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Sightings of a new national bird

Posted Mar 29, 2017

By Jim Hannah

Pity the bald eagle.

Yes, it’s enjoyed a recovery from near-extinction. But now it faces obsolescence, replaced by a modern “national bird”—the armed drone.

Whereas the bald eagle may range over thousands of acres, its metallic counterpart can easily reach out thousands of miles to “tap” (or even “double tap”) its prey.

Yes, amazingly, the bald eagle can soar to heights of several hundred feet and swoop down at great speed. But the new national bird has an integrated web of satellites circling the globe miles high, to rain instant laser-guided death from above.

And then there’s the matter of visibility. While bald eagles can be sighted only in parts of North America, stirring emotions of patriotic pride, the new national bird is gaining recognition world-wide, striking fear as a symbol of US military reach (and overreach).

A new film documentary, National Bird, highlights the way armed drones have increasingly become the symbol of the United States and its commanding military presence throughout the world.

One of the three former drone personnel featured in the film is whistleblower Lisa Ling, who served in the military for 20 years and spoke in Kansas City March 12 at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.

Lisa Ling —Photo by Jim Hannah

“Drones are terror,” she said, describing how a visit to Afghanistan opened her eyes to the human cost of the drone program. “If you’re a child gardening with your grandmother in Afghanistan and hear the click-click of a drone, you don’t know when you or your loved ones may be dead. 24-7, you’re afraid of the sky.” The number of civilian deaths from drone strikes is under-reported, Ling said, because persons in proximity to alleged or actual combatants are deemed to themselves be targetable terrorists.

Ling said that she was very hospitably received by her Afghan hosts. “I think the drone program is unforgivable,” she said, “but my hosts forgave me, even though I didn’t ask them to. What they did ask was, ‘Could you please stop killing our Afghan civilians?’”

Drone operators, Ling said, are a very small part of the overall drone program. She herself served as a United States Air Force technical sergeant and was told on receiving her honorable discharge that her work helped identify more than 121,000 targets in two years. She now describes that work as “hunting humans,” saying that she, and many other drone personnel, bear the burden of war. “I lost part of my humanity” in the drone program, she said, noting that one of her colleagues had committed suicide.

Ling strongly stressed that military bases are not the best targets for peace activists. Many of the “dronies,” drone operators, she said, were young and just looking for a way to better themselves or support their families. A better target for activism, she said, would be corporations that hugely profit from drone warfare, and legislators who approve drone funding.

In speaking to her All Souls and PeaceWorks audience, Ling urged the peace activists to become fully informed so their actions would not have unintended consequences, and stressed that today’s activists need to move beyond 1960s approaches to find new, unpredictable strategies not easily neutralized. Many of the efforts used after the Vietnam War are no longer applicable today because of how well they worked then; countermeasures now dilute those steps, said Ling. “The most important thing is that we all need to start talking about military drone warfare to remove this topic from the shadows. We are all only as sick as our secrets.”

—Jim Hannah belongs to the PeaceWorks, KC, board.

Note: Perhaps the U.S. should reconsider Benjamin Franklin’s recommendation that the wild turkey be the national bird. At least it’s not a predator…!

See At the River I Stand on 4/4

Posted Mar 29, 2017

Stand Up KC is showing the 1993 documentary At the River I Stand on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination—April 4—at 7 pm at the Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18 th St., KC, MO. A candlelight vigil will follow the film.

The award-winning documentary portrays the last two months of King’s life and the struggle of 1,300 sanitation workers in Memphis. As Stand Up KC continues pushing for $15 an hour for low-income workers, and a union, it is commemorating King’s life and legacy through this film. “Dr. King was calling for $2 an hour; that would be $15 today,” says Zachary Mueller, a Stand Up KC organizer. The Facebook page for Stand Up KC notes, “In an era of increasing division, bigotry, and violent hate, we come together to breathe new life into Dr. King’s vision of ‘Beloved Community’ of black, white, and brown Americans organizing together as one people who share a common destiny.”

RSVP for free tickets at or 816-547-5969.

Stand Up KC caps years of work with victory rally

Posted Mar 2, 2017

By Brother Louis Rodemann

On Feb. 16, Stand Up KC held a “victory” march and rally at a local Hardee’s fast food restaurant. The day before, Andrew Puzder, CEO of the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., had stepped down as President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor. This concluded a sustained two-month nationwide campaign. The number of cities and the size of the rallies grew with the evolving uncovering of a catalogue of labor injustices: multiple charges of racial and sexual harassment, low wages, wage theft, part-time schedules, sporadic hours and lack of benefits.

This specific campaign is the most recent of a four-year movement begun by workers in New York in November 2012. Stand Up KC participated in commemorating the fourth anniversary on Nov. 29, 2016, with hundreds of workers and allies rallying at 63 rd  and Paseo, then marching to Meyer and Troost, site of a McDonald’s restaurant, where 108 persons sat and blocked traffic in that intersection. All were arrested and charged with disobeying an officer—failing to stand up and disperse. The date for a hearing continues to be postponed.

In the KC metro area, during the last few years, there have been multiple rallies and marches, with workers walking out on strike at fast food restaurants, struggling and advocating fair wages and just working conditions—$15 per hour and a union. Recently other workers have joined: day care, health care, untenured teachers, airline baggage handlers, and others.

A major and ongoing campaign, Stand Up KC workers and allies are working with Mayor Sly James and the KC City Council to approve a minimum hourly pay raise to $15. After multiple hearings of worker testimonies, the Council approved a graduated pay raise over several years. In short order, the state of Missouri declared this decision unconstitutional. On appeal, that decision was recently overturned, and the minimum wage issue will be on the August 2017 ballot.

To learn more, how to get involved, where and when for the next event, go to

—Christian Brother Louis Rodemann has participated in Stand Up KC rallies, has accompanied a striking worker back to the job the next day, has been arrested and processed for civil resistance, and went on the Stand Up KC bus to St. Louis to protest the candidacy of Puzder.

—Editor’s note: Stand Up KC received the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award from PeaceWorks in March 2017.

Videos show rally for Chelsea Manning

Posted Mar 2, 2017

Two videos on YouTube show the PeaceWorks rally Nov. 20 for clemency for Chelsea Manning. About 55 persons gathered outside Fort Leavenworth (in Kansas), where Chelsea (formerly Bradley) is serving a 35-year sentence for releasing material to WikiLeaks in 2010 about US atrocities in the Iraq & Afghanistan wars. We stood for Chelsea, truth-teller, who was in so much difficulty in Fort Leavenworth that she tried twice to commit suicide last year. President Obama commuted her sentence in January; her release is set for May 17. 

The first video, about 1 minute long, shows Col. Ann Wright calling for clemency for Chelsea. “We’re here at Fort Leavenworth to say to the U.S. government that Chelsea Manning, who’s already been in prison for over 6½ years, deserves clemency,” said Wright. “Chelsea has attempted suicide twice. She is in a very delicate emotional and mental state, and she needs support.”

The second video, about 9 minutes long, features Caroline Gibbs, who offers counseling and a website for Transgender people, and JoAnna, who endured about 8 years in a state prison for men while transitioning to her female identity. “I can tell you a little bit about what, probably, Chelsea Manning is going through,” said JoAnna. Chelsea has occasionally been put in solitary, and JoAnna noted, “It’s very mentally damaging to not be able to have social interaction with people.”

Many thanks to videographer Susan Sarachek and editor David Hahen.

PeaceWorks is trying to contact Chelsea and her lawyers to see what is an appropriate way to celebrate Chelsea’s expected release May 17.


Isn’t the oath of office about the Constitution?

And who here votes for Trump’s cabinet members?

At a forum cosponsored by PeaceWorks-KC and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church on Inauguration Day, PeaceWorks leaders asked whether Trump pays heed at all to the Constitution and whether forum participants would, indeed, vote in favor of Trump’s picks for the cabinet.

Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks board and an All Souls member, said (see his talk), “The Presidential Oath of Office says the person elected ‘will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ Mr. Trump never during his campaign has vowed to protect the Constitution, the People, and all that entails. It appears that Mr. Trump wants to do his own thing, and we fear that he thinks he is above the Law.”

Henry Stoever and Lu Mountenay stood with about 40 others at a rally at JC Nichols Fountain on the Plaza right before the forum. —Jim Hannah photos

Addressing the forum, titled “AfterSHOCK! The Community Responds to the Trump Effects,” Stoever said, “We have a lot of work to do if we are to be a government of the people, for the people, by the people!”

Lu Mountenay, vice chair of the PeaceWorks board, said (see her talk), “Let’s open the Trump CORPORATE Cabinet and look inside, if we can stand the shock, and see who our new leader has picked. Then as citizens—not senators—we’ll vote to see who’s left standing. Ours may be a mock hearing, but the real hearing is a mockery of democracy.”

For example, Mountenay noted, about Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, “Listen to the words of Jeff Sessions: ‘The NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference are un-American and they work to force civil rights down the throats of people.’” She asked for those in favor of Sessions to say yes. Silence. Then she asked for those opposed to say no. “No!” filled the church.

Concerning Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, Mountenay said, “The president of the Michigan Board of Education said of the billionaire, the ‘DeVos agenda is to break the public education system, not educate kids, and then replace it with a for-profit model.’” Mountenay added, “Seems to me, then we would not only have a military-industrial complex and a prison-industrial complex, but we would also have an education-industrial complex.” She asked those in favor of DeVos to say yes. Silence. Mountenay asked those opposed to spell N-O. Forum participants called out, “N-O!”

Moving on to Secretary of Energy nominee Rick Perry, Mountenay said, “A Perry campaign feature was to abolish the DOE.” Mountenay asked, “He didn’t know until he was told this week that one of the DOE responsibilities is nuclear arsenal security and nuclear waste cleanup? OOPS!” She asked those in favor of Perry to head the DOE to say yes. Silence. She asked those opposed to say, “OOPS! No!” and they did, resoundingly.

After calling for votes on another four nominees, Mountenay concluded, “The Citizens’ Cabinet Confirmation Hearings are adjourned. The people have spoken. O Lord, hear our prayer!”

Editor’s note: The Kansas City Star, on Jan. 21, covering the PeaceWorks/All Souls rally and forum, said PeaceWorks “chose not to listen to the inauguration because members are so dismayed at Trump’s positions. Instead, they chose to invite speakers to deliver what (Henry) Stoever called a more positive message.” In addition, “I think it’s so important that the public be a watchdog on Mr. Trump,” Stoever said on Fox 4 TV News Jan. 20. “Because so many things have come up. Conflicts of interest and he kind of wants to do his thing his own way. And he’s never been in government.” Other AfterSHOCK! stories give more reports on the forum.

—By Jane Stoever and Lu Mountenay

After Shock! A Community Response to Trump

Photos from the AfterSHOCK events by Jim Hannah. See them on our Flickr page:


Forum ponders racism, immigration

“I don’t have to remind you Donald Trump discriminates against Muslims and makes fun of disabled Americans. He categorically believes Black people are lazy and Mexicans are criminals and rapists. But as people of color, we have always been under attack. This is not new to us,” Justice said (see her talk) at the PeaceWorks/All Souls forum Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.

Justice, of One Struggle KC

A core organizer in One Struggle KC, seeking justice for all (black, brown, all), Justice said, “We will remain a target as long as racist systems of oppression—that allow the Donald Trumps of the world to excel to the highest office without substance or credential—are in place. To combat the Trump agenda, we need you to support our work.”

How? Justice explained, “White folks could join SURJ—Showing Up for Racial Justice,” a group of whites seeking leadership from people of color. Asked to comment on police brutality, Justice said, “My people have been under attack, under police brutality (for generations). I’ve talked to people (in KC) who’ve been beaten. We’ve engaged with the family of Ryan Stokes to seek justice after he was shot (fatally shot in 2013). The KCPD told his family he had to be shot in the chest. That was not the case.”

Also urging groups to cross color lines, forum speaker Bette Tate-Beaver (see excerpts from her talk) recalled President Obama’s last tweet while he was in office: “I am still asking you to believe in hope.” Tate-Beaver affirmed, “We have to believe we can effect change. I’m a Native American and an African-American. This has never been a ‘kinder, gentler’ country.”

A leader in the National Association for Multicultural Education, or NAME, Tate-Beaver noted, “The majority of our kids in public schools are people of color or live in poverty.” However, Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has for decades lobbied for charter schools and tax-funded vouchers for religious and other private schools. Tate-Beaver said, “If her interest is in funding private schools, we have to make it clear not only is this not acceptable, she is not acceptable. Contact members of Congress—your own and others on congressional committees. We have to work across faith lines, across ethnicity lines, across economic lines. We have to make noise!”

Lewis Diuguid

Lewis Diuguid, author of Discovering the Real America: Toward a More Perfect Union and former columnist for The Kansas City Star, clarified, “What we are seeing in the Trump cabinet is millionaires, billionaires, and the military.” However, he reminded the forum that George W. Bush became president in 2001 with a pro-military campaign, and after 9/11, “many people in this room spoke out, stood up—it took years,” but it became clear the wars in the aftermath of 9/11 were deplorable.

Diuguid’s challenge: “What we need to look at in Trump’s presidency is energizing those efforts that went away in the last few years, so we do have a voice.”

Immigration lawyer Angela Ferguson told the forum participants of the fears of immigrants she knows who are not yet documented citizens. “Some families are already making plans to leave the country,” she said (see her talk). She outlined steps to take, including:

Fatima Mohammedi and Angela Ferguson speak at the forum.

Fatima Mohammedi of Citizens for Justice in the Middle East said at the forum, “Muslims have been here since the horrendous days of economic slavery. Muslims have many concerns in addition to immigration and deportation, such as health care, reproductive rights, the environment. At the end of the day, if we go down, we all go down together on the sinking ship of this administration … the apocalypse that’s happening right now. The United States has participated in hundreds of wars (attacking) persons of color. We’ve ripped the environment apart for corporate gain. We are far from a nation that can pride itself on liberty and justice for all” (see excerpts from her talk).

—By Jane Stoever and Lu Mountenay


Forum addresses GLBTQ rights, health care, peace concerns, climate emergency, labor issues, ACLU activism

The Rev. Kendyl Gibbons of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church welcomed about 100 persons to the PeaceWorks/All Souls forum on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. She said (see her talk), “I am proud this morning to reaffirm our commitment to the freedom, safety, and dignity of our gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and queer neighbors and loved ones, and all who support them. Our government must not allow discrimination in housing, employment, medical care, or any other form, against gay, lesbian, or transgender people. We reject the premise that such unjust practices represent religious freedom. We will not allow our queer sisters and brothers and neighbors, and ourselves, to be returned to closets of ignorance, rejection, hatred, and fear. … No president, or administration, has the right to diminish any of our people, and we commit ourselves today to the struggle against oppression in every form.”

Rev. Kendyl Gibbons

David Kingsley, Ph.D., a former professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, said (see his talk), “Let’s be a little wonky and discuss the medical/loss ratio, the ratio of actual medical services provided by an insurer to the amount of money skimmed off for salaries, advertising, shareholder dividends, and other expenses involved in administration of health insurance. That ratio in the health insurance industry is generally between 60/40 and 80/20. This means that under the best scenario, 80 percent of premium dollars are devoted to actual medical services and 20 percent are devoted to administration. (But in Medicare) the medical/loss ratio is 98.5/1.5. In other words, the administration cost of Medicare is only 1.5 percent of revenue from the payroll tax, Social Security deductions (Part B), and other premiums. … We all must become advocates for single-payer health care such as a Medicare for All program.”

Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, MD, reminded the forum that Frances Perkins told Franklin D. Roosevelt she would be his Secretary of Labor if he would support eight initiatives, including child labor regulations, social security, unemployment insurance, and a national health care plan. “The national health care plan was the only one she was not able to get implemented,” said Huet-Vaughn. “We have the ability to cover all Americans with health care. The proliferation of insurers makes a headache for health providers, who spend hours wrangling with the insurers. A national health plan would cost less, would frustrate us less, and would give everyone better quality of life.” In 2010, she said, the average cost for health care for Americans was $8,000, and for the French, with “the Cadillac of health care,” was $3,500 per capita. She blasted the U.S. system as “chaotic—a for-profit system for insurers and pharmaceutical companies.”

Ira Harritt of the American Friends Service Committee listed dangers we face, including (see his talk):

Dave Pack, treasurer of the PeaceWorks board, said (see his talk), “Suppose the Trump Administration arrives in Washington championing a hawkish agenda highlighted by a major nuclear weapons buildup and loose talk of waging and winning a nuclear war. If enough people demand it, that intended policy can be turned around.” Why the hope? Well, said Pack, in the 1980s, popular opposition to Reagan’s planned hawkish policies forced a complete change in policy, with Reagan joining the march toward a nuclear-free world. Pack added that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), at, provides information on the ban effort and lets people e-mail the U.S. ambassador to the UN to ask the U.S. to participate this year in UN negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

Craig Wolfe of Kansas Sierra Club noted, “We started out calling this the climate crisis. We shifted to climate change. I’ve escalated it now to climate emergency.” Continued use of fossil fuels will bring more flooding, wildfires, and superstorms. On the flip side, he said wind power can supply the world’s needs for energy 40 times over, and “enough sun energy hits our planet in one hour to supply our energy needs for a year.” He insisted, “We’ve got to get climate deniers out of government and get legislators bought by (the) fossil fuel (industry) out of government.” More ideas: “We’ve got to lessen our over-consuming of the planet! Get your energy supplied by renewable electrons. Lease a solar site or add solar panels to your buildings. Wear three layers of clothes in winter and use fans in summer. Stop building cars and planes.” Finally, “There is hope if we mobilize!”

Judy Ancel, Director of Labor Studies at UMKC and executive producer of the Heartland Labor Forum on KKFI 90.1 FM, admitted (see her talk), “I came here with a mounting sense of dread. If fear for many of us but especially for our immigrant communities. Trump and Company know they’re not popular. They will act swiftly and lock in their rule as fast as they can. We must be ready to oppose.  All of us need to take up one another’s issues and take up our own!”

She continued, “What we’re seeing is direct corporate rule of the United States and the world. … The Missouri legislature is poised to pass right to work. It’s a blatant appeal to selfishness, saying you can get all your representation (as a worker) free, without paying union dues. It aims at bankrupting unions and dividing the workplace,” said Ancel. “We all need to oppose right to work because all working people, whether union or not, will be affected.”

Sara Baker of the American Civil Liberties Union said (see excerpts from her talk) the ACLU is ready to litigate on critical topics, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In addition, “We have to fight for transgender people in Kansas and Missouri; we’re prepared to do so,” said Baker. She highlighted a bill pending that would limit refugee placement in Missouri without the consent of the General Assembly. Another bill may be introduced to require driver’s licenses to note the person’s country of citizenship. Legislators may also decide to increase barricades used against protesters, she said. For the 17 th year, legislators will introduce a non-discrimination act and try to get it passed. In addition, ACLU supports legislation to prohibit bias policing. Baker asked people to volunteer with ACLU, to write state legislators, and to come to Jefferson City on Feb. 28, ACLU lobby day, to talk directly with legislators.

Jim Hannah, wrapping up the forum (see his talk), suddenly blew a whistle. “Hear that whistle?” he asked. “The train’s pulling out of the station!” He asked all the forum participants, about 100 persons, “Take courage in the testimony of Martin Luther King, who lived (and died) in the conviction that ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’” Hannah asked the forum attendees, in this new year, to be newly resolute … resolute to discern fact from falsehood, resolute to protect our Bill of Rights, “resolute to resist, to speak up, to act up nonviolently whenever and wherever freedom and equality are under attack.”

Then Hannah called out, “The train is pulling out, brothers and sisters, all abooooard!” And he blew the whistle one last time.

—By Jane Stoever and Lu Mountenay

"Aftershock: The Community Responds to the Trump Effects," at Plaza & All Souls

Event flier

Posted Jan 12, 2017

Please come to "Aftershock: The Community Responds to the Trump Effects," on Friday, January 20 (Inauguration Day).

We'll rally at Mill Creek Park, at Cleaver & Main, from 9 to 10:30 am, and we'll hold a forum at All Souls, in Conover, from 10:30 am to about noon.

We'll speak up on topics such as the environment, civil rights, minority rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, women's rights, all things threatened in the current political climate.

We'll hold a mock cabinet confirmation hearing.

We'll stand for truth!

And for info, call Henry Stoever at 913-206-4088 or email



Click on the flier for a full-size version to share.

The US Drone War: An Insider Speaks Out

Posted Nov 30, 2016

By Joseph Wun

The commending sheet declared that he had contributed to 200 enemy kills. Such a praiseworthy certificate set upon his desk unsettled in Cian Westmoreland a small, potent question: “Who were these people?”

Cian Westmoreland stood before his audience, 70 gathered Dec. 16 at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Kansas City, MO. He exhaled truth with calm, deliberate resolution. The former Air Force operative shared his knowledge and experience from participant to now-outspoken whistleblower of the US drone program. Westmoreland sketched a broad structure of how the drone program works, offering and dispelling explanatory fictions about its ethics, efficacy, and existence. His dress of black jeans and black “Veterans for Peace” shirt mirrored his unadorned, instructive, and substantive speech.

Westmoreland reminded the gathered that while the snake-headed aircraft drones are infamous icons, they are only the most highly visible parts of drone warfare. His office in the Air Force was to establish and maintain the communications infrastructure that enables the planes to fly, and to receive their target information. The crafts are like a personal computer mouse—a necessary piece of hardware ornamental without a computing, operating system. He emphasized this fact as an entrance to resistance domestic and international, noting in particular two US bases located in Italy and Germany, each of which are essential to the drone program's viability. Without them, the program as it exists could not operate. The work of these bases, then, present two “points of failure,” areas of systemic vulnerability on which to focus attention and pressure.

Despite the purported scrutiny to make a kill-decision, Westmoreland noted that the favor tips to delivering payloads over deliberating the probity of the situation. The reports of human beings murdered by incidental or accidental target—think especially of mass gatherings like weddings and funerals—are acceptable loss. More often than not, our informant noted, proximity is complicity. Anyone anywhere near a purported enemy is encompassed in the blast of bombs to come. Surgical strike is a nonsense term, as Westmoreland reminded us that the multi-layered decision-making is filtered to suit confirmation, rather than refutation. Fire, then ask (if at all). The tools of surveillance are degrees; these data at-a- distance complement a vicious, efficient logic when coupled with the institutional and situational ethos to deliver (read: to kill). 

And this deliverance comes to a nation apathetic by ignorance not only of the drone program itself, but of critical history concerning the United States. Westmoreland, along with a chorus of audience members, recognized the need for more activist teaching and learning in noting the legacies and intersections of militarism. (Of recent note: Westmoreland himself had recently come from Standing Rock, where drones are humming overhead.)

We must be vigilant in our reading, writing, and sharing, deep in our listening, and willing to bear witness with those like Cian. We must seek out those points of failure. Then, we must press.

—Joseph Wun, a board member for PeaceWorks-KC, belongs to the Jerusalem Farm community in KC, MO.

Rally and petition seek freedom for whistleblower Chelsea Manning

Posted Dec 1, 2016

By Mary Hladky

Roughly 50 PeaceWorks members and friends rallied outside Fort Leavenworth in Kansas Nov. 20 in support of Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning’s petition to President Obama to reduce her sentence to time served—6 years. Manning is incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth.

A small part of Sunday's rally. -Photo by Lu Mountenay

Manning gave thousands of diplomatic and military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, intending to raise awareness about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Supporters claim that the information she released was already known to US enemies and was classified to keep it from the American public. Some of the documents and videos revealed US soldiers’ atrocities against civilians. Manning has already served more time than any convicted leaker in US history.

The rally was led by Henry Stoever of PeaceWorks and retired US Army Col. Ann Wright, who resigned from the US State Department in March 2003 to protest the US-led invasion of Iraq. “This is our last, best chance to get Chelsea out of prison, before Trump becomes president,” said Wright.

We at the rally were also honored to have speakers Brian Terrell, Dr. Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, Joanna, and Chase Strangio to help us understand important issues facing Manning as she seeks her freedom.

Terrell, of Maloy, IA, said he had seen the Gulag museum in Russia, with a 1950s detention cell and displays for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov. “With incarceration rates rising 70 percent in the last 40 years, someday there’s going to be a museum of hypoincarceration in the United States,” he predicted. “A special part of the museum will be devoted to Chelsea. She doesn’t need a pardon from President Obama, but thanks!”

