This year’s retreat was held in Menlo Park, in Northern California, from Friday, February 27, through Monday, March 2, with a nonviolent direct action on Monday at Lockheed Martin, in Sunnyvale, protesting nuclear weapons work and other weapons for war. After sharing poetry, litany, dancing, songs, and prayer, 12 people were arrested for blocking traffic. They carried a letter with them that read:
To All of Us Who Pay Taxes or Work at Lockheed Martin,
Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest weapons producer. The nuclear missiles that Lockheed Martin designs and builds are a threat to all life on earth. We ask you to evaluate the morality of profit from world-wide death and suffering.
This is the time to transform Lockheed Martin’s reliance on weapons production into new technologies that help the earth and benefit the common good.
Those arrested included: Peggy Coleman, Betsy Lamb, Ann Havill, Fr. Jerry Zawada, OFM, John Yevtich, Katie Kelso, Susan Crane, Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ, Larry Purcell, Elizabeth Murray, Ed Ehmke and Mary Jane Parrine. Four of the protesters were released that afternoon by signing out, as was one later that evening. The seven who refused to sign papers for their release were held in jail until they were seen by a judge. They were released, all charges dropped, on Wednesday night, March 4. The individuals who signed out will have a future court date.
The keynote speaker was Dalit Baum, Ph.D., originally from Tel Aviv, and co-founder of Who Profits from the Occupation, and of the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel. Dalit is a feminist scholar and teacher. She has been active with various groups in the Israeli anti-occupation and democracy movement. She has worked for American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in the San Francisco office since 2013 and currently serves the organization as Director of Economic Activism. She spoke on the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, and the destruction and slow genocide of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This year’s retreat had 80 people in attendance from various western states.
During the retreat, on February 28, news came of the passing of longtime Tacoma Catholic Worker, peace activist, and PLC member, Jesuit Fr. William “Bix” Bichsel, 86, who now resides with the Heavenly Cloud of Witnesses. He was loved by many and will be deeply missed. The retreat and direct action were dedicated to him, with many wearing a photo of Bix in remembrance. Bix was a member of the Disarm Now Plowshares and recently traveled to Jeju Island to protest the U.S.-sponsored naval base being built there. Fr. Bix—PRESENTE!