearance.

"The First Amendment not only assures citizens of the right to express themselves but also to voice their disagreement with the government," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. "To classify Siobhán Cooke's singular act of protest as criminal disorderly conduct is to reject everything the First Amendment stands for and the long history of jurisprudence that goes along with it. TSA agents and police should have known better."

On June 2, 2011, Siobhán Cooke arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) with her mother and a companion to board a flight to Portland, Ore., as part of a celebration of her mother's 70th birthday. Upon approaching the RDU security checkpoint, Cooke observed that TSA agents were directing passengers to whole body imaging scanners. Unwilling to be subjected to a virtual strip search by government agents and determined to protest the use of the scanners, which Cooke believes is a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights, Cooke proceeded to strip down to her underwear. Placing her t-shirt and jeans on a conveyer belt for scanning along with the baggage she was carrying, Cooke then approached the TSA agent wearing only a bra and panties, and voiced her desire to opt out of the scanner. Cooke also added that it should be clear that she posed no threat because there was nowhere for her to hide anything. A TSA supervisor was then called, who allegedly asked Cooke if she was crazy and told another agent to gather Cooke's clothes from the conveyer and return them to Cooke.

Cooke, who by then had put her outer clothes back on, explained that she objected to the invasive searches employed by the TSA. After informing Cooke that her actions were distracting, the TSA supervisor called local police to the scene and took Cooke to a small room near the checkpoint. When a police officer arrived, he questioned Cooke in the room for several minutes and then issued her a citation for violating a North Carolina statute prohibiting disorderly conduct.

The Rutherford Institute is presently litigating a number of cases challenging the constitutionality of enhanced TSA security measures. In 2010, Institute attorneys filed lawsuits asserting that the TSA's policy of using whole body imaging scanners and/or enhanced pat downs of passengers violates the Fourth Amendment rights of airline pilots and passengers. In March 2011, Institute attorneys filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of a Virginia college student who was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after he appeared at an airport security checkpoint in his running shorts with the text of the Fourth Amendment written on his chest. He was eventually exonerated.

Source:

US Boat to Gaza Passengers Begin Their Way Home

by Leslie Cagen

July 6th Update from the U.S. Boat to Gaza

The presence of the U.S. Boat to Gaza in Athens is winding down. For more than two weeks the 37 passengers (someone was added at the last moment), four crew members and about twelve people in the support team there worked hard to make sure their boat - The Audacity of Hope - could sail as part of the international Freedom Flotilla 2 to Gaza. The Greek government's willingness to serve as the enforcer of Israeli's naval blockade of Gaza made it impossible for this journey to happen.

But the creative and determined spirit of this team of committed activists could not be stopped or silenced. They worked tirelessly to make the point in countless ways: they attempted to set sail knowing it might lead to a confrontation with the Greek authorities, they stood by the boat's captain when he was arrested and jailed for several days, several people held a hunger strike for a few days, everyone marched and rallied with other flotilla activists and with the people of Athens in their own struggle for economic justice, and incredible energy went into getting the word out to people throughout this country and around the world as the work with the media continued through it all.

Last night the group's activities in Athens ended and here's a description from one of our people there:

"We all went to Syntagma Square which looks much like Tahrir where there is an encampment and thousands of people gather each night. On Sundays there may be upwards of 50,000 and on big nights hundreds of thousands. We unfurled to drum beats 22 flags sewn together representing the countries participating in the Flotilla. Our black and white signs were in Greek, Arabic and English. It was a beautiful sight. Then we marched to the Spanish Embassy where our Spanish partners were occupying its embassy demanding the release of their boat. We arrived at about 9 pm with drummers leading the way. They came out on balconies and we sang to each other. It was quite the sight."

Here's a link to video footage of last night's activity: 


Now our folks are beginning the journey home - some will arrive today, some tomorrow and others in the days ahead. Everyone is tired, but their energy is strong! They will share their stories and talk about their experiences in communities everywhere. And they will use this incredible time they shared in Athens as a spring board for further activism and organizing.

