Tag Archives: Camp Casey

From our Colorado Springs antiwar art show: Have your cake, now eat it.


The Occupy Wall Street NO COMMENT art show reminded me of the antiwar gallery exhibit we featured at our own peace encampment in 2005. Among my favorite pieces was an interactive self-performance piece called HAVE YOUR CAKE, which featured a festive party table adorned with a sheet cake whose icing featured the likeness of a wounded Iraqi boy, into whom attendees had to cut to have a slice. Of course, no takers.

Third Year of Nevada & Dale PEACE vigil

September’s 3RD FRIDAY IRAQ MORATORIUM is rescheduled/merged to this week’s MONDAY NOON VIGIL, where Colorado Springs’ most persistent antiwar loiterers will curse their THIRD YEAR. Please join us Monday at Noon, at Nevada Ave and Dale Street. –UPDATE 9/22:
toons-noon-vigil

Camp Casey Colorado Springs began in mid September 2005, and caught flack for conflicting with the Lavender Film Festival opening that evening (the 2008 PPLFF opens tonight!). Our first concurrent action was a counter-recruitment effort -more coincidence- at Palmer High School. After several months of nightly campfires, the full-time campers adjourned for the winter, but a daily vigil was continued out of concern for a Christian Peacemaker Team abducted in Iraq. After the CPT hostages were released, the vigil keepers convened weekly, and continue to this day.

Betrayed by the at-peace community

With “malice,” is the word the CS Indy chose. Oh boy. For our out-of-town readers, the PPJPC dirty laundry has reached the printed news. It certainly is embarrassing, but probably too, about time. I’ve spent the last two years playing politely, leaving unresolved issues behind closed doors, painting optimistic pictures reflecting where I hoped the PPJPC could be. After the latest unfortunate escalation, I listened to entreaties to keep the developments between ourselves. Now why would it fall to me to keep a lid on somebody else’s indiscretions, without so much as an apology or expression of consideration from colleagues? No, thank you.

In fact, the response has been to try to impugn my integrity. Bring that one on.

I was sent into the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission with a mission, to discover why it appeared so dysfunctional. Participation was slacking and the office appeared to be dropping the ball. Why? I discovered a staff very determined to subvert all activities, period. In the guise of handy excuses. I’ve written plenty about outright insubordination, about refusal to rally membership, about foot-dragging with publishing, websites and fund-raising. To someone experienced with effective organizations it was obvious, to others steeped in social affinity groups, perhaps not so.

What I didn’t observe was that a cadre of members are quite satisfied to leave it that way. Now, from some of the more active people, I have become dismayed to discover the PPJPC doesn’t represent the Colorado Springs peace community, it represents the at-peace community.

Since my participation in Crawford Texas with Cindy Sheehan, through our Camp Casey encampment here, I saw that the PPJPC would not fully support the growing popularity of antiwar sentiment. The group takes credit for whatever happens, but won’t provide assistance. Now they’re actually hurting other efforts by playing the nonviolence card, implying that everyone else is not nonviolent enough. I defy anyone to tell me that I am not nonviolent. I’ll knock their metaphysical block right off their sagging shoulders!

Indeed, anger is considered violent, speech is considered violent. In a silent monastery I’d agree. And I underestimated the contemplative garden this group has commissioned for itself with the PPJPC. However, they are prepared to use every violent means of untruth, manipulation, shaming, and emotional extortion to protect their private prayer club.

I’m happy to leave it to them. I won’t fall again for pleas that their efforts need more and younger blood. They’re not prepared to open the doors to energetic people with higher expectations.

They claim to be the only game in town when it comes to standing up against war. That’s how they solicit donations. I think they ought to confess their game is spectator solitaire. Then there will be enough said.

Constantine’s Sword debuts on April 19

Sword of Constantine documentary debuts in US on April 19
Oren Jacoby filmed part of this documentary in Colorado Springs in 2006. I remember when he interviewed our vigil for the Christian Peacemaker Team members held captive in Iraq. We were assembling daily at noon at Camp Casey. The filmmakers arrived with their camera held out the window, rolling. Jacoby had hired a local crew to film the Colorado Springs segments, and rendezvous’d with them in the Toons parking lot. Both entourage and team were wearing black, as if they’d stepped out of a cab in New York City. Our daily CPT event, which included a Guantanamo protest and a march to congressional offices, had been covered by three videographers in as many weeks, but this felt like a visit from the big league. CONSTANTINE’S SWORD screens this weekend in NY.

Democratic Party corruption sinks the heart of Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan has been grieving a long time, and this Memorial Day after the capitulation of the Democratic Party legislators in Congress was particularly rough. But it is more than that. The pain is made even worse by how inactive so many rank and file Democratic Party voters are in opposing this war.

At street vigils we see this, too. So many liberal minded folk wave and honk their horns in support of our vigil, but then it seems that they never get out of their cars to be the protesters, and not just the driver by-ers. After a while, this becomes disheartening.

We hope that Cindy gets her spirits back up and rejoins the activist antiwar movement after some family time off. She deserves the best, and she has given America her best. Here is her last commentary about how despairing she now feels. Many feel the same alongside her.

We are sad to see it be so, but when push comes to shove, the Democratic Party is not to be relied on. Cindy Sheehan tried to push the Democratic Party into action, but the corporate controllers resisted. She is not the first, and will not be the last to fail in such a project.

Good Riddance Attention Whore
by Cindy Sheehan

I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called “Face” of the American anti-war movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such “liberal blogs” as the Democratic Underground. Being called an “attention whore” and being told “good riddance” are some of the more milder rebukes.

I have come to some heartbreaking conclusions this Memorial Day Morning. These are not spur of the moment reflections, but things I have been meditating on for about a year now. The conclusions that I have slowly and very reluctantly come to are very heartbreaking to me.

The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a “tool” of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our “two-party” system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the “left” started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of “right or left”, but “right and wrong.”

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt “two” party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?

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Memorial Day 3,500 x 100

This Memorial Day the number of US soldier casualties in Iraq nears 3,500.

At 1,000 we held a vigil in Acacia Park. We did the same at the 1,500 and 2,000 marks. The numbered-cross memorial we mounted at Camp Casey COS commemorated near 2,000 deaths. The “Eyes Wide Open” boot collection came to town as the number exceeded 2,500. Colorado Springs was its last stop because the figures began to require too many boots to unpack at each stop. We met again in the park for the 3,000th, but I’m not going to eulogize any more boots until the number reaches 50,000.

That’s well into Vietnam War casualty territory and that’s where we’re going. The war got its funding, the military has revealed its plans to double the troop levels, the President is warning us to expect US casualties to surge, and sure enough we’re seeing the body count rise. Eight, fifteen a day. Not counting mercenaries. And still no one’s tallying the Iraqi dead.

I’m okay not to count the mercenaries. But what of our volunteer army, signing ever-increasing re-enlistment bonuses? I don’t want to count them either. Our soldiers keep shipping themselves off to Iraq to serve well-enough-documented evil illegal deeds. What’s to commemorate, really? They’re not jumping off cliffs, they’re driving armored vehicles into Iraqi children on the way.

Our soldier’s souls are already lost to us. That’s 150,000 active in Iraq. 300,000 counting the mercenaries. Plus who ever’s being held back with PTSD. Cry about that.

On this date in 1973, the military had counted 44 deaths for El Paso County. It was not enough even then.

Democracy Now on KRCC

Mini fliers to urge KRCC listeners to actionThis week the Pacifica news program Democracy Now was added to the KRCC lineup on weekdays at 7pm. After listening this week when I could, I came away thinking: for the Colorado Springs community, the sudden juxtaposition of Democracy Now to the regular NPR and BBC-lite news programming has got to be turning some heads. Local critics had anticipated that Democracy Now would perseverate on only the bad and the ugly, but this inaugural week proved very much the opposite.

What happened this week? The Democrats ran roughshod over Congress. They introduced some key legislation ahead of their 100 hour pledge, leaving time even for a non-binding resolution on Iraq. In brief, they behaved quite the opposite of how the mainstream media would like to portray Democrats. On NPR, just as on the networks, we were given only brief summaries of what the Dems did. The little interest the reporters paid to the stories played into the inferrence that accomplishments in Congress this week were of little consequence. And the Senate’s non-binding resolution damns itself with its ineffectual appellation, if that’s all you say about it.

Contrast that with Democracy Now’s coverage. DN aired Representative Lynn Woolsey’s full address on behalf the corresponding bill in the House, the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act. To hear her rational and sober words left you wondering how anyone could still think otherwise about what to do in Iraq. American listeners are not accustomed to hearing politicians unspun. These days when a speech such as Rep. Woolsey’s reaches the public unfiltered, we think that person should run for president. The media doesn’t want to empower politicians like Woolsey if they can help it. Better for Americans to be impressed with TV celebrities than real public servants.

And so Democracy Now’s reports this week were affirming. They offered the ray of hope that the new House and Senate will move forward in spite of whether the mainstram media, including NPR, make light of their work.

The liberal media unmaskedI saw NPR’s Political Correspondent Mara Liasson speak at Colorado College back in 2004. She spoke about the likely contenders for the Democratic nomination. Asked afterwards why, incredibly, she never once mentioned Dennis Kucinich, she told us it was because she assumed we were interested in the candidates of consequence.

Now in Colorado Springs, like over 500 other communities in America in which Democracy Now is airing side by side with NPR, reporters like Mara Liasson are going to know they can’t play gatekeeper with the news. Although Fox and the MSM will be there to corroborate the mainstream NPR line, public radio listeners will be hearing other voices, such as Amy Goodman’s, pulling the cat from the bag. Increasingly, Mara and company will no longer get to decide for their listeners what persons or which issues are of consequence.

Colorado Springs’ first week of Democracy Now began with a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The DN special was broadcast live from the media conference in Memphis and The Indy’s publisher John Weiss was there. Amy Goodman congratulated him on DN’s having broken into the Colorado Springs market. It was news to John, but it’s true he played a key role. At the end of the day though the credit goes to KRCC’s new station manager Delaney Utterback for all the right reasons.

Closed door policy at Senator Allard’s

Click for more pictures of the PPJPC petition march
This is building security manager Del Suhr blocking our way to Senator Wayne Allard’s office in the Plaza of the Rockies. He told us, in less civil words, what we didn’t understand about Iraq, that we were unpatriotic, that we were Taliban, and he refused to let us pass. In the end Mr. Suhr and his staff permitted two of us to ascend to the Senator’s office under escort.

I didn’t want to argue with the mis-educated man, so I suggested only that he might owe it to everyone, especially the dead, to look into the facts without an O’Reilly topspin. You’re rationalizing illegal war and immoral conduct Mr. Neuhauser and it won’t be enough to say later you didn’t know. Bush is going to hang, as surely as the rest of his cohorts, for the highest crimes against humanity, and you were following his orders, keeping the rails greased.

My friends and I were today trying to present a petition to our senator to urge him to reverse his endorsement of Bush’s torture policy. Torture is universally deplored, even our duplicitous leaders dare not admit they allow it, yet the Torture Bill exclusions and the mounting evidence show otherwise. And while victims continue to suffer at the hands of American torturers, you Mr. Suhr stand guard to hold off their hope of rescue.

When justice comes for those victims I’ll bet you will find playing stupid very humbling.

Neighborhood fox

Red fox chasing a mouseFox in the plural.
 
It seems almost overnight in Colorado Springs now whenever you cross the street you see red fox. As much downtown as in the foothills.
 
