Thursday, July 13, 2017

On Henry David Thoreau’s Birthday, Six Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance Arrested on U.S. Capitol Steps for Pleading for An End to War Funding

On Henry David Thoreau’s Birthday, Six Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance Arrested on U.S. Capitol Steps for Pleading for An End to War Funding


Contacts: Max Obuszewski 727-543-3227 or mobuszewski2001 at
; Joy First 608 239-4327 or joyfirst5 at; or Malachy Kilbride 301-283-7627 or malachykilbride at

WHO:  Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] have long been protesting U.S. war-making, including killer drone strikes, income inequality and climate chaos.  The group wrote a petition and gathered signatures, which they delivered to four members of the leadership in Congress. A copy of the petition is available upon request.
Janice Sevre-Duszynska and Max Obuszewski drove from Baltimore to the Greenbelt Metro Station.  There they boarded a Metro train wearing bloody tee shirts as part of the Rivers of Blood II action.  On the train three people heading to D.C. for a business meeting asked about the shirts.  The activists informed this business group about the purpose of going to Washington.  Obuszewski asked if they knew how many wars the U.S. was engaged in today.  
   One of them thought two, and another said three.  They were informed that there are at least seven ongoing wars.  Obuszewski then asked about the military budget.  A gentleman said he heard on NPR that 19% of the federal discretionary budget goes to the military.  He was informed that it is over 50%. As the activists were leaving the train, one of the business people asked if the group would be able to get into the Congressional offices?   

WHAT: On July 11, NCNR member Joy First received an email from Andrew asking for information:  “I am wishing for more information on the call for action at the Capitol tomorrow.  I have been arrested previously for non violent demonstrations and want to seek more justice.  What time are we expected to demonstrate and what specific location.  Thank you.”  First was suspicious as to who Andrew might be.

  On July 12, on an oppressively hot Washington, D.C. day, six members of NCNR and several supporters visited both the Senate and House Office Buildings.  These citizen activists first went to the Russell Office Building to Room 317 to deliver a petition to Sen. Mitch McConnell.  A staffer graciously accepted the petition, and indicated that it would be delivered to someone in the office who works on military spending.  The petitioners were given her contact information.

A trek was then made to the Hart Senate Office Building to deliver the petition to Sen. Chuck Schumer in Room 322. Upon request, Faiq S. Raza, a Legislative Correspondent, met with the citizen activists.  He graciously heard from each one.  The pleas covered the issue of war funding, drone strikes, the authorization for military force, poverty and other concerns.  He provided information about the senator’s positions on some of these issues.  For example, Schumer is concerned about presidents taking power away from Congress and the use of killer drone strikes without any rules of engagement. Raza indicated that constituent pressure can have an effect on Sen. Schumer.

 From there, the petitioners went to the Cannon House Office Building to Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office, Room 235.  A staff person accepted the petition, but indicated that the legislative aides were in a meeting.  He did provide contact information about the aide who handles military spending.  The final visit was to the Longworth House Office Building to go to Rep. Paul Ryan’s office, Room 1233. A visitor was able to walk into the three other offices.  However, on Ryan’s door, which was locked, there was a sign posted “Only people with a scheduled meeting were allowed to enter.”  The group knocked on the very unpopular representative’s door, but there was no answer.  A petition was then slipped under the door with a flyer condemning U.S. military operations.  This flyer was handed out as the group walked around Capitol Hill.

   After the petition delivery, the activists wearing bloody tee shirts went to the Capitol steps, across from the Supreme Court, with a banner “Stop the War Machine: Export Peace.”  They then began to read, on the anniversary of Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday, the petition. Surrounded by Capitol Police officers, the reading started, though an officer kept interrupting the reading so he could give a warning that the group was facing arrest.  After the fourth warning, Obuszewski was the first taken off the steps, followed by Alice Sutter, a retired nurse from New York City, then Phil Runkel, an archivist from Wisconsin of Dorothy Day’s papers, then First, also from Wisconsin, followed by Malachy Kilbride, a Quaker from Prince George’s County, Maryland.  While the group was held in custody, Sevre-Duszynska, a Roman Catholic women priest, remained on the Capitol steps.  She insisted to the police that she was going to finish reading the petition, and the police did not interfere.

   When she was brought into the shade with the other arrestees, it became obvious that the Capitol Police would use the gold standard of arrest procedures.  First, the activists were not handcuffed, were given cold water and were allowed to keep all possessions without  being frisked.  There was no fingerprinting, but a photograph of each activist was taken. Then tables and chairs were brought out of a police van, and the officers gathered personal information before giving the defendants a release document. The citizen activists were to report on July 13 to U.S. Capitol Police Headquarters, 119 D Street NE, to request a court date.
WHEN and WHERE: The arrests occurred on July 12, 2017 at 2:18 PM on the U.S. Capitol steps

Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] petitioned the Congressional leadership on behalf of the voiceless, the poor, the middle class, the immigrants and people whose pleas are ignored.  It was important, as well, to read the petition as part of the Rivers of Blood II, on the Capitol steps.  Congress consistently  allocates tax dollars which go toward death and destruction in many parts of the world, most especially the Middle East.  And this was done on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech at the Riverside Church in Manhattan, entitled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.
  As the activists were on the steps, they unfurled a red sash on the steps to symbolize the rivers of blood flowing out of the capitol.  The banner and sash were confiscated by the police. It was discovered that the commander on site during the arrest was the mysterious Andrew who sent First an email claiming he had been arrested before.  The activists will subpoena “Andrew” to appear in court during the trial. If Congress refuses to heed the words of the activists, there will be more war, more inequality and ecocide.  Congressional support for warmongering will be a centerpiece of the defendants’ arguments during the trial.

  “One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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