As soon as we can, we will send more information about the next steps and how you all can stay involved in the work to end the Israeli naval blockade and lift the siege of Gaza, as well as the efforts to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. That, after all is said and done, is what this effort has been about, and that is the work that must continue.

Below is a quick overview of several items related to our presence in Athens and our work with the flotilla. In the coming days we will be including further updates on our website so please check there. Also, remember, there are great photos and videos from these last two weeks on our site...check them out!



JULY 6, 2011 OVERVIEW

1) Captain Released
Our boat’s captain – John Klusmire – had a hearing on Tuesday in a Greek court. He was released from jail, where he had been since Saturday morning, and was told he had no restrictions or limitations on his movements or activities. The charges against him were not dropped then, but at his noon hearing today at a courthouse in the port of Piraeus, the judge (In a rebuke to the government )dismissed all charges and immediately released Klusmire. The move was interpreted as a victory for Palestine solidarity and for the Greek institution of protecting an independent judiciary but we are hopeful that eventually they will be. Thanks everyone for all of the calls and email messages you sent to Greek and U.S. authorities in support of John!  The captain had been charged with attempting to pilot the ship out of the harbor without the proper clearances.

2) Hunger Strike Over
The 9 passengers who were on a hunger strike in support of our captain ended their fast. On Sunday they had been detained by the Athens police for several hours, and then on Monday 6 people (some others and some of the same folks) were again detained and then let go a few hours later. Everyone was fine and since then no one has been held by the police.

3) Our Boat
The Audacity of Hope remains in the hands of Greek authorities and we do not yet know when they will release it. Several of our people are staying in Athens for the foreseeable future to make sure the boat is safe. While we do not own the boat – we leased it from a Greek company – we feel a responsibility to make sure it is returned to its owner in good condition.

4) Information on Some of the Other Boats – Please note that the situation for each boat has been constantly changing so it’s possible that some of this information could already be out of date. We will try to get an update on the boats on our website as soon as possible.

a    a) On 7/5, the Greek Boat to Gaza group held a press conference at the Athens Press Club. Present were Dimitris Plionis, an organizer from the Greek group, Dr. Mattias Gardell of the partner group Swedish Boat to Gaza, Members of Parliament Tasos Kourakis and Theodoris Dritsas 2 MPs, and Green Party representative Iannis Tsironis. They denounced the government actions and policies forbidding ships of the Flotilla to leave Greek ports, effectively extending the Israeli siege of Gaza to Greek waters and outsourcing the siege of Gaza. Also attending in solidarity was MP Panagiotis Kouroublis, who had recently been expelled from the ruling PASOK Party for voting against the IMF austerity plan. He was given a standing ovation when he entered the hall.

b) The owners and crew of the Greek/Swedish/Norwegian passenger boat Juliano went on board in the port of Perama near Piraeus, and attempted to take the boat to the port town of Fokia, approximately 10 km. away, where they were due to attend a welcome ceremony at the invitation of the Fokia mayor, honoring the passengers and crew. However, the port authorities prevented the boat from leaving, without citing any justification. In the meantime, two rented boats filled with journalists and supporters gathered at the port to cover the action and to demand release of the boat, and have been confronted by port police. At latest report, the standoff continues, and a crowd of people is gathering at the Perama Port Authority to demand the release of the boat.

c) Passengers of the Spanish boat Guernica entered the Spanish embassy in Athens and staged a sit-in, demanding that the Spanish government intercede with Greece to release the boat. They hoisted the Palestinian flag and are refusing to leave until their boat is given permission to leave.

d) Canadian citizen Sandra Ruch remains in custody in the port city of Aghios Nikolaos. She and one other Suha Kneen, Michael Coleman, Australian Canadian were charged with impeding coast guard authorities by placing themselves in kayaks in front of police boats attempting to stop the Canadian boat, Tahrir from leaving Greek waters. They have been charged with interfering with law enforcement.

e) The other French passenger boat Karameh is again at sea in international waters, awaiting the other boats in the Flotilla. After leaving France, it proceeded to the eastern Mediterranean, where it sheltered in a safe port before returning to international waters.



Leslie Cagen is coordinator of US Boat to Gaza.


Jailed for Fasting at US Embassy in Athens

UPDATE:  The Captain of the US Boat has just been released from jail.  The charges have not been dropped, but he is free to go anywhere, no bail, no restriction.  More details when available.




by Medea Benjamin

Nine passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza began an open-ended fast in front of the U.S. Embassy on the evening of July 3, calling on the U.S. government to pressure Greece to release our Captain and ship. We staked out a little area across the street from the Embassy entrance, decorating it with Free Gaza/Free Our Boat signs and two American flags placed upside down as a distress signal.


Top, L-R:  Nic Abramson, Ken Mayers, Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly,
Bottom, L-R: Ray McGovern, Kit Kitteridge, Carol Murry, Paki Wieland

At 10pm, several hundred flotilla supporters, most of them from Greece, marched to the Embassy to show solidarity with us. The Greek police blocked off the street to keep the two groups apart, but the fasters linked arms and marched down the road to meet them in a joyous reunion. After singing and chanting together (separated by a police line), the marchers moved on.

Linda Durham was also detained.
The fasters were then harassed by police, who insisted that we could not spend the night in front of the Embassy. The police were very apologetic, not anxious to arrest a group of fasting Americans on the 4th of July. But they were getting pressure from their officers to move us, as all embassies have secure areas around them. They said that if our embassy gave us permission to stay, then we could. We tried for hours to get in touch with a representative from the embassy. One wonders what happens in a real emergency! Finally the Duty Officer said that the Embassy did not authorize our stay.

At midnight, the police reluctantly lifted us up and put us into police cars. The nine people detained are Linda Durham, Ken Mayers, Carol Murry, Paki Wieland, Ray McGovern, Brad Taylor, Kit Kitteridge, Kathy Kelly and myself (Medea Benjamin). They took us to the police station, where we had to give them our passports and other details. After detaining us for three hours, we were released at 3am.

Undeterred, the fasters are back at the Embassy today, continuing the vigil.

Once again, our embassy has proven to be deaf to our cries, working hand-in-glove with the Israelis to thwart are mission. How shameful, especially on the 4th of July! It’s time for theU.S. to declare its independence from Israel!

Make sure to watch the video of our reunion with the Greek supporters!

Let’s keep the pressure on Washington. They need to tell the Greek government to release our captain and our boat.

Here are some other numbers and email addresses:

• State Department general number:  202-647-4000 - ask for the Overseas U.S. Citizen Services Duty Officer and you’ll get a live State Dept. official who has to hear you out.
• You can email the U.S. Embassy in Athens at:  athensamemb@state.gov or you can send an email to them at: athensamericancitizenservices@state.gov
• If you can place an international phone call, the number for the U.S. Embassy in Athens is 011-30-210-721-2951.

Please also try to call, fax or email your members of Congress as well.
More information is on our website: ustogaza.org
Help us keep the pressure up. Thanks for all the support!

Carl Kabat Arrested Following Action at Nuke Construction Site

Carl Kabat

Fr. Carl Kabat has been arrested and is being held at a downtown Kansas City jail after an action at the construction site of a new nuclear weapons plant.  He was charged with illegal entry and released early Tuesday morning. July 5, 2011


Kabat entered the construction site of the new nuclear bomb factory in Kansas City, Missouri at approximately 10:00 p.m. on July 3.  At dawn on July 4 he had broken the windows of a number of the large cranes present there.  We are awaiting more information, such as the circumstances of his arrest, but do know that Carl is currently being held at the downtown Kansas City, Missouri jail.  


Kabat had phoned friends early on July 4, 2011, after disrupting construction of the at the site.  In those calls he told friends what he had done and that he was looking for someone to whom to “confess” his action, but had found no one.  His plan at that point was to leave the site and go home, but he has not been seen since.

Kabat was on the site of the new nuclear weapons site being constructed south of Kansas City.  The site was also the focus of resistance and direct action nearly a year ago.

