Five Campaign Nonviolence Activists, Denied a Meeting with an Obama Administration Official, Are Arrested
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 25, 2014
Contact: Malachy Kilbride 301-283-7627
Joy First 608-239-4327
Max Obuszewski 727-543-3227
Washington, D.C. - On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, there was a 10 AM rally near the White House to protest war, poverty and environmental destruction. This demonstration was organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), as part of Campaign Nonviolence (campaignnonviolence.org), which announced over 225 demonstrations were to occur in every state in the country during the week of September 21-27. Campaign Nonviolence is a grassroots movement to mainstream active nonviolence using the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. that calls us to become people of nonviolence and to resolve personal and global conflicts nonviolently.
As this rally began, President Barack Obama was holding a press conference inside the White House to support, what is sure to be a disaster, air attacks on ISIS targets in Syria. For some unknown reason, the activists were not permitted to congregate on Pennsylvania Avenue. So the rally began in Lafayette Park, and the group used an amplification system. As the moderator, Malachy Kilbride, began his introduction, a U. S. Park Police officer informed the group that it could not use amplification in the park. However, soon thereafter, the police opened up Pennsylvania Avenue, and the program began near the Picture Postcard Zone near the White House fence.
Demonstrators with their backs to the White House gathered with signs and banners reflecting the issues of war, poverty and climate chaos. The first speaker was Diane D’Arrigo of the Nuclear Information Resource Service, and she made the nuclear power connection and pointed out there is a “nuclear attack” on democracy and energy conservation, as the nuclear industry is making a desperate push to INCREASE electricity demand in the U.S. As the movement for renewable energy points out, there is a great need instead to promote conservation and energy efficiency.
The anti-nuclear spokesperson was then followed by noted author-activist David Swanson. He detailed the madness of Obama’s ongoing warmongering. As Swanson has written, “We're not told by the big corporate media about the 95% of deaths in U.S. wars that are the deaths of non-Americans.” Swanson wants us to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org. His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.
Making some of the same points as Swanson, CodePink’s Medea Benjamin pointed out last year we stopped the U.S. from attacking the Assad regime in Syria. And now the Obama administration is bombing a group which opposes Assad. The renowned peace activist was very clear in her thinking: “This is exactly what ISIL wants. They're trying to get the U.S. involved in a war. There are already U.S. troops in combat and this will mean more. We shouldn't fall into the trap of another immoral and unwinnable war."
To close the program, John Dear, one of the leading activists in this country and a member of Campaign Nonviolence, delighted the assembled, which included many people including tourists and Washingtonians passing through, when he announced similar activities were happening in all fifty states. He highlighted the activities in Juneau, Alaska, Mississippi and Montana. Campaign Nonviolence continues to spread its message that a new approach is possible and necessary.
Moving from words to actions, the citizen-activists marched about fifty feet to the guard station at one entrance to the White House. Taking the lead were David Barrows, Washington, D.C., Dear, New Mexico, JoAnne Lingle, Indianapolis, IN, Alice Sutter, New York City, and Lorna VanderZanden, Fairfax, VA. They had a short conversation with a guard, who refused to accept a letter to President Obama, calling on him to make drastic policy changes towards ending war, poverty, and the climate crisis. NCNR mailed a letter to the president (http://warisacrime.org/content/want-do-more-march-climate-heres-how) laying out its concerns and asking to meet with a high level representative to discuss them. They received no response, so the citizen-activists went to the guard station with letter in hand. After being rebuffed, four of them in white shrouds did a die-in in front of the gate. Dear knelt instead. Max Obuszewski, an NCNR organizer, participated in the die-in on Pennsylvania Avenue. During the die-in, Kilbride used amplification to read the letter. Eventually, those at the guard station were warned by a member of the U.S. Park Police to leave or be arrested.
Because of the urgency of the matter of issues raised in the letter, five people were arrested and charged with incommoding--Barrows, Dear, Lingle, Sutter, and VanderZanden. They were taken by the Park Police to Haines Point, and released about an hour later after each paid $50 for a citation release. They are all active on these issues and others, and thought it best to pay a fine so that they can then continue their work as citizen activists.
Under the banner of Campaign Nonviolence, thousands of citizens across the country are taking a public stand against all violence and organizing a new movement for a culture of peace and nonviolence free from war, poverty and the climate crisis. During Campaign Nonviolence Week, people from all walks of life will take to the streets from Hawaii to Maine to protest ongoing U.S. warfare, extreme poverty, the devastation of the environment, and many other forms of violence, from the unjust detention of immigrants to police brutality to the continuing threat of nuclear weapons.
Through Campaign Nonviolence, historically separate movements are joining forces to tackle these many forms of violence and to build a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. And all participants at the White House rally on September 23 will build on the enormous turn-out and energy generated in New York City on September 21 and 22.
Lingle offered this perspective: “We are here to say NO to Endless War and YES to a living wage - NO to War Profiteers who take our tax dollars and leave us overworked and underpaid. We are tired of our voices not being heard!”
FOR INFORMATION ON THE NATIONAL CAMPAIGN, CONTACT RYAN HALL AT firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-268-8765. WEBSITE: www.campaignnonviolence.org.
For more information about the September 23 event at White House, call the contacts listed above. The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance will continue to organize on these most pressing matters.