Video of the April 8, 2011 attempt to visit The Pentagon by 25 citizen activists:
Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/user/chatareena#p/u/0/Qjvi5ItQwRE
Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIXUM8wMkXU
This past Friday, April 8, 2011 about 25 citizen activists went to The Pentagon attempting to meet with Secretary Robert Gates regarding their concerns about the continuing wars and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the drone bombings and killings in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the devastation to our planet by The Pentagon’s overwhelming use of fossil fuels, the use of depleted uranium destroying life in places like Iraq, the torture and abusive treatment in places like Guantanamo and Bagram, the indefinite detention and rendition into torture, the continued operation of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Cooperation where Latin American soldiers graduate to be torturers and human rights violators , and so many other concerns for peace and justice.
(Our letter is below.)
As we made our way from the Metro subway system to the plaza area in front of The Pentagon we were met by heavily armed police. We were informed that we had to leave the area because we were protesting. We told the officer in charge that we were there seeking a meeting with Secretary Gates. This officer immediately began to give us warnings to leave. No sooner had the second and almost third warning been given when suddenly the police rushed us and began pushing and shoving us away.
Twenty five of us were arrested. We were held for a couple of hours.
(For more information on this read the press release below)
Questions are now being raised regarding this treatment by the police. Why were peaceful people treated this way by the police? Who gave the order to use excessive force on nonviolent citizens? Why did the police follow these orders if it was apparent that the citizens were not a threat to anyone? What has become of our First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and redress our grievances against our government?
The citizens were composed of people ranging in age from their early 20’s to early 80’s. Some were veterans, retired teachers, Catholic nuns, Catholic Workers, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, students, people who work for peace and the betterment of our world through the helping professions.
We were not the first people to be treated this way by representatives of our government. This has happened countless times before. Even recently we have seen how expressing dissent to our Secretary of State can be met with force and violence, while she praises those in North Africa speaking out for democracy and human rights,
( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My29YT1T4R4 ) and how peace and solidarity activists have been raided by the FBI in America’s Midwest. ( http://www.stopfbi.net/events/mankato-area-activist-col...ssion )
What is happening is the chilling of and the suppressing of dissent in this country. As we attempt to work for peace the means we use is being curtailed and suppressed. In an email exchange the other day in regard to Friday’s Pentagon experience one person remarked that this didn’t even happen under the Bush-Cheney regime. Things are getting worse.
Please forward the videos of the police brutality to your circle of friends. Write to Secretary Gates about this incident. We will be following up with a formal complaint and we hope you will join us in making sure something like this does not happen again.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 8, 2011
Contact: Joy First 608 239-4327 joyfirst5 AT gmail.com
PENTAGON POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST PEACEFUL PROTESTERS CALLING FOR END TO WAR AND HALT TO DESTRUCTION OF THE ENVIORNMENT
PENTAGON, WASHINGTON, DC – On April 8, 2011 at approximately noon, 25 civilian activists organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance arrived at the Pentagon to deliver a letter asking for a meeting with Secretary of War Robert Gates in order to discuss bringing an end to U.S. wars and the destruction of the environment resulting from military policies.
Within less than three minutes, with the activists peacefully requesting that the Secretary’s office receive their letter, Pentagon police officers swarmed the scene, violently moving the activists from the area. They were violently pushed and shoved, the activists said. Several activists reported that the police almost knocked them over. A number of individuals had their arms forcefully and painfully wrenched behind their backs. Eve Tetaz, 80, was pushed to the ground. As the officers pushed the citizens towards the police vans, they did not ever announce to any individuals that they were being arrested.
The protesters were taken to the Navy Annex for processing where they were given a warning for failure to obey a lawful order. Once the Pentagon Police had the names of all the activists, they searched their system and found that eight of the 25 had been arrested at the Pentagon in the past. Those eight individuals were then given a citation for “disorderly conduct”.
The eight activists, David Barrows, Joy First, Alice Gerard, Malachy Kilbride, Max Obuszewski, Ned Smith, Eve Tetaz, and Paki Weiland will take their case to the courts on June 3, 2011. This action by the Pentagon Police was a blatant violation of their First Amendment rights. The activists were there within their legal rights, fulfilling their Nuremberg obligations, standing in a public access area. There was no disorderly conduct on the part of the activists. Rather, the police acted in a violent and unlawful manner towards the activists.
The citizen activists were attempting to bring to the attention of the Pentagon information on how the U.S. military uses more petroleum than any other single entity in the world, and it is responsible for releasing immeasurable amounts of lethal toxic chemicals into the air, soil and water in the course of maintaining military bases in the U.S. and around the world.
he Pentagon engages in rampant death and destruction in such countries as Afghanistan , Iraq , Pakistan and Yemen and other parts of the world. Besides the toxic chemicals, the military uses depleted uranium ammunition, with disastrous, long-term harmful health effects on all who inhale it and their offspring in the form of genetic defects. Most recently this illegal weapon is suspected to have been used in Libya . Thus, the activists were seeking a meeting with the Secretary of Defense to discuss both the excessive warmongering and the ecocide being committed against Mother Earth by the Pentagon.
This action was endorsed by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Climate SOS, Code Pink, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Jonah House, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), Nukewatch, Peace Action, SOA Watch, Soulforce, United National Anti-war Committee, Veterans for Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, War Is A Crime.org, War Resisters League, Washington Peace Center, Witness Against Torture, and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
For more information, contact the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
joyfirst5 AT gmail.com
National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, 325 East 25th Street , Baltimore , MD 21218
March 16, 2011
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Washington, DC 20001
Dear Secretary Gates :
I am writing as a representative of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance. We are a group of citizens dedicated to working for an end to the illegal wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the illegal bombing, since July of 2008, of Pakistan. It is our opinion that the use of drones is a violation of international law.
These actions are causing incredible human suffering, growing distrust of the United States around the world, and are diverting our resources which could be better used to ease human suffering. We follow the principles of Gandhi, King, Day and others, working nonviolently for a peaceful world.
As people of conscience, we are very concerned about the devastation that military expenditures are causing to our environment. According to Joseph Nevins, in an article published on June 14, 2010 by CommonDreams.org, GREENWASHING THE PENTAGON, “The U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate.” And the article claims “. . . the Pentagon devours about 330,000 barrels of oil per day (a barrel has 42 gallons), more than the vast majority of the world’s countries.” Go to http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/06/14-
The amount of oil used by your military machine is beyond belief, and each military vehicle also releases pollutants through the exhaust. Tanks, trucks, Humvees and other vehicles are not known for their fuel economy. Other fuel guzzlers are submarines, helicopters and fighter jets. Each military flight, whether involved in the transport of soldiers or in a combat mission, contributes more carbon into the atmosphere. Can add this to the letter: “As people of conscience, we are very concerned about the devastation that military expenditures are causing to our environment.” However, it is not the expenditures but the warmongering which is the problem relating to the environment. Nevertheless, I will add military expenditures.
The U.S. military’s environmental record is dismal. Any war can bring about ecocide in the area of fighting. One example was the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki . Vietnam is still dealing with effects of the use of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange. More recently, Mother Earth is suffering because the Pentagon continues to use depleted uranium ammunition. It seems the Pentagon first used DU weaponry during the Persian Gulf War 1.
Because the United States has hundreds of military bases here and abroad, the Pentagon is exacerbating a growing environmental crisis on a global scale. Of course, this crisis is not limited to U.S. military activities, but the Department of War must be the focus if we are to seriously address the planet’s ongoing climate chaos.
We would like to meet with you to discuss bringing all troops home from these awful wars and occupations and the Pentagon’s role in the destruction of the environment. At this meeting, we would appreciate if you could provide a detailed breakdown of the military’s greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide. As citizen activists and members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, we adhere to the Nuremberg protocols. These principles, established during the trials of Nazi war criminals, call on people of conscience to challenge their government when it is engaged in criminal activity. As part of our Nuremberg responsibility, we are reminding you that you swore to uphold the Constitution. “In a dialogue, we will present data to demonstrate an abuse of the Constitution and the ecosystem.”
Please get back to me, so that a meeting can be scheduled as soon as possible. The current situation is urgent. Cities and states are starving, while tax dollars are wasted on wars and occupations. Innocents are dying because of U.S. military policies. And the environmental damage caused by the Pentagon must be halted.
Most observers have noticed that weather patterns are changing. Last summer wildfires blackened the skies over much of Russia . In Pakistan the rains caused millions of people to flee from their homes. And the weather has greatly affected the farmers of the world, resulting in food shortages in many countries. The nature writer Bill McKibben has a new book called EAARTH, and he makes the point the old planet no longer exists. Today, people are risking their lives for freedom from tyrants. We gain solace from their actions and recognize that we must save Mother Earth so people can indeed enjoy the fruits of democracy.
We look forward to your response, as we believe citizen activists have the right and obligation to be involved in matters of such great importance. Your response will be shared with others concerned with the issues raised above. Thank you for considering our request.
Max Obuszewski, on behalf of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance