Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Friday, October 28, 2011

TURNING DECAY TO NEW LIFE

At the White House fence on March 19Align Center
The judge went easy on us when he sentenced our group of 18 anti-war protesters to a $150 fine with no community service this morning inside the Washington DC courtroom. It was clear during the many statements made to the judge during the sentencing that he was indeed impacted by the testimony of the group during the trial.

He kept the trial strictly along traditional lines by denying our right to call witnesses who could testify to U.S. war crimes that violated international law. But during the trial he did allow people to slip these important topics into their remarks during opening and closing statements.

I had my chance to make a statement at the time I was sentenced by the judge. I said the following:

I grew up in a military family and was a Young Republican for Nixon in 1968, as Vice-President of the Okaloosa County Florida Young Republican Club. When I was a kid I wanted to be an FBI agent because I wanted to fight against organized crime.

In 1971 I tried to join the Air Force because I hoped to be a career man like my dad. But I flunked my induction physical and had to get a waiver to get into the military when most people were trying to get waivers to stay out. It was during this time, while in the Air Force, that I became a peace activist.

Reading the Pentagon Papers, which were published during this period, finished off any remaining illusions I had about American exceptionalism or democracy. I learned how our government lied in order to justify the war in Vietnam and this process has been repeated over and over again to justify endless wars.

I went to the White House on March 19 to fight against and expose the organized criminal syndicate that controls our country – what we call the military industrial complex.

(My use of the word “fight” during this statement was intentional, as the word became a major issue during the trial. The prosecution maintained that the use of the word while chanting, “They say get back, we say fight back” just before our arrest at the White House indicated that we were essentially a rowdy mob.)

I believe that our interference with pedestrian traffic outside the White House was a small matter when we see how these wars kill legions of innocent people and have bankrupted our nation and destroyed social progress. Just in the short time I witnessed you dealing with other criminal cases here in your courtroom it is clear that your job will become harder as more people will be forced into criminal behavior because of the economic collapse.

The real harm has also been to the thousands of GI’s who today suffer from physical and emotional problems due to their participation in these wars. There has been an epidemic of suicides among these troops – some are even killing themselves before they are sent to Iraq or Afghanistan just because they feared what would happen to them as they witnessed their brothers and sisters come back messed up from war.

I live in an intentional community in Bath, Maine where I work full-time for peace and justice and try to prevent the arms race from moving into space.

I don’t believe I did anything wrong on March 19. The wrong people are being punished by the judicial system.

There was an older black woman sitting in the courtroom amongst our supporters during today’s sentencing process. She was waiting for her son to be sentenced – he had been brought into the courtroom in orange jail garb with chains connected to his feet and hands before our case was called. During our sentencing statements I saw her paying close attention and at times crying so after we were finished, right before the judge began to pass judgment on her son, I went up to her and wished her good luck. She looked deeply into my eyes and said, “I am so proud of you people.”

It is not only the people in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Libya-Yemen-Somalia who are being destroyed at the hands of U.S. militarism. The poor in our own country are left without jobs and then have to turn to selling drugs or their own bodies on the streets in order to make a buck so they can survive. They are then locked into the jails of the Prison Industrial Complex. The judge is just one more cog in this evil machine.

For several days this week we interrupted the judge’s mundane job of sending legions of poor people from the nation’s capital to these cells of desperation. For a short time we challenged him, his clerk, the U.S. Marshall, the court stenographer, the two Park Police who testified against us, and the two government prosecutors to think outside their normal boxes. But the most important heart we reached during this trial was the black mother who feels alone in our heartless society as she sees her beloved child suffer inside this demented and broken system.

After my good-byes to our group I immediately headed for Union Station and was lucky to just catch the noon train back to Boston. I expect to get home by midnight. I’d like to spend the weekend walking in the woods and working in the yard cleaning up the now depleted garden and raking the falling leaves. From these leaves we will make compost in our annual ritual of turning decay and death to new life – in the form of a robust and enriched soil to grow our food in the next year.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Lone Vet said...

Thank you for your stand against the horrors of wars and the destruction of our values. We fight in Portland, Oregon to stop these insanities, many of us have been arrested for taking action against our representatives for not opposing the last administration and this administration's madness. I have lost hope so many times but the world is beginning to stand with us and that will keep me going until we have peace in the world. The judge who sentenced you will someday look in the mirror and realize the wrong people stood before him to be sentenced. Your sacrifice will bring justice and peace a little faster and that is something to be proud of in these days of madness. Thank you again.

Joe Walsh-US Navy 1962-71
http://individualsforjustice.com

10/29/11, 11:01 PM  

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