Thursday, September 27, 2018

Charges Dismissed for Roman Catholic Womanpriest and Others Who Sat In Rep. Steny Hoyer’s Office to Demand He Speak Out Against U.S. Involvement in Yemen

Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218

Charges Dismissed for Roman Catholic Womanpriest and Others Who Sat In Rep. Steny Hoyer’s Office to Demand He Speak Out Against U.S. Involvement in Yemen  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2018

Max Obuszewski 727-256-5789 or mobuszewski2001 at or Janice Sevre-Duszynska at 859-684-4247

WHO:  Members of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility and other groups began a campaign to lobby Maryland legislators about military spending, nuclear weapons and U.S. involvement in the disastrous assault on the people of Yemen. As part of this project, lobby visits were organized with the staff of Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Representatives John Sarbanes, Elijah Cummings and Dutch Ruppersberger.  However, when Max Obuszewski tried to get an appointment with Rep. Steny Hoyer’s aide, he was rebuffed.

  The failure to obtain contact information from Hoyer’s office was brought to the attention of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It was decided then to organize a visit on January 11, 2018 to Rep. Hoyer’s office in the Longworth House Office Building. Approximately 20 citizen activists visited the office that day.
WHAT: On that day, unfortunately, when a request was made to obtain contact information for the foreign policy staff person, a Hoyer staffer would not provide any information.  Many of the citizen activists then stayed in the office from 3:30 to about 7 PM waiting for an answer from Hoyer’s staff.  Around 6 PM, Paul [no last name] gave Obuszewski a piece of paper with the phone number and email address of Daniel Silverberg, Hoyer’s foreign policy aide.  However, the sit-in continued as there was no assurance that an actual meeting would take place. It was just a piece of paper, and not a confirmation that Silverberg would meet with the group. Seven of the activists, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Richard Ochs and Malachy Kilbride, Baltimore, Joy First and Phil Runkel, Wisconsin, Alice Sutter, New York City, and Kathy Kelly, Chicago, were arrested and charged with “Unlawful Entry.” Kelly and Ochs would later plead guilty.

   The group hoped to appeal to Rep. Steny Hoyer, as Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, that he must speak out against Saudi Arabian war crimes, must condemn any further arms sales to the Desert Kingdom and help bring to a vote House Concurrent Resolution 81 []. This resolution’s title is "Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to remove United States Armed Forces from unauthorized hostilities in the Republic of Yemen." 

  The five defendants then began to prepare for a jury trial in Superior Court of the District of Columbia on October 2.  They were prepared to indicate that Hoyer, the Minority Whip, was unresponsive to constituents with regards to having staff meet with them.  Also the defendants were very concerned about Hoyer’s role in supporting the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia and its assault on the people of Yemen.  Of course, the attack on Yemen has created a humanitarian disaster, which includes the death of civilians, destruction of the infrastructure, a cholera epidemic and famine. However, Mark Goldstone, and attorney advisor to the Yemen Five, received information that the government decided to dismiss the charges against the five defendants.

WHEN and WHERE: September 26, 2018/Superior Court of D.C., 500 Indiana Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

WHY:  The defendants can only speculate as to why the government dismissed the charges.  Did Rep. Hoyer decide that this case should not proceed?  An answer will probably be never known.
In January and in August, concerned citizens including Sevre-Duszynska, an ordained Roman Catholic womanpriest and a member of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, attended two meetings with Daniel Silverberg, the first in January and the second in August.  Silverberg, at the first meeting, admitted that he agreed to meet because people were arrested in Hoyer’s office.  In the second meeting, he indicated that Rep. Hoyer was quite concerned with the situation in Yemen and was working behind the scenes to mitigate the situation there.  He indicated the only real solution was to end the hostilities in Yemen.
The government decided to dismiss the charges on September 26. According to a Common Dreams article which appeared on September 26, “'Glimmer of Hope' for Yemen as Khanna Invokes War Powers Act to End US Support for Saudi-Led Slaughter of Civilians,” there was this information: “Breaking! @RepRoKhanna has just introduced legislation invoking the War Powers Act and directing the Trump administration to pull US troops from the civil war in #Yemen. It is time for our unconscionable participation in this war to end. … 1:06 PM - Sep 26, 2018.”  It follows that “The resolution (pdf) ‘directs the president to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen, except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations authorized under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force...not later than 30 days after the date of the adoption of this concurrent resolution unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces has been enacted into law."

  The article closed with a list--“The resolution's other co-sponsors—which include the ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee as well as the Rules Committee—are: Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).”  It was remarkable to see Rep. Hoyer’s name on the list. 

 One can speculate that the courage of those who sat-in the Minority Whip’s office combined with the zeal of those who attended the two meetings with Silverberg may have played a role in convincing Hoyer to do the right thing about U.S. forces  aiding Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate in the destruction of Yemen. Those citizen activists felt they had a responsibility as U.S. citizens to speak out against our government’s involvement in this vicious war against the people of Yemen.  On January 11, the delegation demanded that Rep. Hoyer, in good conscience, speak out about U.S. support for the destruction of Yemen.  And remarkably, they may have succeeded. 


"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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