March to Guantanamo I have been on the road for 7 days and have been walking 100 klm for five of them to a US military navy base that is surrounded by a nation that does not want it there It is a place where no US citizen can visit legally. What a sinister place to build a prison where the inmates are abused and tortured and stripped of any rights under the Geneva convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention Against Torture. Today after a long journey twenty five us Catholic Workers arrived at the gate that the Bush administration thought no American could get to. We crossed a line no one but a Cuban military officer has crossed since the revolution almost 50 years ago. We hung three banners got down on our knees and Sr. Ann Montgomery Father Steve Kelly and Father Bill Frankel Streit said mass We now demand to see the prisoners. We ask you all to put pressure on the military and the administration to open the gates. We are vigiling twenty four hours a day in front of the gate. Let us carry this witness into this unlawful place. This was the impossible journey. So many barricades that were put in front of us have fallen to the wayside And we just kept on walking we were told we could not walk anywhere we marched no banners we hung banners no leafleting we leafletted no marching through the city of Guantaanmo we marched why? the world agrees No More Torture Not in Guantanomo Not in Iraq Not in our name! Tommorrow we fast and wait for one more door to open You can help open that door Call whom ever you can and put pressure on the Gov to let us in
Thank you Danny Burns
PS: Every day it seemed we had gone as far as they could let us and we would ask from our hearts if we could go just a little farther and they would come back and give us every thing we had hoped for on this the Cuban side All that is left is for the US government to let the Cubans know to let us pass this final gate in to no man´s land 5 miles from where we are vigiling and fasting that separates the base and is mined on both sides of the road leading in. Jesus was a tortured. Now his body is being tortured again 5 miles from where we wait and fast in prayer for justice. Let us in! please we beg you! we beceech you! we command you! Our hearts are breaking all over the world End torture! Close the illegal prison at Guantanomo.
THE HERETIK PRINTS this e mail from Danny Burns as it came to me today, typos and all. Some people see things as they are and ask why . . . Some people think nothing is possible. Some people see things as they are and see the impossible. Nothing can be done. Some see nothing can be done and still bear witness. A barbwire cruelty now cuts this nation. A few consciences bleed. Some see blood where others see only power. The impossible is a reality only for those who accept it.
THEIR BLOOD IS LOST Their blood is our blood, a nation’s blood splashed in arid agonized air. Their blood is their own, the blood native and not, caked on dry ground. Their blood pools beneath the wreckage of a humvee, their blood pools in the conscience. Their blood is their own. Their blood flows in us and a nation bleeds out. THEIR BLOOD SPLASHES IN SILENCE Their blood splashes across television screens and newspaper headlines, the red on what is read, the black and white on the color screen. Their blood pools in the conscience. Their blood is in us, in us is the blood of lost soldiers and civilians.
SOME PROTESTED BEFORE BLOOD WAS SPILLED IN WAR They may have their punishment in jail. They will have their release in the flight of free conscience.
Blood cuts through the levels beyond intellect. It brings things down to gut level, which is very helpful as we consider where we're going in the conversation of the war, and the killing of innocents. If you don't go to that place, then you haven't had a full and honest conversation about it. And we do that for ourselves, first and foremost.[link]
THE BLOOD OF CONSCIENCE pulses strong in hope less blood be lost. Some must be first and leave glory for later heroes.
SAINT PATRICK'S FOUR NOT GUILTY ON CONSPIRACY [story] Each of the four was found guilty on lesser charges. How the four are sentenced remains to be seen. War remains, protests will continue so long as justice has a last breath in one who will not lose hope.
WHAT WE HAVE HERE is best said by attorney Bill Quigley:speaking for Clare Grady:
This is a simple case of government overkill; this is a simple case of
the abuse of government power; this is a simple case of the government
trying to take a simple case of non-violent protest and make a "federal
case" out of it.
The government is calling these four people arrogant and unlawful and dangerous.
These four people could have stayed home and
watched shock and awe on tv. They could have said this is somebody
else's problem. They had jobs and kids and school and church -- just
like the rest of us -- but they were peacemakers. What does the bible
say? Blessed are the peacemakers. [link]
AMEN. Faith is challenged in a time of war. Faith in god and faith in man suffer the slings and arrows, faith suffers bomb blasts of the scientific sun, faith endures the napalm fires of hell. War is an evil on this earth, a necessary evil preached by the powerful. Some say no. War is inevitable, so warn the warriors. Some say no.
SOME SAY NO. Some say no to death in war and yes to the living. Who will listen? War comes in shouts of courage, but ends in the bleeding out of innocence. Some say yes, this killing must end. Amen.
THE FAULTLINE OF AMERICA THIS WEEK RUNS THROUGH BINGHAMTON , NEW YORK At the TRIAL of FOUR for peace, the large force of the state grinds against the immovable force of conscience. The spirit of ONE WOMAN has faced the WEIGHT of the state before. The spirit of HER FATHER is in her. Peace is RESTLESS until all have it.
ANTI WAR PROTEST ITSELF GOES ON TRIAL AGAIN TOMORROW So long as there have been unjust wars, the just have protested. In the case of the Saint Patrick's Day Four, luck and justice for protesters may just have run out. The outcome of the case of Peter DeMott, Danny Burns, and sisters Clare and Teresa O'Grady will rest on whether the judge in the case allows the trial to be one of conscience or one of the uncontested facts of vandalism. [story]
THE DEFENDANTS SPILLED THEIR OWN BLOOD in protest of the war in Iraq. Whether conscience will be allowed to spill into testimony remains in doubt. At issue in this age of John Roberts is whether justice is a matter of the letter of the law or whether strict adherence to "the law" itself is unjust.
RECOMMENDED READING [COMMON DREAMS/PETER ROTHBERG]For this act of
non-violence civil disobedience, the longtime Catholic peace
activists--sisters Clare and Teresa Grady, Daniel Burns, and Peter
DeMott--are now charged with conspiracy to impede "by force,
intimidation and threat" an officer of the United States along with
three lesser offenses. If convicted of federal conspiracy in a trial
starting this Monday, September 19, they face up to six years in
prison, a period of probation and $275,000 in fines."by force, intimidation and threat"
THE HERETIK SAYS the Federal government is trying to squelch any oppositon to its policies "by force, intimidation, and threat."
[T CHRIS/TALK LEFT] The key quesion in the second trial is whether the judge will give
the defendants the same latitude to explain their actions to the jury.
He should, despite the prosecution's likely argument that the law is
the law, and it doesn't matter why they chose to break it.
Juries act as the circuit-breaker between the desire of the
government to punish and the actual infliction of punishment. Juries
have the authority to nullify an abuse of that power. Juries play a
critical function in a democracy by bringing the will of the people
into the courtroom -- particularly in federal court, where judges
METAPHOR, ONE THING FOR ANOTHER: One thing can be less than it seems one moment, and far more than that the next. What a thing is may be what it is not. The poet lives to express the essence of each day, the mystery of the moment, the mere majesty of a dark midnight sun. Science defines by fact. A dark sun could shed no light and must be some black hole.
THE SCIENTIST WILL SEE THE GULF between two lands and command the engineer build a boat. The priest will see the gulf and ask a question of the poet. What boat the engineer builds for water will float toward the far and distant shore. The scientist may gloat, but the poet floats first on air. The priest only borrows the best and worst from the poet. So on the far shore in ways different but true all of them have made it there.
EVERY UNJUST WAR HAS ITS MOMENT OF PROTEST, when the children in rebellion say no more. When the parents say no more, you may be talking revolution. When blood is spilled in protest of blood spilled in war, metaphor and soul run together. The heart hears what an act of the pure soul says in silence. A flag and blood. No two symbols speak more to a nation.
WHEN THE FLAG AND THE BLOOD OF A NATION ARE JOINED IN DEATH, the living mourn for the lost. When soul spills heart blood on the flag, a nation must ask why and listen to that answer. Open minds must be open to question what some souls do and why.
[CHANNNEL 34] A Vietnam vet, two sisters and former Mayor John Burns' son are headed to Binghamton's Federal Court. They
poured their own blood onto an army recruitment center near Ithaca to
protest the war in Iraq. It happened on St. Patrick's Day 2003 and so
they've become the St. Pat's Day Four. After a hung jury in a Tompkins
County trial, the foursome will now be facing federal charges for their
act.. . . Peter DeMott says: "We hope to put the war on trial." . . . All four defendants came to the military recruitment center, with their own blood in hand, motivated by their belief that the war in Iraq was wrong. The District Attorney of Tompkins County says that those beliefs were allowed in the previous trial, but he hopes they won't be discussed in federal court. District Attorney George Dentes says, "I called the US Attorney and said 'Would you be willing to take this prosecution?' because I know in federal court things will be more down to earth."
SOME WILL SUMMON SOUND AND FURY and shout down what answers these souls offer in open court in Binghamton, New York in September. But the whisper of conscience ever is heard in the heart.
PREVIOUS HERETIK POST ON THE SAINT PATRICK’S DAY FOUR [SPILLED BLOOD]
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING [BILL QUIGLEY/COMMON DREAMS]
Last year the peace activists convinced nine members of a state court
jury that their actions were consistent with international law. Daniel
Burns, 43, Clare Grady, 45, Teresa Grady 38, and Peter DeMott, 57, all
members of the Magnificat Catholic Worker community in Ithaca, admitted
to the jury from the very beginning that they poured blood in the
recruiting center in order to try to stop the war in Iraq. They
testified they risked arrest in order to protect our sons and daughters
in the military and to protect our sisters and brothers in Iraq. The
four argued that their actions were legal because the invasion of Iraq
was illegal under international law. Because the United Nations had not
approved the invasion of Iraq, the invasion was a series of serious
illegal acts that constitute war crimes. And, under the Nuremberg
Principles of international law, individuals have international rights
and duties to prevent crimes against humanity which transcend the
national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state. They
further argued that if their actions were indeed illegal, they were
authorized under the defense of necessity because the harm they caused
was far smaller than the harm they were trying to prevent.
THE HERETIK NOTES ONE REASON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS INVOLVED has nothing to do with a Federal Court being "down to earth." What the Bush Administration seeks to avoid is any connection of its acts to judgement by international law. The Trial of the Saint Patrick's Four is but an opening skirmish in the battle of the Revolution of Return, where universal law and principles are universally respected.
SPILLED BLOOD, COLD BLOOD What Blood Has Been on Us, Let It Not Be on Our Children. Echoes Viet Nam and hubris bounce through the corridors of power. Now echoes of protests past echo through the courthouses. The State of New York was not able to convict some parents for a civil disobedience protest of the coming Iraqi invasion. Now the Federal Government wants to bounce these same parents into jail.
On March 17, 2003, in protest of the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq, Danny Burns, Peter DeMott, and sisters Clare and Teresa Grady poured small bottles of their own blood on the walls, floor and an American Flag in the foyer of a military recruiting center in Lansing, N.Y.
Charged with criminal mischief, the activists, who have been dubbed the St. Patrick’s Four, spent four days in jail and in April 2004 were tried at the Tompkins County Courthouse. During their weeklong trial, the defendants, all of whom have children, said they carried out their protest as Catholics and parents who wanted to warn members of the military and potential recruits about the illegality and immorality of the war in Iraq. …………. NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER
Spilled blood upon an American flag is a powerful, divisive form of political speech. The risks are great that such civil disobedience will not be viewed kindly by the government, nor by a jury of one’s peers. A state jury would not convict.
The jury voted 9 to 3 in favor of acquittal, leading some to conclude the case of the St. Patrick’s Four was closed. But in February, a federal grand jury charged the four activists, all of whom were arrested during a previous demonstration at the Lansing recruiting station, with two counts of criminal trespass, destruction of government property and conspiring to induce “by force, intimidation and threat, officers of the United States to leave the place where their duties as officers of the United States are required to be performed.”
Last month, Thomas J. McAvoy, senior U.S. district judge for northern New York, rejected the defendants’ motion for dismissal and set a trial for Sept. 19 in Binghamton, N.Y. In his May 8 decision, McAvoy also ruled the defendants would not be allowed to cite international law as a justification for their actions at the recruiting station.
“This court offers no opinion on the war in Iraq as it is entirely irrelevant to this matter. Assuming an illegal war, it does not provide a justification for violating the criminal laws of the United States,” he wrote. …………. NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER
New York State Law. United States Law. International law. A higher law. The call of protest. The whisper of conscience. The longer we are in Iraq, the longer there are parents who have children, the more all these elements will loudly collide.
We ask for justice. We ask for justice for the people of Iraq and our troops. We ask for justice for world peace. We ask for justice to say no to pre-emptive illegal war. Danny Burns
We stand by our actions, believing that they are just,
moral, legal, and required as the great crimes of mass murder, grand
theft, and torture are perpetrated in our names. Clare O'Grady
COURAGE IS THE CHILD OF HOPE If we cannot agree on a god, hope remains we may find a spark of grace. With or without a god, the devil may seem to walk this earth. Whether evil takes the form of man in flesh or not, in each life a moment comes when one would give in to the worst, whether that worst is in the world without or some sad raging demon within. Evil ever asks the good to relent. Give in and take the easier path. That easier path has but one direction, down. Hope, however, is never lost. Hope waits to be found. And finds freedom in a light heart.
Courage knows no age. The child brave teaches her masters the victory of the flesh is temporary. The human spirit breaks all chains. The indomitable human spirit knows not the defeat of death, but lives on in the heart of one in the moment and in the heart of memory forever.
Ann Frank was born this day in 1929. Armies, intolerant and evil, shadowed her world but never her heart. Her life was lost in a camp where evil played its worst. Her words have found their way into sixtyseven languages. Ann Frank wrote a truth of words often forgotten, the one language of the heart: In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. If we can see ourselves in others eyes, we yet may share some light.
IMAGINING ROMERO I Imagine Myself as Another When I Cannot Find the Strength in Myself. I look for inspiration in simple lives for simple truths. Then complexity and conundrum, the doomed boats afloat on the Bay of Confusion, sink. And as the boats sink, I find my arms and legs indeed have strength and I again can swim toward the brighter shore.
God may be the light that brightens some people’s eyes. Why dark forces try to turn and twist that light toward a dark end I will never know, but forever try to fight, at least in some small way. How is it that a god that would unite us is made by men to divide us. This story of tragedy is written in the endless ink of blood. How is it that blood spilled for the Right Reasons always falls in the wrong place, on unholy grounds?
One could consider these things and fall beneath the waves in the Bay of Confusion, in sight of the shore, but drowning. If god exists, I sometimes think laughter must be his echo in this world. Not the cruel laughter of Kundera’s devils. No. A kinder laughter. Beyond cruel reality is a world more kind if we will see it. Imagination is the saving trick, to see what is not there, to see what might have been, and yet still might be.
So I imagine Romero. An archbishop of El Salvador, a knight without a horse or a sword, a knight who wore no armor, who knew his enemies knew where he was, but spoke with lancing words of decency demanded, who loved his people, who gave his all for some. Some say such martyrs are fools. The meaning of life is found in death. Death’s sentence has its punctuation. Period or question mark or exclamation point.
Death dark invades the land of life and light. Death’s forces take many forms. El Salvador in the Eighties knew many a demon. Some came in human form, inhuman in savagery. One man stood up against the darkness, a flicker of a flame in a seeming endless night. Oscar Romero was assassinated twenty five years ago. A single bullet blasted from a cowardly car as Romero said mass in a simple church. Martyrs may be fools. One man’s god may not be another’s. Some will not believe in a god at all when cruelty seems triumphant. If we cannot believe in god, perhaps it is enough to believe in saints. And if that is not what can be done, perhaps we see only darkness. Darkness though has its dawn with lights much like Romero.
I imagine Romero On the altar the sacrificial altar, Standing before the altar, His Abraham and his Isaac All in one, in one day his life.
I imagine Romero, First name of Oscar. Me llamo Oscar, Mi vida es tu vida. I imagine him, imagine me.
Imagine him, calling out In silence, a song of dignity, Wordless on the altar So he stands alone Romero, our Romero.
I imagine Romero So he stands, never fallen Priest and sacrifice both for all To see and touch undoubting In the house of life.
I imagine myself standing in the house of life Romero I call to death. You shall not come No power have you In this house of life.
I imagine myself Romero Mi vida es tu vida A simple man as death and a gun Approach ablaze for but A moment I am Romero
I am now Romero Cold, cool and fallen on The ground, my blood, his Blood, our body on the ground But he lives in his people
Death descends But cannot divide Romero who would die Who laughs at death Who echoes on in his people