Huet-Vaughn refused to deploy to the first Iraq War, served 9 months in the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, and currently treats several transgender persons. Joanna is a transgender activist and local counselor who has spent years in prison. Both addressed the hardships, shame, and unjust treatment Manning experiences as a woman in a men’s facility. Manning has attempted suicide twice and has been punished with time in solitary confinement for her desperation. In fact, the speakers said, solitary confinement is in direct opposition to her needs as a transgender person; a person who is transitioning is very fragile and needs quality care, counseling, socialization, and appropriate medications. Chase Strangio, Manning’s attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, was scheduled to meet face-to- face with Manning the next day. He is very concerned about the harsh conditions she is enduring, and expressed his fear that she won’t survive much longer under these conditions. Strangio texted Stoever after seeing Manning to say he let her know of our work and she is very grateful for all the efforts people are making for her freedom.

—Drawing by Alicia Neal

Everyone at PeaceWorks, and all in attendance at the rally, want Manning to know that despite the treatment she is enduring, it was our privilege to stand with her at this rally.

We encourage all our supporters to join us and thousands of others in asking President Obama to release Chelsea Manning on time served. Please sign the petition at

Notes: Mary Hladky is a PeaceWorks-KC board member and a leader in the KC chapter of the American Friends Service Committee.

The US Drone War: An Insider Speaks Out

Posted Nov 30, 2016

By Joseph Wun

The commending sheet declared that he had contributed to 200 enemy kills. Such a praiseworthy certificate set upon his desk unsettled in Cian Westmoreland a small, potent question: “Who were these people?”

Cian Westmoreland stood before his audience, 70 gathered Dec. 16 at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Kansas City, MO. He exhaled truth with calm, deliberate resolution. The former Air Force operative shared his knowledge and experience from participant to now-outspoken whistleblower of the US drone program. Westmoreland sketched a broad structure of how the drone program works, offering and dispelling explanatory fictions about its ethics, efficacy, and existence. His dress of black jeans and black “Veterans for Peace” shirt mirrored his unadorned, instructive, and substantive speech.

Westmoreland reminded the gathered that while the snake-headed aircraft drones are infamous icons, they are only the most highly visible parts of drone warfare. His office in the Air Force was to establish and maintain the communications infrastructure that enables the planes to fly, and to receive their target information. The crafts are like a personal computer mouse—a necessary piece of hardware ornamental without a computing, operating system. He emphasized this fact as an entrance to resistance domestic and international, noting in particular two US bases located in Italy and Germany, each of which are essential to the drone program's viability. Without them, the program as it exists could not operate. The work of these bases, then, present two “points of failure,” areas of systemic vulnerability on which to focus attention and pressure.

Despite the purported scrutiny to make a kill-decision, Westmoreland noted that the favor tips to delivering payloads over deliberating the probity of the situation. The reports of human beings murdered by incidental or accidental target—think especially of mass gatherings like weddings and funerals—are acceptable loss. More often than not, our informant noted, proximity is complicity. Anyone anywhere near a purported enemy is encompassed in the blast of bombs to come. Surgical strike is a nonsense term, as Westmoreland reminded us that the multi-layered decision-making is filtered to suit confirmation, rather than refutation. Fire, then ask (if at all). The tools of surveillance are degrees; these data at-a- distance complement a vicious, efficient logic when coupled with the institutional and situational ethos to deliver (read: to kill). 

And this deliverance comes to a nation apathetic by ignorance not only of the drone program itself, but of critical history concerning the United States. Westmoreland, along with a chorus of audience members, recognized the need for more activist teaching and learning in noting the legacies and intersections of militarism. (Of recent note: Westmoreland himself had recently come from Standing Rock, where drones are humming overhead.)

We must be vigilant in our reading, writing, and sharing, deep in our listening, and willing to bear witness with those like Cian. We must seek out those points of failure. Then, we must press.

—Joseph Wun, a board member for PeaceWorks-KC, belongs to the Jerusalem Farm community in KC, MO.

Rally for Chelsea Manning at 2pm Sunday, Nov. 20

Posted Nov 8, 2016

Chelsea Manning —Drawing by Alicia Neal

Join a public witness on behalf of Chelsea Manning at 2 pm Sunday, Nov. 20, at Fort Leavenworth’s main entry. Chelsea released classified materials to WikiLeaks about US atrocities in Iraq and elsewhere and is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth. She tried to commit suicide in July and, after a period of medical supervision, was put into solitary confinement as punishment for the suicide attempt. Her supporters say the difficulty of enduring solitary led her, last month, to again try to end her life. On her behalf, Col. Ann Wright, has called for “a national mobilization at Fort Leavenworth,” to call for her to be released from isolation. Join Col. Ann and PeaceWorks-KC at 2 pm to speak up for Chelsea! Carpools will leave KC, MO, area at 1pm from two sites:

For info: Call Henry Stoever, 913-375-0045, or the PeaceWorks office, 816-561-1181.

(The main Fort Leavenworth entry gate is near Metropolitan and N. 10th St. in Leavenworth, KS.)

Talk Nov. 16—y’all come!

Hear The US Drone War: An Insider Speaks Out on Nov 16

Posted Nov 8, 2016

Cian Westmoreland, a former US Air Force drone program technician, is one of four drone experts who began their truth-telling to the public last year. Come hear him at a free talk sponsored by PeaceWorks-KC on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 7 pm at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, in KC, Mo.

“In this war on terror, we have become terror,” says Westmoreland. “Drones are heartless, and the act of killing through them can become routine.” He advocates peaceful alternatives to drone warfare and perpetual war.

Cian Westmoreland

As a member of the Air Force, Westmoreland helped build the communications infrastructure for the drone program in Afghanistan. As they say in the Air Force, he notes: “No comms, no bombs.” Westmoreland, who is coping with PTSD, was one of four drone experts who signed an open letter to President Obama proclaiming that US drone attacks, which have killed thousands of civilians, have served as recruitment tools for ISIS and other terrorist groups rather than curtailing wars. In 2009, Westmoreland was offered a $50,000 bonus to re-enlist, but he turned it down. Over the past year, he has given talks around the world urging an end to US belligerence. Come hear his unique insights.

The Kansas City talk is part of Westmoreland’s Missouri tour, co-sponsored by MU Peace Studies, Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), PeaceWorks-KC, Veterans for Peace, William Woods University Legal Studies Program, and Mid-Missouri PeaceWorks (partial list).

Ann Suellentrop, a PeaceWorks board member, says stepping forward as a whistleblower has been very difficult for those who’ve dared to do it, and morally imperative.

For more information, contact PeaceWorks-KC, 816-561-1181, and on Facebook, PeaceWorks.KC.

Pursuing peace on international, interfaith levels

Posted Nov 23, 2016

By Lu Mountenay

Drs. Matthew Bolton and Emily Welty – two academics and anti-nuclear activists living in New York City – are serious about their commitment to making the world a better place. In their engagement in 2006, they committed not only to each other but to work for a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world. Three years ago, they discussed what they should be doing to fulfill their marriage vow to make the world a better place.

They decided they should help ban nuclear weapons.

On Oct. 27, part of that vow was realized when they watched a committee of the United Nations General Assembly vote overwhelmingly to start negotiations in 2017 on a treaty banning nuclear weapons (123 nations voted in favor of the resolution, with 38 against and 16 abstaining).

If the resolution passes a vote in December by the General Assembly Plenary, the UN will set up a conference to meet in New York in March, and in late June and early July to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”

Dr. Matthew Bolton

Bolton, associate chair of political science at Pace University in New York, is a former resident of the Kansas City area, where his parents still reside. Matthew is an expert on multilateral disarmament policy-making.

“This resolution has the potential to be the most significant development since the end of the Cold War,” said Bolton in a briefing for the UN Correspondents Association. “At a time of crisis in multilateral action, this resolution stands out as a potential for us to revive confidence in the United Nations system.” The resolution provides “an approach to international affairs that is inclusive, that is open to concerns, interests, and values of all states, all peoples, not just the few who threaten the rest of the World with catastrophic violence.”

Welty directs peace and justice studies at Pace University and is vice moderator of the World Council of Churches Commission on International Affairs. “As people of faith, we must act with courage and a clear moral drive to call on all people of conscience to speak out against the forces of violence that divide us,” Welty said in a statement to the press about the resolution. “Despite the rich differences in our faith traditions, it is extremely significant that we are united in our clear denouncement of nuclear weapons and our fervent belief that banning nuclear weapons is a prophetic step towards making the world a safer place for all humanity.”

In a phone call about the UN resolution, I told Bolton that PeaceWorks-KC sponsors a Hiroshima/Nagasaki remembrance annually around August 6. He replied with the good news that President Truman’s grandson, Clifton Truman Daniels, supports the resolution.

Many countries have citizens that believe in a nuclear-free world, but their governments are lagging behind. Bolton and Welty feel this is an indicator of something bigger on the international level—that every major achievement or moment of progress for arms control has come about by pressure from smaller, developing countries, and their activism. There is a tendency for the nuclear arms states to take credit for progress on nuclear arms reduction, even though they are the ones with the nuclear arsenals. It is a reminder, suggested Bolton, that often powerful people take credit for things actually done by people less powerful. We may have felt this at the interpersonal level, and it is now happening at the global level.

Dr. Emily Welty

Bolton and Welty acknowledge that some say the idea of the ban is unrealistic. “But states often do give up, restrict, or avoid certain methods of warfare. It happens. Chemical weapons are banned; biological weapons, land mines and cluster bombs are banned,” said Bolton. He offers the analogy of slavery. “The ban on slavery happened before slave owners agreed it was a good thing. The ban happened first, and elimination of slavery came later. In the history of abolition of certain classes of weapons, the state gives up the weapon after the weapon has become stigmatized and taboo—generally not before. States are incredibly sensitive to internal pressure. Media, civil society, academia, faith networks, and global public opinion has shifted against nuclear weapons.”

The passing of this resolution will show that governments are beginning to catch up, said Bolton. “This is the moment for anyone who wants protest the proliferation of nuclear weapons, this is your chance to support a cause with significant impact. It’s incredibly exciting.”

By this time next year, Welty and Bolton hope we will have a ban on nuclear weapons.

To learn more, visit the website of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons:

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a coalition of 440 organizations in almost 100 countries, has taken a leading role in the call for a ban. Besides ICAN, the resolution was supported by the Red Cross, 15 Nobel Peace laureates, medical associations, unions, and parliamentarians from around the world. It has also generated widespread support from faith leaders.

Gun Violence--The Culture of Fear

Posted Nov 23, 2016

Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence presented the Gun Violence-Culture of Fear Forum in KCMO on Oct. 10. Nationally syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Leonard Pitts was the keynote speaker at the event, cosponsored by Grandparents Against Gun Violence, PeaceWorks-KC, and other community groups. Joining Pitts were Mayor Sly James, Dr. Micah Kubic (ACLU), State Rep. Judy Morgan, and other experts who testified on the current state of gun violence, locally and nationally.

Mayor James sparked the conversation by recognizing that non-gun owners have rights, too. He cited statistics to make us stop and think: “There are 360 people shot per day in the US. Ninety of them result in death. Seven of those deaths are children.” This bears repeating: Seven children are killed each day by gunshot. Grandparents: Stand up and speak!

James informed us that 40 percent of gun sales are made without background checks, including those at gun shows and on the internet. He said, “I wish I didn’t have to be here talking about what should be just common sense. It is painfully obvious that politicians are not acting responsibly; that the public is ahead of the legislature, many of whom fear the gun lobby. The recent gun bill passed by the Missouri legislature is ridiculous! They put their constituents in danger, and that is inexcusable.”

Leonard Pitts continued the discussion by referring to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key, a slaveholder. The words “the land of the free” were a lie for blacks at the time, and oftentimes remain a lie, even now.

Gun owners are more likely to harm themselves and their family than to use guns for protection, said Pitts. “The NRA characterizes discussion about gun safety as a prelude to gun confiscation—they are threatened by common-sense discussion. Fearful thinking is not rational thinking. All constitutional rights need to be regulated.” Pitts pointed out that the First Amendment (free speech) is regulated, but efforts to regulate the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) are constantly under attack.

Pitts asked, “What kind of world will you leave your children? Will we continue to allow the NRA, which represents a minority of Americans, to endanger their (your children’s) future with their overzealous lobbying? Some legislators wear their NRA scores as a badge of honor. We need to change the American mindset to put children’s rights first.” In our fight for gun safety, we need to “be consistent, persistent, long-term, and brave,” Pitts said.

What can I do?

VOTE … in every election, local and national.

WORK … volunteer to work for candidates you agree with and use your social network to promote them. Donate to their campaigns so the NRA can’t compete for their vote.

PRESSURE THOSE IN OFFICE … make their lives uncomfortable if they refuse to close background-check loopholes. Be a nuisance.

USE YOUR VOICE – EVERYWHERE … talk to friends. Ask questions of gun owners – is their gun locked away from children? Write letters to the editor.

CHANGE THE CULTURE … Don’t wait for a tragedy in your community. Keep informed, follow gun legislation changes, and make your opinion loud.


Go to for more information about what you can do to stop gun violence.

—Lu Mountenay is vice-chairperson of the PeaceWorks Board of Directors.

Revival calls for action for justice and racial healing

Posted Nov 23, 2016

By Jane Stoever

“Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around, turn me around,” intoned the Gospel singer Sept. 19 at a black/brown/white revival for racial justice.

“Ain’t gonna let racist politics turn me around,” she belted out, leading about 400 of us in song at St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Mo.

“Ain’t gonna let no hatred turn me around,” we sang.

Opening the jam-packed revival with about five songs, the Gospel singer insisted, “Our ancestors wrote these songs because they knew we were coming.”

“Just a quiet little sister”

Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus, left, and Lu Mountenay of PeaceWorks—Photo by Tom Mountenay

Preachers called for the “beloved community” that Martin Luther King envisioned. Sister Simone Campbell, of Nuns on the Bus, said, “I’m just a quiet little sister, not much used to revival-ing. But I said yes to the revival because I’ve seen communities torn apart without words to bring them back together. We need the revival with the fabulous music and the quiet words to speak to each other.”

She noted, “Your (Missouri) legislature approved (photo) IDs for voting but did not approve getting a permit to get a gun. That’s nuts!” The audience applauded. “Last year, in Kansas City,” she added, “I met Stephanie, a 16-year- old who takes care of her four sisters and brothers because their parents have been deported. Who are we as a nation that we are making our families struggle?”

Fast-food workers—no health insurance, no vacation time, no sick leave

Soon, a speaker asked each person of color to get up and move next to a white person and share reflections about injustice. Later, Terrence Wise shared his story with the whole audience: “I’m a 37-year-old, a second-generation fast-food worker, the father of a family, and I work at McDonald’s. Fast food is a $200 billion industry, and McDonald’s makes $56 million a year profit. For us, there’s no sick leave or vacation time, no health insurance. I haven’t been to see a doctor or dentist in 18 years.”

Since 2013, Terence has been part of Stand Up KC, working for $15 an hour, a living wage. After he went on strike for a day, he was so concerned that he may not be allowed back on the job that a minister accompanied him, and he kept his job.

Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus, left, and Lu Mountenay of PeaceWorks—Photo by Tom Mountenay

Keynote speaker Rev. William Barber commented concerning the movement for justice, “Sister Simone told me the real movement has to come out of lament. The nation’s heart needs to be broken.”

Suffering of the gay community

Rev. Kendyl Gibbons, of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, spoke of the suffering of the gay community. “I have sat with teens in my office who are sick because their personalities don’t ‘match up’ with what they ‘should’ be. I have sat with people who are couples but couldn’t marry or the courts would take away their children.”

“Government-sponsored murder”

Rev. Barber, leader of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina that is pushing for fair wages, health care, and racial justice, said, “In Jesus’ first sermon, he comes to the hood because people in the hood had begun to believe the hoodlums in government—the myths of domination. He gives an ‘intersectorial agenda,’—good news to the poor, deliverance to the captive, sight to the blind.”

Shifting to Isaiah 10, Barber preached, “Woe to those who legislate evil!—who issue unjust laws and deprive the poor of their rights. Woe to those who cut money from children so they can get a tax cut for the wealthy.” Twenty-four states are taking 8 million people off health care, Barber said. “This is what government-sponsored murder looks like.”

He added, “They write immigration laws in such a way that your own grandmother couldn’t get into the country.”

Calling for action for racial justice, Barber noted, “First the people will be mad. Then you’ll open their eyes and their moral consciences,” and change will bubble up.

—Jane Stoever is a former PeaceWorks board member.

Buy the book

Poems for Lonely Prophets, by Ron Faust

Posted June 3, 2016

Ron Faust, Kansas City’s poet prophet, has collected his 2013-15 poems into the just-published Poems for Lonely Prophets. In “Mad Mindlessness,” Ron reflects,

Prophets come and go,
   not to prognosticate
      but to raise our spirits
         or to forewarn us
            of our insanity.

Want to raise your spirit? Buy the book! Call Ron for a copy for $10, 816-878- 3185. Or find him on Amazon here.

Ron’s wife, Toni, suggested using Haystack Rock for the cover. Why? “I make an annual journey to Haystack Rock on the Oregon coast to reflect on the flow of waves and the foundational values that become a rock for cultural progress,” says Ron. “The original photo by Toni showed my footprints as if on a destination that since then has been removed by the tide. This sacred space is an oasis on the edge of eternal vision and the sinking into the sands of time. I meditate on this yearly pilgrimage. I still have hope. I want to live. I connect. I write poetry because I can do no other in the face of the insane ways we try to destroy ourselves. Each year I wonder: Will this rock, symbolizing certain values, still be here?”

PeaceWorks-KC and American Friends Service Committee-KC, whom Ron acknowledges in his book, have heard him recite his poems at events opposing drone warfare and nuclear weapons, and have cheered him on in his transgressions of laws and property to live the truth. Onward, Poet!

‘Fly Kites, Not Drones’ takes wing at Whiteman AFB

Posted May 4, 2016

The rally “Fly Kites, Not Drones” touched down at the Spirit Gate to Whiteman Air Force Base April 30. Eight kites kissed the sky as 30 people, with peace dog Lily, condemned drone warfare. Why rally at Whiteman? Because, at Whiteman and about 40 other US bases, personnel guide killer drones to their targets and rain down bombs.

Mike Shilling’s kite meets the flags at the Spirit Gate,
Whiteman AFB. —Photo by Vicke Kepling

“The Bureau of Investigative Journalism says as many as 4,000 people, including more than 200 children, have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan alone,” said Joy First of Mount Horeb, WI, keynote speaker for the rally. “I have six grandchildren. As a grandmother, I feel like it’s important not only to love and embrace my own grandchildren, but to spread my arms wide to embrace all the children of the world.”

First convenes the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance and co-coordinates the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones. The human rights group Reprieve has found that drones kill 28 innocent people for every known “target,” and Living Under Drones says only 2 percent of those killed by drones are high-level targets, First reported. She added, “Obama has ordered 372 drone strikes since he took office, an average of one every eight days.” Drone killings fly in the face of international laws against attacking civilians and are extrajudicial, occurring with no prior judicial procedure, First explained.

She was invited to the rally, near Knob Noster, MO, by PeaceWorks-KC, and the event was cosponsored by Peace Network of the Ozarks and Mid-MO Fellowship of Reconciliation.

What did it mean to rally participants to fly kites at the Spirit Gate to Whiteman AFB? “Actually, I had too much fun. Lives are at stake, and I was having too much fun flying the kite,” said Lu Mountenay, vice chairperson of the PeaceWorks Board. She brought two kites emblazoned with peace symbols. “Looking up and seeing the kites, I thought, ‘What a wonderful sight!’ But then I imagined people looking up and seeing drones. I tried to transition from the joy of the kites. How privileged we are to live in this country, but how guilty we are that we make people in other countries live in fear.”

Two days earlier, in Kansas City, First spoke at a PeaceWorks gathering cosponsored by One Struggle KC, a coalition seeking to connect the struggles of oppressed communities of color locally and globally. Making the militarism/racism connection, First said, “It’s people of color that we’re killing overseas. It’s people of color that we’re killing at home.”

First also clarified the drone use policy of “anticipatory defense.” She explained, “Our government believes they might do something bad; therefore, it’s OK to kill them.”

Fly Kites, Not Drones 2016

—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks. See more pictures on Flickr and on Facebook at PeaceWorksKC and at Vicke Kepling.

Fly Kites, Not Killer Drones

By Lu Mountenay

Posted May 4, 2016

It’s not often we think of a peace protest as a “fun” event. On April 30 about 30 people from PeaceWorks-KC and other grass-roots groups gathered at Whiteman AFB to protest the “Predator” drones “piloted” from the base. We broke bread together, sang peace songs, and learned more about the drones and the destruction they wreak. We asked to present our case for grounding the drones to the commander of the base, but they relegated us to speaking with the military police standing guard.

Careful not to “trespass” on Air Force space, we let our kites soar.
—Photo by Vicke Kepling.

Our theme for the event was “Fly Kites, Not Drones.” And fly kites, we did. We kept the strings short so they wouldn’t enter the base’s sacred air space. We flew them daringly close to the three flags flying at the entrance. Beautiful. We saw the playful kite shadows playing on the grass and on a brick wall. For that part, at least, we enjoyed ourselves.

But the urgency of our cause never left our minds. We could imagine only too well, while the kites and their shadows bring us joy, the shadows of drones bring fear to those who live or work near their targets. While we hear songs of peace, they hear the dreaded threat of death flying overhead, and then the frightening screech of missiles.

While we protesters only face the possibility of arrest for trespass with a public trial, the people of Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, and elsewhere face the possibility of execution without any trial. We have the freedom to choose protest, but they have no choice. We are “civil resisters.” They are “collateral damage.”

Joy First issues call to civil resistance

Posted May 4, 2016

Joy First holds poster showing an Al Jazeera photo of children dying from a drone strike.
—Photo by Vicke Kepling

On April 28, the Peace Works-KC community met Joy First. She has been an active anti-war activist since 2002 and has been arrested 40 times. She spoke to us, during her talk in KC, about her spiritual calling to nonviolent civil resistance—which means she stands up to our government when it breaks US and international laws.

First said speaking out with the possibility of arrest is what she is compelled to do, aware that our country’s illegal wars have caused immense human suffering, at home and abroad, and must end. First clearly stated that the “answers” to war don’t lie within the Democratic and Republican parties or their candidates. Wars have become endless no matter who is in office, she said. It is up to us, the people, to object to war, including drone warfare, and the many other ills of our society. We, the people, must get out into the streets to demand the change we want to see. That is how real, lasting change happens.

—By Mary Hladky, member of the PeaceWorks-KC Board

Hear call for civil resistance; rally against drone warfare

Posted March 28, 2016

Joy First, a grandmother from Wisconsin, is a leader in opposing U.S. militarism, especially drone warfare. She co-coordinates the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and convenes the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.

Joy First holds an anti-drone sign during the Jan. 12 protest before crossing the street to the U.S. Capitol, to try to deliver to Vice President Biden a petition outlining the Real State of the Union, a statement opposing U.S. militarism. First and 12 others were arrested on the Capitol steps.

Why Civil Resistance? Why Now? are questions First will explore in a talk April 28, with Q&A to follow. “Our government is so out of control and committing so many illegal acts that protesting is not enough,” says First. “Now is the time to take that next step and get involved in civil resistance—acting in resistance to the illegal actions of our government.” Hear one grandmother’s story of why such resistance now is so important.

Meet First during supper on Thursday, April 28, at 6 pm at Simpson House, 4509 Walnut, KCMO (bring salad or dessert if you wish). At 7 pm, First will issue a clarion call for civil resistance and then lead discussion. Contact: 913-206-4088.

Fly Kites, Not Drones is the rally at Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, MO, from 2 to 4 pm Sunday, April 30. Whiteman AFB trains people in remote control of drones that are launched in the MidEast and attack “targets” and civilians. First will give the keynote talk. Carpools leave from KCMO at 12:15pm from two sites: All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, and Holy Family Catholic Worker House, 912 E. 31st St.

Bring kites!

Shut Down Creech 2016

by Ron Faust and Ann Suellentrop
PeaceWorks Action Committee co-chairs

Posted March 29, 2016

3/28/16 Monday 1:45pm

We (Ron and Ann) are headed down Highway 56 across Kansas and Oklahoma on our way to a national gathering in front of Creech Air Force Base north of Las Vegas, Nevada, to protest drone warfare. This is the second annual mass protest called “Shut Down Creech 2016”. (See We are looking forward to going to teach-ins to learn more information about drones in preparation for PeaceWorks’ drone protest at Whitman AFB scheduled for April 30 at 2pm. We are also going to connect with a national leader, Joy First, who will be giving a dinner presentation on drones in Kansas City entitled “Why Civil Resistance?” at 6pm Thursday, April 28, at Simpson House, 4509 Walnut, KCMO.

We plan on being at “Camp Justice” in the desert near Creech AFB this Wednesday through Friday, March 30-April 1. Creech AFB is home to weaponized drones like Reapers and Predators. Ann opines “These are the bad guys that supposedly are “precision” weapons, but they kill whole families. As a result, this encourages revenge violence against people in the country that has killed their family members. Drone behavior actually encourages terrorism on both sides!”

Ron notes, “We hear the President has a hit-list for people to be assassinated, and he meets with the Secretary of Defense every Tuesday to identify targets.” Drones are being sent to many countries, such as Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria and elsewhere. Many are in undeclared war zones, with no jury or trial, simply execution without due process for victims. Drones wipe out entire wedding parties and funeral processions and even kill those who come to rescue the victims afterwards. Ann says, “They are provocative and dangerous, actually war crimes. How would you like to feel the paranoia of drones overhead? They promote an atmosphere of fear. We even hear that children don’t go out to play anymore when skies are blue because that’s when drones come out.”

Four brave military drone operators are speaking out in the media as whistleblowers. Resigning in protest, they are sending President Obama a letter telling him that the negatives outweigh any positive use of drones. One of these whistleblowers is speaking at this year’s “Shut Down Creech” event.

A picture of last years’ protest is posted online showing some of the 150 protestors holding large signs. Over 32 were arrested in the non-violent demonstration. Ron comments, “We hope to be a counter-voice to the violence, trying to alert people to higher priorities. We know that each drone costs in the millions of dollars, for what? For terrorism? It certainly is NOT stopping terrorism!”

Questions spark answers on racism, white privilege

Jim Hannah shares ideas about racism from America’s Original Sin.

by Jane Stoever

Posted March 28, 2016

The PeaceWorks Annual Meeting March 6 featured table-talk on racism and white privilege. Jim Hannah, secretary of the PeaceWorks board, shared excerpts from America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, by Jim Wallis. Then Hannah posed questions or thought-provokers for the PeaceWorks members to discuss. For example:

— "In what ways are you disadvantaged, or advantaged, by your race?"

— "The author suggests that the ‘bridge to a new America’ will be formed by deepened interracial relationships, and by living in closer proximity. Talk about interracial bridge-builders you’ve known."

During the table-talk time, Christopher Stohrer said he got insight into his own white privilege when first one and then another of his black employees were out in a car, were pulled over by the police, and were locked up, by mistake. "It would never have happened to me," he said. The incidents occurred in the late 1980s in Washington, DC, where Stohrer managed a paint store.


PeaceWorks members share their own experiences of racism and white privilege. —Photos by Robyn Haas

In her small group, Debora Demeter said she and her family went to an all-black church, and in the late 1960s, her church and an all-white church developed an integration program. "We had dinner in each other’s houses," said Demeter. "It helped me. It taught me how to not be afraid of whites." TV had taught her that whites had sent dogs against blacks and had killed them. In 1968, to help integrate white schools and to have her get a better education, Demeter’s parents sent her to a white Catholic school for 8th grade and, the next year, to a white Catholic high school. Eventually, she asked Alvin Brooks to teach black history to her otherwise white high school class, which he did.

Hannah reflected that the oppressive racism in our country requires action as well as talk. "But talking is an action," he said. Several meeting participants, among about 60 attendees, said they wished there had been more time to talk.

'Peace muscles, not peace missiles!'

by Ann Suellentrop

Posted March 28, 2016

Here are excerpts from Ann Suellentrop’s March 6 talk at the PeaceWorks Annual Meeting.

Ann Suellentrop, R.N. M.S.

In my opinion, nuclear weapons are a symptom of our fear and our lack of mercy towards others. In a matter of minutes, the entire world as we know it could be destroyed by nuclear weapons. For example, just one Trident submarine can launch hundreds of missiles and destroy all major cities in other countries.

Modern supercomputers have proven that these are suicidal weapons, as they will loft enormous plumes of soot and debris into the stratosphere, blocking the sun and causing a new ice age, destroying crops for years to come.

As a result of this new proven "humanitarian impact" of nuclear weapons, the vast majority of countries that do not have nukes are moving in the United Nations to draft a treaty banning them. A group called the Open-Ended Working Group, OEWG, will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, in May to start drafting the treaty, whether the few nuclear weapons states agree or not. This will start the process of outlawing nukes and eventually getting rid of them. The non-nuclear weapons states are saying they have a right to survive that "trumps" our right to so-called security.

Nationally, the proposed 2017 U.S. budget has just come out, and the powers that be are starting a new Cold War, planning to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to redo all nuclear weapons and all nuclear bomb factories and facilities. Of course, we know the new Kansas City Plant (to make non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons) was the first major nuclear bomb facility built in over 30 years. New facilities are proposed for uranium "secondaries" at Oak Ridge, TN, and for plutonium "primaries" or "pits" at Los Alamos, NM.

Bannister Federal Complex got more attention in the 2017 budget, it being one of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s 10 high-risk facilities, and the property transfer is to occur in fiscal year 2017. The budget lists an additional $200 million for "recapitalization," shutting down the old KC Plant and maintaining continued surveillance of the massive contamination left there. The excellent investigation by the McClatchy group published in The Kansas City Star Dec. 12 says almost 2,500 hazardous toxins were used at the plant, including radioactive substances. When we first started protesting at the old plant in 2010, they would only admit to a few hundred toxins!

In two months, PeaceWorks board member Jordan "Sunny" Hamrick and myself will be lobbying in Washington, DC, at the annual Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s DC Days. Join us! You will get first-class training in lobbying and meet anti-nuclear activists who have been at this for decades!

But you may be wondering, what can WE do here at home to help bring about world peace and real security? The way I see it, as we come together today, celebrating our various local efforts for peace, we are exercising our peace "muscles," the opposite of fear and hatred. In each of our everyday lives, as we show love and tender concern for those around us and for those who live far off, in a very real way we are strengthening efforts for peace. Even things we do to create peace within ourselves count! Gandhi said change is made with 80 percent building things up and only 20 percent tearing things down.

So I say, let’s build up peace muscles, not "PeaceKeeper" missiles!
Peace muscles, not peace missiles!
Peace muscles, not peace missiles!

—Ann Suellentrop, R.N. M.S., serves on the PeaceWorks board and helps lead the KC chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Addicts of Fear

by Ron Faust

Posted March 28, 2016

The addiction to guns
is a dark secret
in walking alone
being scared
at two in the morning
waking up
from a nightmare

Ron Faust reads to PeaceWorks members March 6. —Photo by Jim Hannah

And it’s always the same
the fear is obsessive
and dominates
the need to survive
and beat death
and control the future

It’s like we are caught up
in a huge fireball
with flickers of wild flames
consuming everything
crossing our path and
as long as we have our gun
we have a phantom shield

So guns become the obsession
the more the better
the biggest military
plutonium is best
atomic bombs acceptable
killing thousand times over
in every household
violence is everywhere
raise kids with sticks
and be the biggest bully
and eliminate the bugs
shoot them with bazookas
and if a war should start
be proud for your country

Because no one will pry loose
your gun says the 2nd amend.
Wait, we need to build a wall
But the Pope visits the border
says that fences are unchristian
how disgraceful
that he question my faith
and know more than me
probably doesn’t even have a gun

So violence consumes humanity
its obsessions, its madness
Unless a climate change of fear
and the least use of force
Creates instead a climate for peace.

Satirical Postscript
for addicts of fear or gun-toters:

We could use a better weather report
Free of fire power and thunder storms

Or just maybe a sensible election.

(On occasion of wondering why guns are treasured by the addicts of fear who wonder how we have a climate of gun violence, certainly stormy weather conditions of alarming statistics, i.e.,100,000 victims every year, 32,000 fatalities, 89 people dying each day) 3/6/16

Death to the death penalty!

by Theresa Maly

Posted March 28, 2016

"Death to the Death Penalty" was the name of the Feb. 27 workshop in KC sponsored by Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP), together with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The occasion was an opportunity for the networking needed to work effectively toward our common goal: death to the death penalty.

The workshop began with reviewing national and state trends. We celebrated the fact that nationwide, the death penalty is losing ground. And it is losing in Missouri as well. This is the first year since 1974 that a repeal bill (SB 816) was actually voted out of committee. It reached the full Senate for debate Feb. 8. One of our Kansas City legislators acknowledged during the debate that he had been unsure of the death penalty, but after hearing from his constituents, he is now against it. No vote was taken on SB 816, but it was another step along the way and reinforces the power of each and every voice.

Coming up, we need to watch for SB 652, calling for an analysis of the cost of criminal cases that result in the application of the death penalty, and SB 758, the Racial Justice Act. Stay tuned. For info, check or

Photo by Flickr user Victor.

The workshop addressed injustices throughout the system: inadequate representation, economic disparity, and the gross racial imbalance in prosecutors (99.9 percent are white), jurors, and judges, as well as wrongful convictions (9 percent of those convicted and sentenced to death are innocent).

About 3,000 inmates in our U.S. prisons live under the sentence of death; less than 1 percent of them are executed each year. Did you ever wonder how, why, and by whom decisions are made as to who will be executed? Are they really "the worst of the worst," as they say?

I certainly did not have that experience with Michael Roberts, whom I journeyed with to that horrendous day of his execution on Oct. 3, 2001. He never denied his crime. He would have done anything to undo the violent murder he committed, but he could not. One of the first statements I made when I left the execution chamber was, "I have just witnessed a deliberate, sanitized, calculated murder by the State of Missouri." Being a resident of this state, I was/we are participants in that crime as well as all the others that continue to take place.

We remember with deepest sympathy and concern the families of those who have been executed. They now grieve the loss their loved one. We always remember with deepest sympathy the families of those who continue to grieve the loss of a loved one by senseless violence. Let us also remember the loved ones of those who have been executed. May God comfort their ever-grieving hearts.

Let’s execute justice—not people!

—Theresa Maly, a Sister of Notre Dame, works at Unbound and is part of the extended community of Holy Family Catholic Worker House in KCMO.

North St. Louis suffers from secret nuclear waste

by Ann Suellentrop

Posted March 28, 2016

"The Atoms Next Door: A Symposium on Nuclear Waste and Occupational Illness" was an event I attended in St. Louis Feb. 22 at the St. Louis Community College of Wildwood.

The event featured local artists’ photography and artwork about the decades-long secret radioactive contamination of neighborhoods in north St. Louis. This is nuclear waste that was made for the Manhattan Project, for the very first nuclear reactions and bombs for the U.S. This carelessly dumped and forgotten waste has now caused many serious health problems in St. Louis, including cancer clusters and early deaths of people, including children. One woman spoke movingly about her stage 4 lung cancer; she lives beside Goldwater Creek where the radioactive waste was dumped illegally. Another radioactive dump is right next to a “regular” dump which has had an underground fire since 2010, and residents only recently found out about it! Residents say they are seeking to have the Army Corp of Engineers take over the cleanup from the Environmental Protection Agency’s lax oversight.

Terra Douglas, on the left, relaxes at lunch before a symposium on nuclear waste in St. Louis. She and others are working to get HR 4100 passed so the Army Corps of Engineers will take over the cleanup from the EPA. —Photo by Ann Suellentrop

Dr. Helen Caldicott, an Australian pediatrician, author, and internationally known anti-nuclear advocate, gave the opening keynote. She explained the deadly effects of uranium and its long chain of decay elements, including thorium, radium and radon, some of which have deadly radioactive effects that last thousands and millions of years. (In 2010, Caldicott helped PeaceWorks launch its protest campaign against Kansas City’s new nuclear weapons plant.) Caldicott, age 77, urged us all to alert the public and elected officials about the danger to public health and to the environment that nuclear stockpiling and nuclear war pose.

Following the keynote, a panel of local and national officials talked about nuclear waste and its consequences in St. Louis and beyond. One of the panelists was Bob Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and former senior policy advisor to the Department of Energy Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment. Alvarez said, in short, that the feds created the nuclear mess in St. Louis, and they need to clean it up!

—Ann Suellentrop, R.N. M.S., is a member of the PeaceWorks board and the KC chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Prison poets read their poems to the public, touch hearts

by Jackie Utter

Posted March 4, 2016

Wise Hayes reads to a standing-room-only gathering.

Two current inmates and four former inmates read their poetry Feb. 16 at Johnson County Central Library in Overland Park, KS. The event marked the first time Lansing Correctional Facility, in Lansing, KS, allowed prisoners an evening of freedom to read to the public.

The readings started out with the past and present inmates—who have all been involved in the poetry program at the prison--reading their own work and poems from another 10 current inmates who were not able to attend the reading. Their words were powerful and moving and explained in detail the different hardships about being in prison and about life in general.

Here’s a short poem as an example, this one by Jacob Waldrop, one of the current inmates who did not come to the reading:


big leather strap
crying, begging, pleading
hope the pain goes away quickly

PeaceWorks member Arlin Buyert, the prisoners’ poetry teacher for the last four years, got the warden’s okay for the evening out, and indeed, the warden came for the performance. Buyert wrapped up the readings with one of his own poems, read with help from all the inmates, and the audience of more than 160 persons gave them a standing ovation.

If you would like to know more about these partners in peace, please check these links: Kansas City Star: “Arts in Prison poetry program helps inmates find freedom in writing,” and on Facebook: The Writers Place and Arts in Prison, Inc.

The Thomas Zvi Wilson Reading Series (a collaboration between The Writer's Place in KCMO and the Johnson County Library) presented the poetry reading by the inmates and former inmates. The poetry program at the prison is sponsored by Arts in Prison, Inc., which also features The East Hill Singers, theatre and yoga.

Audience members, including PeaceWorks member Tom Mountenay, foreground, listen intently.

Arlin Buyert reads one of his own poems, with help from his friends.

Lansing Correctional Center. Photo by Americasroof

Joy First comes to trial for opposing ‘shadow drones’

by Joy First

Posted March 28, 2016

Note: Joy First will speak April 28 in KCMO and at the PeaceWorks rally vs. drone warfare on April 30 at Whiteman AFB. Excerpts follow from First’s report on her trial Feb. 9.

On Feb. 9, Judge Paul Curran found me guilty of trespass for walking onto the Air National Guard Base at Volk Field in Wisconsin on Aug. 26, 2015. I joined eight others who wanted to deliver a message to Base Commander Col. David Romuald, demanding that he immediately end the program of training pilots to operate the “shadow drone” at Volk Field. Shadow drones are used overseas for reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition, and so contribute to the deaths of thousands of innocents through U.S. drone warfare.

The trial began with the district attorney calling Juneau County (Wisconsin) Deputy Sheriff Thomas Mueller, who established that I was at Volk Field on Aug. 26 and that I did cross onto the base after being told not to. 

Questions I asked the deputy under cross-examination

Joy First

Q. What is the purpose of the area between the gates and the guardhouse?
A. It is so cars have a place to line up while waiting to talk to someone in the guardhouse without blocking the county road.

Q. When is it legal to be there?
A. When you are a member of the public waiting to talk to someone in the guardhouse.

Q. Did you ask any of us why we were there so you would know if we were there for a valid reason, and were therefore authorized to be there?
A. No, I didn’t.

Q. Why weren’t we allowed to walk to the guardhouse and state our business?
A. The sheriff said we should arrest you when you stepped onto the base.

… It seems clear we are being discriminated against by not being allowed to go to the guardhouse when that is what anyone else is able to do, but I was not a good enough examiner to bring this out with the witness that was there.

My testimony

… I have a First Amendment right to petition my government for a redress of grievances, and that was what I was doing at Volk Field on Aug. 26, 2015. I have an obligation following (the) Nuremberg (Trials, of 1945-46) to speak out when I see that my government is doing something illegal.

I was not there on Aug. 26 in order to enter the base without permission, but to get to the guardhouse to request a meeting with the base commander to talk about U.S. drone warfare.  I was not there because I wanted to get arrested. … When the police asked us to leave, I believed it was my right and my duty to remain.

My closing statement

I am here before you today because I cannot and will not remain silent as our government continues to engage in drone warfare which is illegal and immoral. I did not go to Volk Field on Aug. 25, 2015, to break the law; rather I was there to uphold the law. This is not a simple trespassing case. … I went to Volk Field not with the intention of getting arrested, but rather to try to meet with the base commander, who has never answered a letter from us. …

According to the Nuremberg Principles, if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal and immoral activities, then we are complicit. ... It is our responsibility as citizens, as taxpayers, as voters, as prosecutors, as judges to speak out. Robert Jackson, the United States judge at the Nuremberg Trials, said, “The very essence of the Nuremberg Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state.”

… At the Hancock Air Force Base in New York, resisters were acquitted because the judge said they intended to uphold the law, not break it.  We were at Volk Field on Aug. 26 to uphold the law.

Verdict: guilty

Judge Curran … pronounced me guilty. He said that what I was asking him to do was very dangerous. He cannot let me off because he likes me or agrees with me. That would set a very dangerous precedent. He can’t let his personal beliefs affect his rulings as he picks and chooses which laws to obey and which not to obey. 

The trial lasted 18 minutes. Curran … IS picking and choosing which laws to obey when finds us guilty. He is ignoring … our First Amendment rights. He is ignoring international law, including Nuremberg, the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions—all of which make U.S. drone warfare illegal. 

-Joy First, of Mount Horeb, WI, is a wife, mother, and grandmother, co-coordinator of the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, and convener of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.

Brother Louis Rodemann stands opposite the old Kansas City Plant. Photo by Ann Suellentrop.

Best peace and justice letters of 2015

Posted February 29, 2016

Each month we publish the best peace letters that were published in The Kansas City Star in the previous month. 2015's best letter, to be acclaimed at the Annual Meeting on March 6, is entitled "Oppression in US." Preview it here. The author, Christian Brother Rodemann, says, “We squander trillions of dollars on national defense while the reality of dehumanizing poverty oppresses millions. … At the end of the day … don’t we see this all as insane, unjust and immoral?”

Some peace and justice letters from early 2016 are also posted.


Oh the load we carried
home from ’Nam.
The general ordered
“Kill the enemy,
Every one of them.”

But the woman.
Scarf wrapped around her head,
waist deep in a swamp,
young son wearing a bamboo hat
nestled in her arms.

Now I hear the chopper,
taste sweat on my lips,
smell blood in the dirt,
see bone on the road
as I walk my children to school.

by Arlin Buyert, PeaceWorks member

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Forum
Move the Money: Concrete steps for economic justice

Photos and story by Lu Mountenay of PeaceWorks

Posted February 12, 2016

On January 18 the community met with a panel of speakers to explore raising the minimum wage and issues of racism and injustice. The event was sponsored by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater KC. Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church hosted the event and conducted voter registration.

Ira Harritt of AFSC represented the Move the Money project, encouraging attendees to endorse the statement: “We assert we must reorient our public policies in a new direction, follow core values and re-engage our moral compass.” This will address education, livable wages, health care, housing, and violence prevention.

Kelsey Burrus of Rockhust’s Black Student Union spoke of the civil rights “bank of justice” and fair taxation. She quoted MLK, “There is no shalom without justice.”

Dr. Angela Sims of St. Paul School of Theology urged use of product boycott as a strategy to encourage diversity in hiring and to move tax money from “war and weapons of war to people and their needs.”

Dr. Vernon Howard of SCLC asked, “Where is the poor people’s campaign, started by MLK?”

Richard Eiker also promoted Stand Up KC. As the leader of the area’s fast food workers, he has done civil disobedience for the cause that everyone deserves a living wage. Referring to McDonald’s restaurant’s huge profits, he asked, “Why should we fight for crumbs, when the owners run off with the bakery?”

Lora McDonald, director of MORE2 (Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity), encouraged shopping at black-owned businesses. McDonald expressed concern about the prison industrial complex, in which she has worked, and the high percentage of arrests and longer sentences for black people. For speaking against privatization of the prisons, she has been the victim of hate mail from the Arian Brotherhood, calling her a “race traitor.”

The forum was a wake-up call for the community to alarming issues, and to concrete steps we can take for equality and justice.

Bonnie Block found guilty of trespass—again

Posted February 12, 2016

Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones activist Bonnie Block was found guilty of trespass on January 8, from her action taken last August. After an objection by the District Attorney was over-ruled by Judge Curran, Block was allowed to read her statement to the court.

She assured the court she had no intent to harm anyone or damage anything. Rather, she said her action was nonviolent civil resistance calling on the US to abide by the rule of law. In her statement listing why operating weaponized drones is illegal, Block included:

Block asks—as do the children of Afghanistan— “Fly kites, not drones.”

Come to the drone action April 30. PeaceWorks-KC is organizing a drone war protest Saturday, April 30, from 2 to 4 pm, at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, Mo. Carpool with us! Meet at 12:15 pm at All Souls Church, 4501 Walnut, KCMO, or at Holy Family Catholic Worker House, 912 E. 31st St., KCMO. Info: Jane Stoever, 913-206-4088.

Cherith Brook on gun violence

Posted February 12, 2016

On November 20, Cherith Brook hosted the viewing of the Presbyterian Church’s documentary, Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence. We were all disturbed by the harsh reality. Eric Garbison gave us the Citizen’s Test on Gun Violence in America. Which true or false answers surprise you?

Take the complete test at and find out how much you know (or don’t know) about preventing gun violence.

National peace organization tackles Missouri issues

by Ann Suellentrop of PWKC, PSR, and ANA
and Lu Mountenay of Community of Christ

Posted February 12, 2016

ANA president Jay Coghlan (standing) and ANA members focused on environmental threats to Missouri.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) held its annual meeting in the KC metro area in November.

The ANA is a national network of organizations that has worked diligently over 30 years to abolish nuclear weapons and promote maximum cleanup of hazardous waste at nuclear weapons manufacturing sites.

PeaceWorks is a member of ANA.

PWKC and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) hosted the event and held a riveting panel about the KC Plant and the nuclear waste dump in St. Louis. Speakers (moms), from the St. Louis area affected, told how the smoke-filled air chokes their families. ANA drew parallels to workers affected by toxic chemicals at the old KC Plant at Bannister Federal Complex (BFC).

Ideas from the ANA for local action

Scott Canon of the KC Star wrote a good size article about the meeting in the Nov. 5 issue.

Two charming guests on the grounds where the ANA met reminded us of our environmental concerns.

DC Days

Every spring ANA has lobby days in Washington DC called DC Days. Get excellent lobby training experience, followed by three days of meetings with offices of representatives, senators and other national entities.

This year ANA is providing partial scholarships for youth to attend April 17-20 and the ANA spring meeting April 21-22. Speedy applications are encouraged to get reasonable airfares.

Deadline for applications is Wed., Feb. 17, 2016. Youth are ages 18–29. Please call Ann Suellentrop 913-271-7925 for further details.

Sr. Helen Prejean: listen to the truth about the death penalty

Posted February 12, 2016

Sr. Helen Prejean.
Photo by Lu Mountenay.

Speaking at Unity Temple on the Plaza Oct. 30, Sister Helen Prejean clarified six widely held misconceptions about the death penalty, emphasizing racial injustice.

The event was sponsored by Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

UPCOMING: Rally with Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty on the days of the executions, at 39th & Troost, 5-6pm. An execution has been scheduled in Missouri for Earl Forrest on Wednesday, May 11. Call Gov. Nixon for stays of execution, 573-751-3222.

Nuns on the Bus roll into town

Sister Simone Campbell -by Lu Mountenay

by Lu Mountenay

Posted November 21, 2015

On September 11 we greeted the nuns as they rolled up for a Town hall meeting at Community Christian Church on Main Street, KCMO. CCC pastor Shanna Steitz introduced Sr. Simone Campbell as one who leads with love. She is a lawyer and annoyer of politicians, and is a voice for the voiceless.

The nuns were on a 13-city tour. Sr. Simone said some are new and some (pointing to herself) are “retreads.” All the nuns on board are listeners to the needs of the community.

Lu Mountenay, of the Peaceworks KC board, next to the nuns' tour bus.

“Bridge the divides: transform politics”          

The purpose of the town hall was to find commonalities and network to solutions. Campbell said, “When we don’t claim a place at the table, we might find ourselves on the menu.” She advised us to “Act on one thing with joy.”      She told us we cannot sit in our individualism – then she deputized us as missionaries— “Talk to people about what’s on your heart, and then listen.”

And listen they did—to our community concerns about racism, education, violence,  and poverty, which Sr. Simone listed as “challenges.”  Then they listened to us brain-storm solutions and listed them as KC’s “way forward.”

Before and after the town hall meeting we were invited to “sign” the bus and send our blessing and support with the nuns to their next stop to “bridge the divides and transform politics.”

Map of the 13 city tour.

PeaceWorks-KC was well represented by board members Alishiya Kapoor and Sunny Hamrick of Jerusalem Farm. By Lu Mountenay

Baby jail

by Angela Ferguson, immigration attorney

Posted November 15, 2015

Three legal volunteers with three released families.

At an early morning breakfast in Dilley, Texas, I was surrounded by camouflage. It was opening day for dove season, so the hunters were out in force, in all their gear. I was there to work at the South Texas Family Detention Facility, where 1947 women and children are currently         in jail for crossing the southern border of Texas. I am thinking that we should have had a camouflage shop on the Mexican side of the border for the crossers.