Kabat left the following statement before traveling to the site.
__________


Crane Pruning Hook

I, Fr. Carl Kabat, omi, have been pondering an appropriate way to celebrate the fourth of July, commonly called Independence Day. Today it would be more appropriate to call it Interdependence Day since all of us live on this small planet Earth.

To show my patriotism and love for my country and the good of my country, I have decided on a pruning hook action in Kansas City, Missouri.

Nuclear site construction crane.
The opinion of the 1995 World Court is that weapons of mass destruction are a crime against humanity. Christian churches have said that it is a sin to build a nuclear weapon. Churches have declared that nuclear weapons are a crime against The Holy One and humanity and are to be condemned unreservedly! Some have further stated that the manufacturing, deployment or use of nuclear must be condemned unreservedly. The Nazis during WWII killed and burned 6 million of our Jewish sisters and brothers and 5 million sisters and brothers (who were communists, priests, Gypsies, enemy combatants, homosexuals, people with disabilities, etc).

Now four of our Minuteman IIIs could, in thirty minutes, travel half way around the world and kill twelve million of our sisters and brothers. We have become very sophisticated and efficient in our killing and burning. We have more nuclear weapons than all the rest of the world combined and at one time could kill everyone on this planet fifteen times over.

Eighty five percent (85%) of the parts for nuclear bombs are made by the people of Kansas City. May The Holy One have mercy on us all! By my action I wish to en-flesh the reversal of our insane actions and hope that we will start to celebrate interdependence and rid ourselves of nuclear weapons.

Peace, Fr. Carl Kabat, omi


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Photo of the resistance action that took place at the same site last year.

More information about Kabat:


More information about KCP, the new nuclear plant:


Six women pardoned for 1963 civil rights protest arrests

E. Dashanaba King, Carolyn Louise King and Betty J. King, (The Birmingham News / Michelle Campbell)

by Eric Velasco

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Six women were pardoned Tuesday, July 5, 2011, for their 1963 convictions in Birmingham for parading without a permit while protesting segregation-era laws.

The pardons were presented by Mayor William Bell during the Birmingham City Council meeting. They were approved by the city's Board of Pardons and Paroles under a city law known as the Rosa Parks Act.

The pardons were for Betty J. King, Carolyn Louise King, Gwendolyn L. King, Patricia Rose Wooding, Sandra R. Wooding and Mariea Wooding. Betty King, now known as BJ Love King, initiated the request for pardons for convictions of violating a city ordinance, according to a city news release. She and her sisters, Carolyn King and the late Gwendolyn King, were the daughters of Rev. Floyd King, Sr.

In 1964, Carolyn King, now known as C. Tasmiya King-Miller, integrated Jones Valley High School. In 2002, a street near the school was dedicated in her name.

Patricia Wooding Davis and Sandra Wooding Eastland, the daughters of Norman Wooding Jr., were active in the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the civil rights era. Mariea Wooding, the daughter of Frank Wooding, participated in desegregation protests in Alabama and Tennessee.

All six women were active as students in civil-rights era protests in Birmingham and all participated in the historic March on Washington in 1963.

Patricia Wooding Davis and Gwendolyn King were pardoned posthumously.

The city's Rosa Parks Act, named for one of the icons of the civil rights movement, was passed in 2009. It is modeled on a 2006 state law passed to provide pardons to the hundreds of people arrested and convicted for protesting segregationist laws that later were overturned.

Source:

Urgent! Eight of Gaza Flotilla Arrested! Please take action!

UPDATE:  Eight now released.


US Boat to Gaza just sent word that all eight have now been released.  Pressure is still need, however, to free the Captain and the boat.


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U.S. Boat to Gaza has just issued the following statement:


Top, L-R:  Nic Abramson, Ken Mayers, Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly,
Bottom, L-R: Ray McGovern, Kit Kitteridge, Carol Murry, Paki Wieland
The eight people who were fasting in front of the U.S. Embassy have been arrested. They are Ken Mayers, Carol Murry, Medea Benjamin, Paki Wieland, Ray McGovern, Brad Taylor, Kit Kitteridge and Kathy Kelly.

Let's keep the pressure on Washington. They need to pressure the Greek government to release our captain, our boat and now these 8 people as well! Let them sail to Gaza!!

Here are some other numbers and email addresses to try:
  • State Department general number:  202-647-4000 - ask for the Overseas U.S. Citizen Services Duty Officer and you'll get a live State Dept. official who has to hear you out. 
  • The voicemail for Kim Richter - also at the State Dept. -  says she's out of the office for several days, and that callers with urgent issues should contact a colleague at 202-647-4578. 
  • You can email the U.S. Embassy in Athens at:  athensamemb@state.gov or you can send an email to them at: athensamericancitizenservices@state.gov
  • If you can place an international phone call, the number for the U.S. Embassy in Athens is 011-30-210-721-2951.

Please also try to call, fax or email your members of Congress as well.

More information is on our website: ustogaza.org


U.S. passengers on flotilla start open-ended fast at U.S. Embassy in Athens

    Demand that U.S. government pressure Greece to free their boat and captain, and allow boat to sail to Gaza
    Top, L-R:  Nic Abramson, Ken Mayers, Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly,
    Bottom, L-R: Ray McGovern, Kit Kitteridge, Carol Murry, Paki Wieland
    Members of the U.S. Boat to Gaza have begun an open-ended fast calling on the U.S. government to defend our right to sail out of Greece. The fast has begun in front of the U.S. Embassy at 91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue in Athens. Fasters delivered an urgent letter to the Embassy and plan to sleep overnight outside the Embassy gates.
    Passengers and U.S. boat organizers participating in the fast are: Medea Benjamin, Ken Mayers, Paki Wieland, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern, Helaine Meisler, Nic Abramson, and Carol Murry.
    Passenger Kathy Kelly said, “We call on officials at the U.S. Embassy in Athens to publicly acknowledge our right to sail and to call on the Greek government to free our ship and its captain immediately.”
    There will also be a march in support of the flotilla beginning at 7 pm organized by Greek activists who have been protesting the government’s austerity measures in Syntagma Square. The march will include a demand on the Greek government to let all of the boats in the Freedom Flotilla 2 sail to Gaza and to free the captain of the U.S. ship, who has been held in jail.
    The departure of the U.S. Boat to Gaza – The Audacity of Hope – was first delayed by a complaint filed by the Israel Law Center and shown to be frivolous. Greek authorities then inspected the boat but, until the boat set sail five days later, the results of that inspection has not been shared with the captain and his crew.
    The Greek Coast Guard stopped The Audacity of Hope some 20 minutes after it had left the dock on Friday, July 1. The Coast Guard ordered the captain to stop the ship, which he did. Commandos with drawn rifles ordered the ship to return. It is now impounded at a military dock in Athens and the captain has been arrested.
    Over the past two weeks, two boats of the international flotilla to Gaza have been sabotaged while docked at Greek ports. The potential danger to the U.S. boat was obvious to the captain, the crew and the passengers: there was a clear possibility that the U.S. boat would be sabotaged next.
    Greek consular officials in the United States, when besieged with calls by angry Americans, told callers that they should direct their protest to U.S. officials because they were ultimately responsible. “We know that the U.S. government has been supporting Israel’s underhanded efforts to thwart the flotilla, and has been pressuring the Greek government to stop us. This is a disgrace,” said passenger/faster Medea Benjamin. “On July 4, it’s time for our government to declare independence from Israel and start supporting its own citizens.”
    We note that on June 24, passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza visited the Consul General in Athens, Deputy Consul General Kate Brandeis agreed that the U.S. Boat “had a right to sail to Gaza.”
    Ms. Brandeis assured the passengers that the consulate was there to assist U.S. citizens that run into difficulty while in Greece. To date, we have received no assistance from the U.S. Embassy and the captain of our boat, a U.S. citizen, remains in jail and has yet to be visited by anyone from the U.S. Embassy.
    Contact:
    Athens: Donna Nevel (30) 694-266-3852, Medea Benjamin (30) 698-404-7912
    NY: Leslie Cagan 845- 688-5646
    For more information: