Longtime anti-nuclear activist, peacemaker, poet, author, and friend and mentor to the Catholic Worker Movement, among many others, and certainly one of the the most prophetic and profound voices in the Catholic Church and Catholic Peace Movement, Fr. Dan Berrigan, SJ, joined his equally as prophetic brother Phil, in the heavenly cloud of witnesses on Saturday, April 30, at age 94. See stories at this LINK, this LINK, this LINK, and this LINK. Watch a video about Dan & Phil by authors Murray Polner & Jim O’Grady HERE. DAN BERRIGAN: PRESENTE!
Dennis Apel from the Guadalupe CW, Jeff Dietrich and David Omondi from the LACW were again in federal court on Thursday, April 21. Dennis and Jeff had to appear for a “status hearing” regarding their probation sentence back on March 17, which both refused to cooperate with and would not comply with the court order for reasons of conscience. After questioning each defendant on why they did not comply, and if they realized the seriousness of their action, the court issued a sentence of 120 days (four months) to each. The judge accepted the Probation Department’s recommendation for Jeff’s sentence, however, for Dennis the court rejected both the Probation Department’s recommendation of 30 days and the government’s recommendation of 60 days, instead issued the same 120 days administered to Jeff.
David Omondi was present for sentencing for the August 8, 2015 witness. The court at first issued six month supervised probation with 200 hours community service plus a $100 fine and $35 in court costs. However, after David explained to Magistrate Judge Louise LaMonthe that he prefer not having probation since he wants to return to Kenya as soon as possible and would likely not abide by probation regulations, the judge reconsidered and changed the sentence to 60 days incarceration in federal prison.
All three are required to self-surrender at the downtown Los Angeles Roybal Federal Building: Jeff on Monday, May 2, David on Tuesday, May 3, and Dennis on Monday May 9. It is not yet known where each will serve their sentence. Stay tuned.
This LINK is to a straightforward, thought-provoking, and alarming article on U.S. imperial madness. It is a MUST read.
An excerpt: “How many people are aware that a world war has begun? At present, it is a war of propaganda, of lies and distraction, but this can change instantaneously with the first mistaken order, the first missile.
In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons”. People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was all fake. He was lying.
The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.”
On Thursday, March 17, Los Angeles Catholic Worker community member Jeff Dietrich (third from left) and Guadalupe Catholic Worker community member Dennis Apel (first on left) appeared in Santa Barbara Federal Court for sentencing regarding the August 8, 2015 nonviolent witness at Vandenberg AFB in protest against U.S. nuclear weapons policy.
Both Jeff and Dennis were sentenced to six months supervised probation and 200 hours of community service (NOT connected in any way with the Catholic Worker), along with $35 in court assessment fees. Both Jeff and Dennis stated they will not comply in any way with the sentence nor pay the court assessment fees.
Magistrate Judge Louise LaMonthe scheduled an April 21 “Progress Hearing” to determine what both defendants have accomplished. Again, as with Mike Wisniewski, Magistrate Judge Louise LaMonthe did not want to sentence jail time for either defendant. However, she only postponed what clearly will be inevitable in this situation since Jeff and Dennis have absolutely no intent to comply with any part of their probation sentence. Stay tuned. You can read Dennis Apel’s court statement HERE.
NOTE: During time allotted for the prosecution to make a statement before sentencing, Federal Prosecutor Sharon McCaslin referred to Jeff Dietrich as “the leader of a cult” (obviously believing the Catholic Worker a cult).
Former LACW community member David Omondi (second from right) will be sentenced on April 28.
From Friday, March 4, through Sunday, March 6, faith-based anti-nuclear resisters from the western part of the U.S. gathered in Santa Barbara, CA, for the annual PLC Resistance Retreat and Direct Action, this year at Vandenberg AFB. Photos courtesy of The Nuclear Resister.
On Sunday, March 6, as part of the Pacific Life Community’s direct action at the front gate of Vandenberg AFB, seven PLC members were arrested for trespass onto military property. Those arrested included: (left to right) Charley Smith, Elizabeth Murray, Karan Benton, Jorge Manly-Gil, Tom Webb, Ed Ehmke, and Mary Jane Parrine. All were cited and later released. A court date will be scheduled at a later date. Below is a letter the seven attempted to deliver to the base commander and read during their arrest:
TO: Col. J. Christopher Moss, Cmdr, 30th Space Wing, Vandenberg AFB
FROM: Pacific Life Community
SUBJECT: Action To Protest Minuteman ICBM Firings on Marshall Islands
We are members of the Pacific Life Community – a local network of spiritually motivated advocates for ending nuclear weapons and other means of war-making through nonviolent direct action. Today we cross the line because we believe that actions inside Vandenberg Air Force Base have crossed the line – the line of regard for our fellow human beings.
We refer to the regular launchings of Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, which land on the occupied territory of the Marshall Islands. These ICBMs contribute to the further poisoning of the air, land, and waters surrounding the Marshall islands, whose people continue to suffer terribly from a legacy of U.S. government nuclear testing on their formerly pristine paradise.
But far from honoring the longstanding debt owed to the Marshalese people as a result of decades of these nuclear tests, our government continues to squander U.S. taxpayer dollars to carry out the ongoing destruction of the Marshall Islands, whose air, water, and land continue to be poisoned from our ICBMs and other U.S. military materiel.
Those tax dollars could be put to much better use here at home — to alleviate economic misery by creating jobs and boosting local infrastructure. Instead, our expensive military occupation of the Marshall Islands has forced these innocent people away from their homes and consigned them to lives of misery and squalor.
Moreover, the firing of ICBMs by the United States may be considered as a provocation during this time of simmering tensions in the Asia-Pacific region – we are thinking specifically of North Korea. Far from making the American people safer, these missile firings may draw us closer to a nuclear conflagration.
We appeal to you to follow a higher law – that of your conscience – and refuse to send more missiles into the Pacific. Instead, we urge you to join us in calling for a permanent U.S. withdrawal from the Marshall Islands, including provision of fair and just compensation for a people deeply wronged by misguided U.S. policies.
The Pacific Life Community
An Air Force Global Strike Command Minuteman III ICBM (tipped with depleted uranium) is scheduled to launch between Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21 from Vandenberg AFB in continued preparation for the nuclear destruction of the planet by the U.S. empire.
The question that MUST be asked is: Why does the citizenry of this nation silently allow for the preparation of the planet’s destruction–in our name and in the name of the God of creation–solely for the purpose of obscene, escalating corporate profits and U.S. hegemonic goals? This idolatrous, blasphemous, and diabolical insanity MUST cease.
L.A. Catholic Worker Mike Wisniewski (second from left in photo) appeared in Santa Barbara Federal Court on Thursday, February 18, for sentencing regarding the August 8, 2015 nonviolent witness at Vandenberg AFB in protest against U.S. nuclear weapons policy (see the next two posts below). After nearly one hour of discussion between Magistrate Judge Louise LaMonthe, the Federal Prosecutor, Mike’s Public Defender, and Mike, Judge LaMonthe decided, with much consternation, on a sentence of one year probation and $35 in court assessments, closely following the U.S. Probation Department’s recommendation. Judge LaMonthe’s consternation resulted from being somewhat sympathetic toward our cause, yet believing Mike had to suffer the consequences for breaking the law, and knowing fines would not be paid, and jail time was too harsh, also believing probation will not deter future arrests. Jeff Dietrich (third from left from the LACW) and Dennis Apel (first on left from the Guadalupe CW) will be sentenced on March 17. David Omondi (second from right from the Kenya CW)) will be sentenced on April 28.
L.A. Catholic Workers Jeff Dietrich, Mike Wisniewski, David Omondi, and Erica Brock appeared in Santa Barbara Federal Court on Thursday, November 19, for arraignment on trespass charges resulting from their August 8, 2015 witness at Vandenberg in protest against U.S. nuclear policy and its imperial war-making.
Erica pleaded guilty–$100 fine plus $35 in fees. Jeff and Mike pleaded no contest. Both are facing jail time and will be sentenced on February 18. David pleaded no contest and is also facing jail time and will be sentenced on April 29. Maximum sentence is six months in federal prison plus $5000 fine. The prosecutor asked for jail time because of their refusal to cooperate with this filthy rotten system and pay fines from previous actions.
Veterans For Peace member Chris Knudson also appeared, pleaded guilty and received $100 fine plus $35 fees.
Dennis Apel from the Guadalupe CW rescheduled his arraignment to a date in December and also will face jail time for the same reason.
Five Catholic Workers and a member of Veterans For Peace were arrested on Saturday, August 8, after an hour long vigil commemorating the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thirty-five people attended the vigil including members of the L.A, Guadalupe, and Kenya Catholic Workers, Veterans for Peace, and other individuals.
Dennis Apel led us in a short prayer of repentance and read a poem by Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Founder, David Krieger, entitled: “God Responded With Tears” from the book of poetry God’s Tears: Reflections on the Atomic Bombs Dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dennis also reminded us that this date also marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Nuremberg Charter by the U.S. and other European nations. The charter stipulated that crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the European Axis Powers could be tried. How ironic that this agreement was signed two days after the bombing of Hiroshima and one day before the bombing of Nagasaki, yet NOBODY has been held accountable.
Those arrested included: (from left to right) Dennis Apel (Guadalupe CW), Mike Wisniewski and Jeff Dietrich (LACW) Chris Knucson (Veterans For Peace), David Omondi (Formerly of the LACW now at the Kenya CW), and Erica Brock (LACW Summer Intern who is now an LACW community member). The six resisters were sited for trespass and released an hour later at Vandenberg Village. No court date scheduled at this time. More photos to come. (Double click on photo to view in high resolution)
UPDATE – October 5, 2015: We received notice that those arrested have a Thursday, November 19, court appearance at 1pm in Santa Barbara Federal Bankruptcy Court, 1415 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. If you can attend for support, it would be greatly appreciated. Be sure to bring your ID.
This LINK is to a inspirational and touching interview with Fr. George Zabelka, the chaplain to the crews that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This LINK is to a short video from the documentary about Fr. Zabelka, The Reluctant Prophet, who several years before his death, had a faith conversion and publicly repented for his part in the bombings, which was the greatest evil this nation has thus far committed, and began speaking out against war in general, nuclear weapons in particular, promoting gospel nonviolence as a way of life. This LINK is to the excellent full documentary–The Reluctant Prophet–about Fr. George Zabelka, the history of U.S. nuclearism, and the resistance against nuclear weapons.