The first night at Camp Casey fox stole two pairs of sandals, actually the equivalent, one of each. But not before comingling everyone’s shoes in what must have been quite an indecisive dance. I woke and thought I’d missed a party.

When Eyes Wide Open visited Colorado College, it involved a geometric arrangement of nearly three thousand army boots and an equal number of civilian shoes on the green of Armstrong Quad. I was among those who stayed up to watch for vandals. But through the night the only activity we observed was that of several pairs of young red fox, making off with boots until the scent of another pair drew their interest. We’d go out every couple hours and rearrange the memorial footware, losing in the end not one.

The fox are getting rather friendly. Colorado College students report one which comes to watch the soccer games regularly. A friend of mine pet a fox, having mistaken it in the dark for something domestic until the feel of the coarse fur tempered the vigor of her stroke. Another friend thought a cat was poking its head out of a canopy and he gave it a friendly pat. They both looked at each other in surprise.

The fox are beautiful to behold running with a cadence like they are swimming on the wind, probably their fluffy tails cannot do but otherwise. If it runs like a dog, then you’ve spotted a coyote. Not even felines have such grace. To see two fox siblings running together multiplies the impression. They may be hunting along opposite sides of the street but you sense it’s the same stream. No doubt it’s a haunting sense too if you are a small rodent.

I particularly like to watch a fox negotiate traffic. He may wait for cars to pass, but more often he’ll weave through, skirting the cars, not the least bit panicked, more intent it seems on keeping in motion.

Fawcett hole-in-the-head

Jay Fawcett is a pro war DemocratOf what good is another pro-war politician, be he a Republican or a Democrat? Colorado Springs congressional candidate Jay Fawcett is a revolving-door military contractor who is unapologetic about what the US is doing in Iraq. We’ve already got plenty of those in Washington. What do the Democrats of El Paso County gain by promoting another conservative schmo who is running on a platform of “smarter governance?”

In my opinion, Fawcett is a Republican plant, a straw-man meant to lose, meant to usurp the opportunity the Democrats have to offer a better candidate. If I’m wrong, the Republicans couldn’t have hand-picked a bigger loser than Fawcett.

At this year’s MLK march, Jay Fawcett walked out of the memorial service when the preacher expounded on King’s adamant opposition to war. Fawcett stood up and worked his way out the row before many gaping mouths.

At the single Justice and Peace event which he attended, Fawcett voiced his opposition and signed off with a condescending “good luck.”

The democrats need an alternative or they need to give it a rest.

Short term life expectancy

This week 1,500 Army reservists from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division are being ordered from Kuwait to join the embattled Marines in Iraq’s Anbar province. Their commander General Casey assured us this deployment will be short-term. “Definitely short-term” he reiterated.
 
With casualty rates so high, is the general’s confidence based on the soldier’s probable life expectancy?

Support our snively troops

Vandalism at Camp Casey
We’ve had a spate of vandalism at Camp Casey of late. It’s usually the same thing: lights broken, cinder blocks smashed, chairs upturned, fire pit stolen, banners torn and taken. They’ve taken STOP THE WAR, END WAR, WHAT NOBLE CAUSE, DEMOCRACY DEMANDS NON-VIOLENCE and many others. We simply make more. But they always leave the banner that reads SUPPORT OUR TROOPS – BRING THEM HOME NOW. What self-serving ninnies!

There might be well-intentioned, ordinary Americans caught up in Bush’s lies, out in Iraq and Afghanistan thinking they are protecting our freedoms. But they are killing innocents. They are murdering innocents. They are aiding and abeiting their fellow soldiers who are murdering innocents. At some point we’d have to say that being an idealist idiot cannot be an excuse.

Let me at these troops we’re supposed to support. I’ll spit in the face of every one of them. Idiots. Moral degenerates. Cowards. They’re afraid to do the right thing and resist immoral orders, afraid to face the brig instead of putting themselves in the position to be forced to kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis. I sympathize with every one of them but I respect not a one. They are all cowards, idiots, killers, or scum. And their parents are indefensible.

Bring the troops home, yes. To save the lives of innocents. What should I care about the soldier’s lives? Three years into this war, it would be fair to say they’ve earned what’s coming to them in this life or the next. Cowards and bastards every one.

ERRATUM 7.26
I’ve gotten so much heat for writing this. As I deserve. I’ve met active duty soldiers who are fine human beings, whom I like, all with their own stories of how they were caught up in what’s happened. A number are involved in the anti-war effort. I applaud their actions and really my original sentiment was harsh.

I do believe that the end of this war will have to come, as it did in Vietnam, when the soldiers themselves refuse to serve. When soldiers say no, when officers fear that their men will not follow, is when the Pentagon tells the President that this war is over.

It’s a tall order to ask of a common soldier, but it would not be a selfless act. Opting to go to the brig would be wiser than risking a tour of duty with IEDs, PTSD, permanent moral trauma, exposure to DU, the Anthrax vaccine, etc.

What did you do against the war Daddy?

Victims of Marine post-IED massacrePeople on all sides of the anti-war issue ask me what we’re doing with the peace camp. What are you thinking you can accomplish with it anymore?

I have to tell them it’s for conscience. For my part, I can’t let each further day of this country’s immoral actions go by without expressing my explicit repudiation. I’m struggling to know what more I could do, and I’ll participate in this meager gesture of objection until I do.

Will there be any changing of minds among the indifferent masses? I don’t know. Their passivity and pig-headedness has brought on this authoritarian dictatorship, and soon enough with the tightening of economic screws the people will feel the oppression they perhaps have coming.

And those complicit in these schemes today may prosper for a while, until they themselves are sheparded into the have-not classes.

Or, if you believe that truth and justice will ultimately prevail, then those complicit parties will meet their fate. Maybe it will be karma, maybe it will be a citizens tribunal. I’d certainly like to be there with the noose. A blacklist will suffice.

We had scheduled a sidewalk intervention today at a local public radio station. They’re kicking off their fund drive this weekend and we were hoping to lobby potential supporters to put in a word for adding DEMOCRACY NOW to the station’s lineup.

Well, a confrontation with the station manager this morning left us prematurely fatigued. He doesn’t want Democracy Now. Our hurdle is that not enough members know about the show to want it, and the manager won’t let Democracy Now be mentioned on the air lest more listeners hear about the grassroots effort to add the program.

It’s an uphill battle with little reward. There are too many ill-informed listeners who will think we are trying to harm their favorite station, and there are just enough misled radio station workers to stand in the way. In the end we are simply doing the station manager’s job by lobbying for better programming. He’s paid to do that. He’s entrusted to that.

Today is Earth Day and we’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Space Symposium protest 2006 part 2

N-8 silo revisited
Day 1: Monday
On Monday we stood, nearly two dozen of us at the corner of Lake and Lake Circle, we sang our song to an Oscar Meyer melody, we held banners, we blew our whistles and we handed out our baloney sanwiches. And nearly got arrested.

The Broadmoor had cordoned off the majority of the sidewalk in front of their new Convention Center. Our protest was relegated to only the corner. True, it was a very visible corner, and we could offer flyers to nearly everyone walking to the Convention Center from the Broadmoor Hotel. But we thought we could accomplish a little more if we paraded our banners more visibly.

Dave Therault noted that all the Harris security personel were bunched up around us. Dave proposed a plan to excercise their legs a little. He suggested that he and I parade a banner along Lake Circle, walking in the marked bike lane adjacent to where the Broadmoor had blocked off our pedestrian sidewalk. Our banner would then be seen by the attendees inside the center, not just those milling about the entrance. Our banner read STAR WARS RESEARCH: A WELFARE SYSTEM FOR TECHNOLOGY.

Sure enough, as soon as we began we heard the security radios squalk. “Stop them” was the gist of the messages. A nearby guard told us to stop but we looked at him and asked why, while still moving forward. He responded with a smile. Each time we passed somebody with a radio, we could hear the supervisor ask why they were not containing us.

When we returned from our first pass, we added another person to our parade and another banner. It was a Henry Ford quote: TAKE THE PROFIT OUT OF WAR & WE’LL HAVE PEACE TOMORROW. This time more security officers joined us. When we returned we noted that they were now quite spread out.

On our third pass, the head of security came down himself. He approached us from the street, simply to tell us, in no uncertain terms and not calmly or with civility, to get back to where they were permitting us to stand. We answered that we didn’t work for him, actually and would proceed how we pleased. He repeated his command and threatened to call the cops and have us taken away. Certainly everything accelerated from there.

Suddenly we were surrounded by a half dozen policemen. They listened and interjected in calm terms that we were on Broadmoor property and had to do what the man said. We argued public thoroughfare, pedestrian right-of-way, to no avail. Dave diffused the confrontation, I assumed my role as hothead.

I wonder, I know why we are so vociferous in our condemnation of the military complex. What is it that drives their enthousiasm to stop us? We’re holding banners. They are killing babies, ruining lives and subjugating unsuspecting masses. We’re holding banners. Who should be the more indignant?

2.
On the way out, walking into the Broadmoor neighborhood to retrieve one of our cars, I encountered a soldier walking the other way. He’d just parked his car perhaps and we crossed paths on this tree lined street. He wore a full dress uniform, lots of medals and a beret, and he carried himself with informal dignity. I was wearing a bright green t-shirt enblazoned with a large peace sign and my Camp Casey cap. I was carrying several rolled banners over my shoulder and walked like I was returning from the front line.

The soldier and I nodded to each other and smiled. I couldn’t help but feel we had communicated a solidarity. He has been doing his job, I have been doing mine, both on the periphery of those making the decisions. The war mongers aren’t the soldiers. The war mongers are the guys in suits, sporting golf tans. Our common adversaries. And boy are there a lot of them. Three more symposium days to go.

Day 2: Tuesday
In conjunction with the Space Symposium protest at the Broadmoor, CITIZENS FOR PEACE IN SPACE held a screening on Monday night in the WES room at Colorado College. We watched the new documentary CONVICTION, about the three Dominican sisters who served almost four years in Federal Prison for protesting at a Minuteman missile silo in 2002. It had screened the day before in Denver to an audience of 350. The director and producer were on hand to answer questions, as were sisters Ardeth, Carol and Jackie. On Tueday night CONVICTION was scheduled to screen again in Greeley, so CPIS decided to make a day trip out of the event and provide an entourage for the sisters.

On the way of course Bill scheduled protest actions at Lockeed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Buckley AFB and Minuteman silo N-8, the site of the sisters’ 2002 Plowshare action.

Noteworthy perhaps was the degree to which preparations were made in advance of our arrival. Even Aurora Community College, where we planned to park and disperse ourselves to three of the defense contractors in Aurora, was ready for us. Bill had mentioned receiving several telephone inquiries from the various police departments, they had been checking CSAction for details of our plans. When we arrived at each location, we found barriers had been installed at the entrance of every parking lot with a minimum of a half dozen security personel standing about. I cannot say they were there to greet us, because they were not. They stood off to the side, or backed up when we approached. They were keeping a healthy no-man zone between us. At Raytheon there were even people posted on the roof to watch us.

At Buckley Airforce Base we were read a letter of greeting from the security officer that sounded like our Miranda rights, although it was full of cautionary advisories should we consider trying to force our way past the security booth. Our only intentions had been to conduct a rally and listen to what several experts could tell us about the activities conducted at Buckley, particularly having to do with those huge golf balls. I wondered if the security detail which contained us had sufficient clearance to be hearing such information.

Here is perhaps why protesters have to expect NSA surveillance. Because we learn too damn much. If the military doesn’t trust its own officers with classified information, they certainly don’t trust us to keep it secret. And we’re willing to let anyone overhear us, maybe that could be a genuine national security risk. In this case, we spoke about NSA/Defense Department complicity in the presence of Buckley AFB part-time security guard contractors.

The highlight of the day was of course Minuteman silo N-8, where the sisters held a press conference to reporters from Denver and Greeley. It was an emotional event and hard to describe. Many of us had never stood so near to a weapon of mass destruction. In this case, mass-mass-destruction, many-many times more powerful than the bombs unleashed upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This missile carries payloads for thirty separate destinations. In light of the fall of the Soviet Union, the Minuteman missile’s purpose is obsolete. Strategically it can now serve only an offensive purpose. Technically its existence violates the non-proliferation treaties to which our nation is signatory. N-8 presents a very, very grave danger to humankind’s survival. It is not a toy.

We drove Northeast from Greely to reach N-8. We probably could have found a nearer missile if we wanted. There are 49 missile sites in Colorado, out of 500 sites nation-wide.

While we conducted our action, wrapping the gate with CRIME SCENE tape, marking the site with a poster designating it as a WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION, and an EVICTION NOTICE, a black helicopter circled. Apparently within just minutes of our leaving, several matte black SUVs arrived and removed our decorations.

Tennis courts in the shadow of golf balls
Day 3: Wednesday
Was it because I hadn’t had any non-violence training? Is that why everyone jumped in to enforce a stand down from my assailant?

Our protest was just getting started, I was holding half of a banner in one hand and passing out fliers with the other when a very angry man zeroed right in. Maybe it was the bright green peace sign. He was jogging along Lake Circle and he had not even passed us. He shouted “I know people who died for you” and before I could answer, though I must not have looked sufficiently repentent, he repeated himself while leaping to clutch my collar and push against me to I don’t know where. I had time only to ask him if he knew that he was committing assault before the Police officers peeled him off and led him away for a discussion.

I regret not having requested that he be allowed to state his piece, minus the physical aggression, but instead we simply instructed the officers that there would be no need to press charges. I didn’t see it but eventually he must have jogged off. Our banner read BEWARE THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous warning.

I am a non-violent person, even a pacifist, though perhaps I am not much of a verbal pacifist. I had no intention of matching this guy’s blows, but I had every intention to stand up to being pushed.

I would have liked to call him on his much mistaken, sentimentalist, flag-hugging, bullying world view. Jogging in the Broadmoor area, this red-shorted, military-coifed assailant had probably commanded some soldiers who had been killed. I do mourn their loss. But it sounds like he should have thrown his life into the ring instead of beating his breast about the sacrifice made by others. Who knows how voluntarily their lives were offered? It always amazes me to hear military commanders brag about the casualty rate faced by their units. When ships sink, we expect captains to go down with the ship. Why? Because we expect them to save the men for which they were responsible or die trying.

Am I being harsh? I didn’t try to knock him down. That’s what we’re protesting: people who are knocking others down, and calling it “defending our freedom.”

Day 4: Thursday.
The Broadmoor had the police explain that we would not be permitted to walk in the bicycle path as we had tried two days before. So this time we brought bikes. I got to the protest late, at nine am instead of eight, just as several of our participants had to be shuttled to the airport. So I was left to peddle my bike up and down Lake Circle alone. If ever I have felt like a big dweeb, this was it. And it got on the news.

There was too much wind to trail a banner. I had selected WILL YOUR CHILDREN SURVIVE YOUR WORK? Instead I waved a large peace pirate flag. The peace sign with crossbones beneath it. A peace sign Jolly Roger. Or symbol for poison. Either way it’s a message the war makers do not want to hear. If there was a symbol for what sunshine represents to vampires, maybe that would be appropriate too.

Our protest of the SPACE SYMPOSIUM had everything to do with the fact that space is being militarized out of sight of the American public. How can there be oversight in a democracy if the citizens aren’t told what is going on?

Each day we would see schoolbus-loads of kids parading through the symposium. The event is billed as something much more benign. But did we see any scientists? I doubt it. We only saw men with military haircuts, in uniform and out. I should say that I did see the odd Brit, and they often gave us a closely held thumbs up!

The flag I waved today was to demonstrate that the message of peace has been relegated to renegades. What a perfect example at the Broadmoor! The hotel had closed its sidewalks to keep our protest from being seen from the Convention Center windows. We had to use the bike paths in order to give our message visibility.

So I pedaled up the designated bike lane on one side and down the bike lane on the other. I had to navigate past hotel employees and delegates who were sometimes skirting the security cordons themselves. I had to steer around the security chief’s pickup as he alternated between following me around, or parking and calling out to me each time I would pass. He was counting my laps, starting at zero arbitrarily. At one point, having reached to ten, he held both hands out the window as if to signal to someone that he’d counted ten. I looked but couldn’t see who was supposed to be watching him. Every so often policemen would appear to loiter near to where I would pass, but they would only nod in greeting.

I stayed until past the lunch hour surge out of the center. A friend has informed me that the bicycle act was on the local KKTV news. “Broadmoor protester nearly arrested,” but I didn’t see their camera. Perhaps they were filming through a window in the center. I was busy catching the eye of the conventiongoers on the street. There were smiles and thumbs up, but mostly the attendees rushed past. There was also a “enjoy your freedom there buddy.” As if these very-well-paid guys in suits want to be paid credit for our freedom too. “Freedom can be hard work, actually” I told them.

Stopping arms in space

Citizens for Peace in Space
It’s called the 2006 Space Symposium, and this year it is seeing a record number of attendees. But the participants are not space explorers, they’re arms manufacturers. Space exploration is for NASA I guess, the symposium is about coordinating the militarization of space. Near space. The space from which whoever owns the hardware can rain terror upon whoever is beneath.

Bill Sulzman has been running the Citizens for Peace In Space efforts for several years now. He has organized a splendid action this year in which we are calling for attendees to step out as whisleblowers. We are also admonishing the Defense Department for justifying the arms buildup in space as necessary for “defending freedom.” IT’S BALONEY we shout!

This is the summary of day one. Read about the ensuing days:
    day two, a visit to Minuteman missile silo N-8,
    day three, accosted by a rabid jogger at Broadmoor protest,
    day four, bike path hijinks.

Day 1: Monday
On Monday we stood, nearly two dozen of us at the corner of Lake and Lake Circle, we sang our song to an Oscar Meyer melody, we held banners, we blew our whistles and we handed out our baloney sanwiches. And nearly got arrested.

The Broadmoor had cordoned off the majority of the sidewalk in front of their new Convention Center. Our protest was relegated to only the corner. True, it was a very visible corner, and we could offer flyers to nearly everyone walking to the Convention Center from the Broadmoor Hotel. But we thought we could accomplish a little more if we paraded our banners more visibly.

Dave Therault noted that all the Harris security personel were bunched up around us. Dave proposed a plan to excercise their legs a little. He suggested that he and I parade a banner along Lake Circle, walking in the marked bike lane adjacent to where the Broadmoor had blocked off our pedestrian sidewalk. Our banner would then be seen by the attendees inside the center, not just those milling about the entrance. Our banner read STAR WARS RESEARCH: A WELFARE SYSTEM FOR TECHNOLOGY.

Sure enough, as soon as we began we heard the security radios squalk. “Stop them” was the gist of the messages. A nearby guard told us to stop but we looked at him and asked why, while still moving forward. He responded with a smile. Each time we passed somebody with a radio, we could hear the supervisor ask why they were not containing us.

When we returned from our first pass, we added another person to our parade and another banner. It was a Henry Ford quote: TAKE THE PROFIT OUT OF WAR & WE’LL HAVE PEACE TOMORROW. This time more security officers joined us. When we returned we noted that they were now quite spread out.

On our third pass, the head of security came down himself. He approached us from the street, simply to tell us, in no uncertain terms and not calmly or with civility, to get back to where they were permitting us to stand. We answered that we didn’t work for him, actually and would proceed how we pleased. He repeated his command and threatened to call the cops and have us taken away. Certainly everything accelerated from there.

Suddenly we were surrounded by a half dozen policemen. They listened and interjected in calm terms that we were on Broadmoor property and had to do what the man said. We argued public thoroughfare, pedestrian right-of-way, to no avail. Dave diffused the confrontation, I assumed my role as hothead.

I wonder, I know why we are so vociferous in our condemnation of the military complex. What is it that drives their enthousiasm to stop us? We’re holding banners. They are killing babies, ruining lives and subjugating unsuspecting masses. We’re holding banners. Who should be the more indignant?

2.
On the way out, walking into the Broadmoor neighborhood to retrieve one of our cars, I encountered a soldier walking the other way. He’d just parked his car perhaps and we crossed paths on this tree lined street. He wore a full dress uniform, lots of medals and a beret, and he carried himself with informal dignity. I was wearing a bright green t-shirt enblazoned with a large peace sign and my Camp Casey cap. I was carrying several rolled banners over my shoulder and walked like I was returning from the front line.

The soldier and I nodded to each other and smiled. I couldn’t help but feel we had communicated a solidarity. He has been doing his job, I have been doing mine, both on the periphery of those making the decisions. The war mongers aren’t the soldiers. The war mongers are the guys in suits, sporting golf tans. Our common adversaries. And boy are there a lot of them. Three more symposium days to go.

New banners for Camp Casey

Time for some spring cleaning at Camp Casey, an opportunity to hang out some fresh laundry. We’ve sewn new colorful sheets and here are prospective banner slogans:

STAND
AGAINST
WAR
STOP
THE
KILLING
HANDS
OFF
IRAN
9/11
BUSH
KNEW
GLOBAL
JUSTICE
NOT WAR
FREEDOM
IS NOT A
FREE RIDE
STAND UP
COLORADO
SPRINGS
WAR  IS
TERRORISM
PEACE IS
PATRIOTIC
TROOPS
OUT NOW
NO WAR
FOR ISRAEL
END THE
OCCUPATION
WHAT DID
JESUS DO ?

Here’s an interesting banner we may opt not to fly just yet.

Cindy Sheehan, taking the fun out of war!

Cindy Sheehan dons our Camp Casey Colorado Springs cap.
Kelly, Pallas and Cindy.
 
Camp Casey Colorado Springs own Pallas Stanford and IVAW co-founder Kelly Dougherty marched with Cindy Sheehan from Mobile to New Orleans. Also marching from Colorado Springs were veterans Joe Hatcher, Jeff Peskoff, Ethan Crowell, Alan Skinner, and Vietnam Veterans Against the War co-founder Terry Leichner.

The March 14-19 Vets Gulf March marked the third anniversary of the war in Iraq and was meant to highlight the relationship between the misappropriation of resources for the illegal war and the woeful assistance given to the Katrina Hurricane victims. The Colorado Springs delegation left from Camp Casey on March 12.

Cindy Sheehan had sent her greetings through Andy Braunstein when he was in DC, now she’s got our peace cap. The TAKING THE FUN OUT OF WAR cap from Colorado Springs’ ragtag peace camp!

CPT captives released

CPT memorials on postThe three remaining CPT captives, held hostage since Novemember 27 have been freed.
 
On DAY 119 of their captivity, on DAY 106 or so of the vigil which we’ve kept every day at noon, the BBC has just reported that the three CPT hostages, English Norman Kember and Canadians Jim Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden, have been freed.

The news so far reports that they were liberated from their captors by a join military mission, the details and repercussions of which remain to be revealed. But it’s a happy day, the three CPT members are safe.

A little over a week ago, we learned that the fourth captive, American Tom Fox, had been killed. This was a fate which seemed improbable considering the mission of the Christian Peacemaker Team. They had been working without protection in Iraq to help families there negotiate for the release of their loved ones detained without due process in American prisons.

The memorial post we had erected for the CPT members will remain to shine the light on persons all over the world who are held in unlawful detainment. The post is still draped in black because of the death of Tom Fox, but soon we will raise another backdrop which will read: HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL CAPTIVES.

The noon vigil has proved itself to be an excellent touch stone for organizing our myriad other actions. It’s been an opportunity to stay apprised of the latest developments and strategies, and we’ve had occasion to be interviewed for three separate documentaries: one about American conscientious objectors who’ve removed themselves to Canada, another about the concept of Constantine’s Sword, and another about grassroots activism.

Banners make the news

See stills from the TV spotThe local NBC affiliate 5/30 did an excellent story involving Camp Casey. See the video clip here.
 
They covered our Sunday morning send-off of IVAW members who were leaving to join the March 14 peace march along the Gulf Coast. And they also gave our banners some visibility.

THERE IS NO WAR ON TERROR flies in the face of the Media worldview. Let’s dispell a couple of other media reported fallacies, too verbose for banners.

Dubai port scandal
The problem with a port takeover by a Dubai owned company has nothing to do with U.S. security, not as concerns terrorists. The takeover is part of the larger globalization move to privatize world infrastructure and enforce “free trade” subjugation.

The only tie-in with terrorism has to do with Dubai’s involvement with the 9/11 hijackers. Whoever let 9/11 happen, under the nose of the FBI, could make something happen again, out of reach of American security agencies, facilitated with Dubai’s complicity.

Samarra mosque bombing
Who is it that wants a civil war in Iraq? The quick and mutually diffused tensions following the mosque bombing suggests that Iraqis do not want a civil war.

Evidence is pointing to U.S. involvement in the destruction of the Golden Dome Shrine in Samarra. Residents are fighting US and UK efforts to begin rebuilding the dome before the forensic evidence can be analyzed to determine the real culprits behind the explosives.

Experts doubt that Sunnis were behind the destruction of a mosque which is revered by both Shia ad Sunni alike. Pious peoples do not behave that way. Even the troubles in Ireland never devolved to exploding each other’s churches.

Where in the world are there peoples so uncultured, so spiritually callous, so uneducated, insentitive and irreverant that they destroy their brother’s places of worship?

St. Patrick’s Day Parade peace infiltration

Photos by Mike Colleta of NewsBlab
(Sarah, Mimi, Amy, Evie, Lara, Ryan, Devon, Marie, David, Peter, Diann, Amber)
 
Our peaceful infiltration of the Old Colorado City St. Patricks Day Parade was great fun. We had to scale back our original plans for using the Peace Snake and the Blue Lady in favor of giving more visibility to our green peace t-shirts. Turnout for our peace contingent was affected by the cold and more specifically by a flu going around which hampered a number of families.

We were also handicapped by having to gather participants by word of mouth only. Our fear was that had any fliers been brought to the attention of parade organizers, we might have been thrown out of the parade before it even began. As it was, we waited to the last minute to don our t-shirts and to unfurl the banners. To the parade marshall’s credit, no one found our message objectionable, least of all the crowd.

The Old Colorado City crowd in attendance was very receptive to our march for peace. We carried two messages, the first in keeping with the bookmobile cover: “Education is the key to peace.” Lest that message have been thought too radical, we brought up the rear with a sentiment meant to sound familiar: “Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Photos by Mike Colleta of NewsBlab
(Eric, Mark, Pattie, Amy F., Pallas)

Why were we so cautious with our message? The terms of the contract for participating in the parade read: ABSOLUTELY NO PROMOTION OF SOCIAL ISSUES. Stated in two places, the second time underlined. The final condition made clear that all decisions by the parade organizers would be final.

The parade was full of politicians, candidates, military recruiters and veterans groups. In fact this year there was more red white and blue than there was green. We did not anticipate that they would dare to take issue with advocates for peace, but we were taking no chances. An effort days earlier to solicit participants from a local elementary school met with resistance. Our intention to wear peace signs was deemed too political. On that basis we were not allowed to distribute fliers there about the event.

Photos by Mike Colleta of NewsBlab
(Dennis, Steve, Amy and Hannah)

Address to the Democratic Party

I went to a Democratic party fund-raiser last night, the TRUE BLUE AMERICAN RALLY. I stood by the door most of the night and handed out fliers about tomorrow’s meeting to reclaim the media. I knew all of the politicians who spoke, I knew the evening’s organizers, somehow it didn’t occur to me until that evening to ask to make an announcement for the Monday meeting. Here are my notes:

Hello, my name is Eric Verlo. You may recognize me from my involvement with Camp Casey, the persistent little peace camp on North Nevada Avenue. Hello.

This organisation was gracious enough to let me come up here and talk to you tonight. I’m speaking on behalf of another organization, the Pikes Peak Media Alliance. We’re a little group, started three years ago, which has been trying to raise awareness about media literacy. A number of my fellow members are here tonight. We recognize that the media landscape is, and has been, slanted against the little guy, the average American actually, and we’ve undertaken the challenge to change that imbalance.

I’m here tonight to tell you of our latest effort, I’ll try to be brief. We’ve been fighting to try to bring more of a community voice to the local public radio station, you love it, we love it, our own KRCC. The effort is going to culminate -thus far- into a town-hall public forum which we’ve scheduled for Monday night at All Souls Unitarian Church. We’re hoping to see as big a turn-out as possible of course. This will be a chance for Joe and Jane Public to express something of the direction they hope to see from KRCC, to express it directly to its regents, its owners, Colorado College.

This effort to seek community input into KRCC programming arose from a more specific attempt to lobby KRCC to air the news program Democracy Now. If you haven’t heard of it, ask the person beside you, it’s an award winning news program whose popularity is growing station by station all over this country, it’s on 400 radio stations nation wide, including more than a dozen communities in Colorado, all the big ones, except Colorado Springs and Pueblo, because it’s not on KRCC.

You may have heard of our efforts. For three years we’ve been trying to petition Colorado College to overrule KRCC’s decision not to carry Democracy Now. For years before that, individuals had been calling KRCC to request it, only to be turned down flat. That went on so long, we decided we had to go over the station manager’s head.

You may have signed one of our petitions. Did you hear anything back? No one did. Well a friend of mine submitted his letter directly. He did receive an answer to his request for Democracy Now: a hand written note saying “Thank you for your thoughts on democracy.”

We tried it several times and this year we made a concerted effort and gathered over 250 petition letters, individual letters signed and personalized by members of our community. A number of times people told us, “I signed one of those a couple years ago. What, they still haven’t given us Democracy Now?” That statement reflects not just their incredulousness, but it reflects a disconnect about what’s happening on KRCC. A lot of the community -on our side of the issues- is no longer listening to KRCC.

This year we delivered those 250 petition letters, along with another 200 Colorado College student signatures to Colorado College on our knees. On our knees! Yes it was a dumb idea, we got the idea because we were starting from Camp Casey and it was only a short distance to the college president’s office. Well on your knees that distance becomes quite a bit more than a little! We did it for the publicity of course, but ideologically we did it to represent the desperate urgency we felt for the people of the world who are not represented by or in the media, the suffering majority whose voices go unheard, whose plight goes unabated in large part because the media ignores their fate, a media who is on the side of their oppressors, who is owned after all by their oppressors.

And so we made this impassioned public plea, Dave was there with me on his bare knees, Gary was there, we handed over our petitions, and heard nothing. Not a thing. No one who signed any of those letter received a reply. We heard through the grapevine that Colorado College was basically standing in support of the KRCC station manager’s decision. Only just a week ago or so, we all saw in the Independent, the article about KRCC and some confusion about its funding, where on the issue of Democracy Now, the college declared that it considered the request to have come from only a “small faction.”

So the meeting tomorrow night, excuse me, Monday night is going to be the showdown between the community represented by its small faction, and Colorado College. We’ve dropped the explicit request for Democracy Now in hope that the meeting will represent more voices from the community about what its concerns may be about KRCC. The issue isn’t so much about Democracy Now, it’s about how does a community express itself to one of its representatives, in this case a station manager who insists that Colorado Springs is populated by nothing but conservatives and easily-offended Luddites.

One of the ideas which could come up at Monday’s meeting will be the popular local news show Western Skies. Some thought by the recent funding disinformation circulated by KRCC, that Western Skies is on the chopping block. Nothing could be further from the truth, as attested by Colorado College president Dick Celeste’s letters to both the Gazette and the Independent. Western Skies puts together a half-hour news show twice a week. It’s very popular. Let’s hear how many of you like Western Skies! Well why not have that show on every day? Can you imagine the kind of coverage we could get for local happenings, local non-profit efforts, partisan efforts, even locally owned businesses, if we had local news on a daily basis? Let’s hear how many of you would favor that idea!

Okay, so I’m here tonight to ask you to bring that voice to the meeting on Monday. Colorado College is looking to see how serious we are about speaking as a community. We’ve got to show them on Monday night.

Let me just say that I believe that the political battle begins with the media. We’ve got to reclaim the media if we are to achieve even a portion of our political goals this year, or ever. And by political goals, I’m talking about saving our country of course, about an agenda to tackle social inequality, to provide a safety net, to save our civil rights, to rescue really is what I mean, to rescue our right to elect a government which represents us. All those things. We are not going to win on those issues if we cannot take our case to the American people. It doesn’t matter how much money we raise to pay the media to carry our message, if the media wants to spin our message in the favor of its owners, of the upper business corporate class, there’s nothing of our message that is going to get through to the people.

A friend of mine was telling me tonight, she’s not very political. She doesn’t see much point to political parties. They’re divisive she says. She would prefer that politicians would brush aside political affiliations and sit down together to work out solutions for the American people.

Now you being fairly active, or activated, political Democrats probably see the naivety of her argument. Let me explain why I think she’s being idealistic and I’d like to see if you agree with me.

If politicians were civil servants indeed sitting down to work out solutions, that would be one thing. But we know that’s not the case. With the division of Republicans and Democrats are two groups sitting down, one of whom has their hands at the levers, making the trouble, and the other side, our side, is trying to undo it. Am I right on this point? The Republican, let’s call them the corporate cheap-labor, landowner party is trying to get away with whatever it can, and the Democratic party is left to try to to fight for the diminishing power of the rest of the world’s population. Is that right? Do I have that right?

Now accusations can be made that a number of the Democrats are fighting on the side of the landowners. And frankly I believe it. I know just enough about how politics does not work, to ask the silly question, can’t we get rid of those Democrats? Can’t we just expel them? Let ’em be Republicans if they want to so badly. We don’t need to be putting our grassroots efforts into backing their turncoat behavior. Anyway, that’s my opinion. I feel that way about torture, about the war, about health care, about the environment, about civil rights, about judicial review and the balance of power keeping the executive branch from acting like a dictatorship.

Now I will assert that we need a media which will reflect this battle for what it is. If we want to preserve this democracy, we have to have a democracy. We have to reach the American public, and we need to reach them with a level, balanced message.

I’ve spoken passionately, but you know that I haven’t spoken out of line, I haven’t exaggerated the situation, have I? Have I? I believe I’ve represented an objective concern for where this country is going. We need a media which will do that.

We have to reclaim this media, and we can start with the only place we have even a toehold and that’s public radio. Please come on Monday night to speak out for the reform we need. The airwaves belong to us. They’re like the public libraries, like the public lands set aside to preserve -in England they’re called the Public Trust. The public airwaves belong to us, and they need to speak for us. Please come!

Thank you!