I worked with amazing legal volunteers who gave a week of time to work long days in the baby jail, all the while missing their own families. On Thursday night, our group from Missouri walked to an ice cream shop. We walked at night, alongside a dark road. Every time a car came, we had to step off the road into the ditch. I worried about stickers, brambles, snakes and stepping in a hole and twisting an ankle.

I left Dilley on Saturday, driving, and had time to check out the terrain. The scrubby trees, the desolation, and the huge cacti—I can't imagine what it would be like walking miles through that landscape. It reminded me of the 47-year old woman that I met this week with her 16-year old daughter. They got caught after walking a long distance, and Mom limped into my "office" at the jail. She had flip-flops on, and I noticed her swollen feet, scabbed over and infected. I learned that they fled Honduras to keep her daughter from becoming a "jaine" (a prostitute) for the local Mara Salvatrucha gang. She has two married sons and seven grandchildren in the U.S. I wondered how far I would be willing to walk to save my daughter and to see my grandchildren?

All week long, story after story of heart-wrenching pain. I was able to hold it all in, not shed a tear, do my job. Until standing in the cattle-call line at the Southwest gate in the San Antonio airport ...tears began flowing.

Since June, 2014 the Obama Administration has detained thousands of families at “Family Residential Centers.” These families are all fleeing extreme situations in their home countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Instead of being recognized as refugees and protected, since last summer the Administration has been forcing thousands of these children and mothers through for-profit jails.

In response to this shift in policy, volunteers have given their time to defend these families, working around the clock at the jails, formerly in Artesia, NM, and now in Dilley and Karnes, in South Texas. To amplify the work happening around the country to end this practice of jailing babies, we are calling on supporters to participate by visiting our website to learn ways to call for ending family detention from where you live. 

The march of empire

by Ian Munro

Posted June 12, 2015

Photo from

“A mighty military power is always a practical despotism. A great standing army and a great navy can quietly overturn popular institutions whenever their leaders may wish.”

This was the warning of the editors of the Kansas City Times in 1886, when Republican Teddy Roosevelt was lobbying to increase the size of the U.S. military. The editors of the Times – a pro-Democratic-Party paper -- were against it, for reasons that have resonance today.

First, they said, military expenses impoverish the people, not only by taxation but by the maintenance of a standing army, since millions of able-bodied men are kept from “productive industry” by the doctrine of military preparedness. Meanwhile, those who whose taxes pay for armies are injured by depressed demand for commodities caused by the military’s unproductiveness.

Those favoring an expanded military “tempt laboring people with the bait of employing all idle hands upon government works: warships, fortifications, and cannon.” The editors warn against falling into this trap. In European countries like Italy, labor conditions and trade only worsened as military expenditures grew.

The United States, they write, "could adopt a nobler policy than that of military competition. The foundations of our system are laid in peace and the fellowship of man. … To the people of this country there is no hope from war or from war expenditures. Our future history as a free people must be a history of peace and even development."

In 1898, twelve years after the Times editorial appeared, Republican President William McKinley used the warships Teddy Roosevelt had successfully lobbied for to undertake the first of the country’s overseas imperial ventures: annexation of Hawaii and conquest of the Philippines.

The editors of the London Daily Mail had earlier warned of the dangerous waters the U.S. was entering as it contemplated annexing Hawaii and thus initiating the creation of an overseas empire:

Our own example has shown that while the march of empire has a first step it has no last. A sort of fatal necessity compels the seizure of new posts to guard the old. At one time we thought that the line of the Himalayas would be our last word on the subject in India. Now we want, or some of us want, outposts to guard the Himalayas. If the United States establish themselves in the Pacific they will need a more powerful fleet than ever to keep themselves in touch with their possessions. It will be easy to do it, but easier to let it alone, as no foreign power raises the slightest objection to the proceeding. Resist beginnings, said the sage.

The first step wasn't so easy after all: it took U.S. forces three years of brutal warfare to suppress the Filipino independence movement.  Soon, as predicted, the U.S. began constructing bases, on Guam and in the Philippines, to guard its new possessions. 

Now the U.S. has hundreds of military bases around the world and, like the British Empire in its repeated, futile efforts to guard its Indian colony by invading Afghanistan, is entangled in seemingly endless conflicts in the same “Graveyard of Empires,” pursuing the same, increasingly elusive goal of “security.”

—Ian Munro is emeritus Professor of English at William Jewell College and a member of Citizens for Justice in the Middle East, a Kansas City group that seeks to educate citizens about the issues involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to end U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories

Brian Terrell dispels Obama’s ‘fog of war’ excuse for drone killings

Posted May 29, 2015

Video by Mike Nickells.

During a drone war protest at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri on May 17, Brian Terrell rejected the excuse President Barack Obama has made for drone killings of civilians: “the fog of war.” The video gives Terrell’s critique of this explanation for the drone killings of a U.S. Jewish aid worker, Dr. Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni LaPorto, both hostages of Al Qaeda forces.

“On April 23, the president got on TV, and for the first time in my lifetime, a president of the U.S. apologized for something—for people being killed by drones,” not the thousands of killings other organizations have reported, but “only two of them, just two,” said Terrell. “‘The fog of war’ means mistakes are made when people are in the field, in the jungle, in the desert, for weeks at a time, and there’s the chaos of battle, and you don’t know who to shoot, you don’t know where to shoot, and you sometimes kill the wrong people.”

However, insisted Terrell, “This did not happen in battle. Not at all.”

The two hostages died in Waziristan, in Pakistan, near the Afghan border in January. Terrell said he believed the drone pilots were at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, sitting in a room at their computer screens when the order came to strike. “What happened … was static,” not the confusion of a battlefield, he said. “This is not the fog of war. This is not war at all.”

Terrell, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence and a Catholic Worker in Maloy, Iowa, in 2012 did civil resistance at Whiteman AFB and was sentenced to six months in a federal prison camp. On May 17, after disputing “the fog of war” as a defense for lethal drone hits, he referred to his conversation earlier that day with two Air Force members who spoke with the protesters. “As we’re telling our friends here from the base, their comrades, U.S. Air Force personnel in Ramstein, Germany, may be facing ‘accomplice in murder’ charges in Germany, under German law, because they are committing murder even though the people who are dying are dying in Yemen and Pakistan and other places. They will not be able to use ‘I was a soldier and this was a killing in battle.’ It wasn’t in battle. They were hundreds of miles away from where the missile blew up.”

Video by Mike Nickells.

The drone war protest at Whiteman AFB brought together people from Columbia, Mo.; Springfield, Mo.; and the Kansas City, Mo., area, including members of the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation, PeaceWorks-KC, Veterans for Peace, and Peace Network of the Ozarks. Among the 26 protesters, 16 signed an indictment of Obama, Brig. Gen. Glen VanHerck of Whiteman AFB, and all persons down the chain of command who are involved in drone killings. The officers at the base refused to accept the indictment, so it was mailed to VanHerck May 23.

Videographer Mike Nickells of Kansas City took the video of Terrell, plus another in which Terrell comments on some 18 counter-protesters who drove past, revving up their motorcycles and trucks to drown out the protest.

—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks-KC

Rosy’s Bar & Grill + Danny Cox in Concert

Posted May 9, 2015

Danny Cox (left) and Rosy's Bar and Grill (right) with: Joyce Downing (left), Tamara Severns (front), Carol Smith (right).

The folk-singing trio Rosy’s Bar & Grill will join blues musician Danny Cox in the fund-raiser “Concert to Counter Bigotry” Saturday, May 16. They’ll perform at 7pm at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, KCMO, to raise funds for an organization that for decades has studied hate crimes, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, opposition to GLBT persons, and anti-immigrant sentiment—the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. Rosy’s stars Tamara Severns, Carol Smith, and Joyce Downing.

Tickets at the door: $15. For advance tickets at $12, go to

Check out the event and RSVP on Facebook.

Lawyers ‘expose and close’ center detaining Latino women and children

by Angela Ferguson

Posted April 28, 2015

In August, volunteers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association traveled to Artesia, NM, to help at an immigration detention facility that was holding women and children from Central America. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to go and witness the atrocities. The Obama Administration decided these women and children were a national security risk and must be under mandatory detention and quickly deported. The Artesia facility was to be a temporary stop on the road back home.

When we arrived from the KC area, the volunteer legal team was in the second week onsite. Five Virginia judges, via televideo, were holding bond hearings, with bond ranging from $10,300 to $22,000. We had bond hearings that turned into mini-asylum trials. Because of vigorous legal advocacy, the Administration position started to crack. Hearings were transferred to a court in Denver in October, and that court averaged bonds of $3,500. 

Rallying for immigration reform. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

The team slowed down the pace of removals and represented these refugees in asylum trials. From mid-July to mid-August, the pace of deportations dropped from 19 per day to 4 per day and then, one month later, less than 1 per day. In each case I handled, there was at least one person in America whom the woman was trying to reach, typically a family member. At the original pace of deportations, the facility would have been empty, except for guards, by mid-August. The “waves” of deportations that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) widely announced in the media were realistic projections until the legal team fought to end that depopulation.

Over 100 legal volunteers worked for these 800+ detainees. Our goal was to SHUT IT DOWN! On December 15th, we succeeded—all remaining detainees had bonded out or been transferred to Texas, where only about 20 of the Artesia detainees remain in custody. Most of the asylum trials completed for the Artesia refugees have been WON. It took a legal army, but the result was that the Administration’s mistaken position on this “national security risk” has been exposed, and the facility has been closed

—Angela Ferguson is vice chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and a member of PeaceWorks and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.

Note: The Administration has recently allowed about five million people without papers to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation. This is being challenged by Congress. Stay informed and confer with your elected officials about this.

Do you hear what I hear?
Move the Money Listening Project

Posted April 28, 2015

On March 12 members of PeaceWorks joined representatives from many local grass-roots and government organizations to get to know the needs of our community. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) had listened to reps from 41 community organizations, then summarized and prioritized their needs. The project created and documented a dialog between grass-roots action groups and government budget policies.

We heard, with dissatisfaction, that 57% of the discretionary federal budget is allocated for the military (including the Department of Defense, war, and nuclear weapons programs—the only branch of the government which is never audited). We heard the AFSC would like to see that money more equitably spent to address the following observations of the listening project:

·      Cutting social programs to save funds today is short-sighted and causes increased costs to society in the future.

·      All workers should be paid a living wage.

·      Government policies should benefit all citizens, not just the wealthiest.

·      The wealthiest citizens and corporations should pay their fair share of taxes.

PeaceWorks board treasurer Dave Pack, representing the AFSC program committee, shared the need for a fair tax system and closing the loopholes of the rich. He stressed that true security comes from adequate food, housing, employment, education, and health care, and that military spending can be cut without loss of security. He sees a reallocation of funds as an investment in people. This change is possible with massive grass-roots efforts.

We also heard from Ira Harritt of AFSC, “Grass-roots action involves the population, the group it is serving. Groups collaborate for change.” We heard, loud and clear, we need to get big money out of politics. We need to recognize the dignity of each person by campaigning for a living wage, which is key to equity and justice.

—By Lu Mountenay, who serves on the PeaceWorks board

Is peace possible between Israel and Palestine?

Posted March 17, 2015

Alison Weir (left) and Dr. Anat Maor (right).

Point. Counterpoint.

Two speakers—one a former member of the Israeli Knesset (Congress), the other a journalist who has exposed flaws in U.S. media reports about the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict—probed war-and-peace issues March 5 in Overland Park, Kan.

Citizens for Justice in the Middle East, a Kansas City organization, took on the task of finding persons willing to share a table and tackle differing views of Israeli/Palestinian issues. CJME, an advocate for Palestinian rights, contacted several lecturers from the Israeli perspective before receiving a welcome “yes” from Dr. Anat Maor. She was a lawmaker in Israel from 1992 to 2003, became Deputy Knesset Speaker, and now is a visiting scholar at Brooklyn College in New York. “I am a Zionist,” she declared, noting that the UN Partition Plan in 1947 proposed both a Jewish State and an Arab State. Holding out hope for negotiation, she said, “This Saturday, there was a demonstration (in Israel) of about 10,000 people calling for peace with the Palestinian people.” Maor lauded the Geneva Accord of 2003, seeking two states for two peoples, living in peace and security.

The second speaker, journalist Alison Weir, became aware in 2000 of the pro-Israel bias in U.S. media reports. “I was shocked,” she said. She gave up her job and traveled to Gaza and the West Bank in early 2001, “long before Hamas was elected, and before a rocket was fired from Gaza,” she said. “I saw ancient olive groves destroyed, lots of farms destroyed.” She showed pictures she took of children in hospitals, some of them with bullets in their backs—they were shot while running away from Israeli soldiers. She began If Americans Knew, a group that researches and reports on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US media, she said, “consistently tell about rockets from Gaza; this is factual. They almost never tell us these rockets came after massive destruction by Israel in Gaza, and the rockets are usually homemade projectiles.”

Twenty-nine Israelis have been killed from the attacks since 2001, she said, and 5,700 Gazans have been killed.

As an example of the pro-Israel bias in U.S. media, Weir gave the example of a story appearing on the website of the Los Angeles Times in 2005, with the headline “Palestinian Suicide Bomber Shatters Calm of Late.” The story stated that the bomber had “shattered a months-long period of relative calm.” Knowing the website story would probably appear in the paper the next morning, Weir contacted the Times to point out that since the last suicide bombing the year before, which had taken three Israeli lives, 170 Palestinian men, women, and children had been killed and another 379 Palestinian men, women, and children injured. The period was one of “relative calm” only for Israelis, Weir pointed out to the editor. He replied, “We said relative calm,” and made no changes in the story.

She noted, “We learn the Israelis’ names, and we grieve, as we should,” but we don’t learn the slain Palestinians’ names. Only when US citizens demand that Congress stop sending Israel’s military about $8 million per day—in a lump sum each year--will Israel negotiate with Palestine, she said. She cautioned that when we hear “two-state solution,” that means 85 percent of the land for Israelis and 15 percent for Palestinians.

Maor insisted, “A two-state solution is an option.” She said that, among Israelis and Palestinians, 50-70 percent of both sides support two independent states. Accenting the fear Israelis feel, she said that during the conflict last summer, “I sat in my kibbutz, frightened,” because of bombardment from Gaza. She advised the audience of about 120 persons, “You have a lot to do, to push for both sides to compromise. We have to build bridges between the people.” Long after the talks and a Q&A period concluded, Maor was still visiting with a native Palestinian who spoke during the Q&A about of the heartbreak of not being able to return to visit his Palestinian relatives until after he obtained US citizenship.

PeaceWorks-KC was a cosponsor of the program.

—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks

Strands in the Web of Life

By Rosemarie Woods

Posted March 17, 2015

“A world that is squalid in one corner is squalid altogether...”
H.G. Wells
In the Days of the Comet

As income inequality widens with wages stagnating or dropping,
unions being demonized,
law enforcement and self-appointed vigilantes gunning down unarmed people of color,
unending wars terrorizing the skies with drones,
money as speech allowing the buying of politicians who are ever more easily attainable,
unknown chemicals being injected into our lands, our waters and our foods as our planet’s climate continues to warm,
We the People of Planet Earth must come together in one strong and united voice: Mother Earth is our only home, and it is our duty to steward Her and all the Life She supports.

Today’s movements seek to put the "the welfare of the people" above corporate interests, unbridled greed and rampant consumerism. Each movement has at its core a common goal: the health and welfare of all of humanity and the Planet we share together.

In Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Jacob Marley tells Scrooge that “mankind is my business, their common welfare is my business.” So it is with each of us. The Earth’s health is our business, our sisters’ and brothers’ welfare is our business. With so many critical issues at stake, We the People must make our common welfare, our shared humanity, and these movements our shared business. Let us support a healthy Planet, let us work for peace, justice, and equality by standing up to injustices of every stripe. We owe this to one another, but more importantly, we owe this to future generations. There is power when people mobilize “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” And there is strength in numbers.

In his speech to the President of the United States, Chief Seattle eloquently stated:
“This we know: The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.  All things are connected like the blood which unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

—Rosemarie Woods, of Kansas City, Mo., is a playwright, educator and activist.

Peace-&-justice letters ring true!

Posted March 15, 2015

PeaceWorks has chosen two letters to The Kansas City Star in a tie for the best peace-&-justice letters of 2014.  Some snippets from 2014 and 2015 letters:

From the November 2014 “Accountability in war” letter by Mary Hladky, writer of one of the first-place letters: “No American has paid increased taxes to pay the upfront costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars were financed by borrowing … passing the true cost of war on to future generations. … Americans … don’t want to serve in our military. Instead, Americans prefer to send the less than 1 percent, who serve multiple tours of duty. … Our mantra appears to be ‘Protect us but don’t tax or involve us.’”

From the September 2014 “Death row sadness” letter by Theresa Maly, writer of the other first-place letter: “We in Missouri have executed eight men in nine months. As of Jan. 1, there were more than 3,000 people living under the sentence of death in this country. … None of the executions has brought the victims back to their loving families and friends. … Each execution creates another grieving family. … The convicted are in the custody of the Department of Corrections, which in Missouri is fast becoming the Department of Executions. Let’s execute justice, not people.”

From the January 2015 “Unaddressed rage” letter by Everett Murphy, M.D.: “The criminal/court systems of Ferguson, Mo., and communities of the like result in decades of frustration, which often leads to some sort of criminal activity. The real problem is poverty, racism and the entrapment of residents in the legal system. What has been recently described as white rage is at the heart of the problem.”

From the January 2015 “Wrongs of torture” letter by Bill O’Neill: “After seeing the movie ‘Unbroken,’ I find it hard to understand how anyone can condone torture in its many manifestations. Yet that is exactly what the Bush-Cheney administration has done. … After 9/11 they chose a path of false expediency rather than honor our society’s commitment of demonstrating mercy and magnanimity to our enemies when faced with evil.”

From the December 2014 “Capital punishment damage” letter by Jim Hannah: “It seems to me we killed a dead man last month. … When the state executed Leon Taylor, the one who died wasn’t Leon Taylor the murderer. He died years ago. … The Leon Taylor we killed … regretted taking a life and tried to atone by bettering himself and the lives of others in prison.”

From the September 2014 “Real war pain” letter by Louann Stahl: “Other people … have shared my wondering about what happens to the children who are exposed for years to the violence, cruelty, death, loss of family and displacement of war. In the Middle East, many children have known nothing but this for years.”

From the September 2014 “KC’s nuclear threat” letter by Georgia Walker: “Last month, government officials and Honeywell leaders dedicated the National Security Campus where nuclear weapon parts will be made and procured. A Honeywell spokesperson said, ‘For more than 65 years, we … have been a responsible partner and employer in the Kansas City Community.’ … What exactly is a responsible employer? Is it one that has exposed its workers to toxic materials, leading to deaths and terminal illnesses? … The new complex is now our very own ‘insecurity campus.’”

From the August 2014 “Freedom Summer II” letter by Rosemarie Wells: “This year marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, when students and clergy descended on Mississippi … to educate African-Americans and register them to vote. … Today, the American Legislative Exchange Council and tea party have pushed restrictive voter-identification laws and limits to early voting. The Supreme Court gutted a critical portion of the Voting Rights Act. … No longer garbed in white sheets, the new dress for racism speaks of ‘welfare queens’ and ‘entitlements,’ promoting anger, fear and distrust. … It’s time for another Freedom Summer to reinstate comprehensive voting rights for all.”

From the August 2014 “Cruel imprisonment” letter by Ken Gates: “America has 5 percent of the world’s total population but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the majority for nonviolent offenses. … It’s ridiculous what some people are sent to prison for. In many cases this leaves children without a parent, families without a bread-winner. … Punishment is not always the answer.”

From the May 2014 “Obama and drones” letter by Arlin Buyert: “President Barack Obama recently sent drones, which killed nine ‘suspected terrorists’ and three civilians. Mr. President, who helped you make this determination? Do you really have the authorization … to kill people in a foreign country?”

From the April 2014 “Costly death penalty” letter by Barbara Mayer: “Curtis McCarty, who had been on death row in Oklahoma for 19 years, recently told his story at Donnelly College. … An FBI investigation found that the Oklahoma City Police Department had falsified DNA evidence in several cases, including his. … There’s a bill in the Kansas Legislature that could repeal the death penalty. It is the only humane thing to do to avoid the possibility of killing innocent persons.”

From the March 2014 “Endangering planet” letter by Henry Stoever: “A global crisis exists with the standoff between Ukraine and Russia, with other world powers involved. I compare this to the 13-day Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. … The world’s citizens must demand a stand-down and immediate freeze of all military actions, lest a nuclear exchange occur, even if limited. … The world should not tolerate destructive power politics that endangers our planet.”

A Future in Prison

By Kathy Kelly

Posted December 27, 2014

At Whiteman AFB 6/1/14, Kathy Kelly & Georgia Walker offer officers bread and an indictment of drone warfare. —Andrew Nelson photo.

The Bureau of Prisons contacted me today (Jan. 22), assigning me a prison number and a new address: for the next 90 days, beginning tomorrow, I’ll live at FMC (Federal Medical Center) Lexington, in the satellite prison camp for women, adjacent to Lexington’s FMC for men. In December, Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in federal prison after Georgia Walker and I had attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base, asking him to stop his troops from piloting lethal drone flights over Afghanistan from within the base. Judge Whitworth allowed me over a month to surrender myself to prison; but whether you are a soldier or a civilian, a target or an unlucky bystander, you can’t surrender to a drone. 

When I was imprisoned at Lexington prison in 1988, after a federal magistrate in Missouri sentenced me to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites, other women prisoners playfully nicknamed me “Missiles.” One of my sisters reliably made me laugh today, texting me to ask if I thought the women this time would call me “Drones.”

It’s good to laugh and feel camaraderie before heading into prison. For someone like me, very nearly saturated in “white privilege” through much of this arrest, trial, and sentencing process, 90% (or more) of my experience will likely depend on attitude. But for many of the people I’ll meet in prison, an initial arrest very likely began with something like a “night raid” staged in Iraq or Afghanistan, complete with armed police surrounding and bursting into their home to remove them from children and families, often with helicopters overhead, sequestering them in a county jail, often with very little oversight to assure that guards and wardens treat them fairly. Some prisoners will not have had a chance to see their children before being shipped clear across the country. Some will not have been given adequate medical care as they adjust to life in prison, possibly going without prescribed medicines and often traumatized by the sudden dissolution of ties with family and community. Some will not have had the means to hire a lawyer and may not have learned much about their case from an overworked public defender.

In the U.S., the criminal justice system disproportionately incarcerates people of color for petty offences. Many take plea bargains under threat of excessive, punitive sentences. If I were a young black male, the U.S. penal system quite likely would not have allowed me to turn myself in to a federal prison camp.

I’ll be incarcerated in a satellite camp outside a medical facility where I expect the wards are crowded with geriatric patients. How bleak and unnecessary it is to confine people for decades. My friend Brian Terrell, who was incarcerated in Yankton, SD, for six months after crossing the line at Whiteman AFB, told me that while in prison he saw signs on the walls recruiting prisoners to train for medically assisting geriatric male prisoners. I shudder to think of our culture’s pervading callousness, pointlessly consigning so many aged people to languish in prison.

I will be free in three months, but our collective future is most assuredly shackled to a wrongheaded criminal justice system. I hope this compulsively vengeful and diseased criminal justice system will change during my lifetime. And I hope that my short sojourn inside Lexington’s prison walls will help me better understand and perhaps help shed some small light on the systems that affect other people trapped there.

During recent visits with concerned communities focused on drone warfare, many have helped me see a connection between the drone killings across Central Asia and the Middle East and the casual executions and incarceration of young black males in our own country.

In Afghanistan, where the noise of air strikes and civil war have faded to the buzz of drones and the silence of empty promises, our friends in the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs) continue their peace-building efforts. Last week, eighty street children walked from the APV center to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission office to assert their right to education. Their signs expressed their determination to help create a school for street children. One sign said, “We don’t want your charity. We want dignity.”

Our young friends wish to provide a better life for the very children whose only other ways off the streets may well include joining the Taliban, criminal gangs, or some other militia. Meanwhile, the United States’ vengeful stance as a nation, concerned with protecting its wealth and status at all costs and its safety above all considerations of equity or reason, destroys the lives of the impoverished at home as it destroys those abroad.

The “Black Lives Matter” protests need our support, as do the March 4-6 protests to “Shut Down Creech” Air Force Base. Our friends in the Afghan Peace Volunteers will continue to do vital work for peace and solidarity, in Kabul, that needs our support. It’s encouraging to know that thousands upon thousands of committed people seek and find work to make our world less like a prison for our neighbors and ourselves.

My address for the next three months is:
Kathy Kelly 04971-045
P.O. BOX 14525

—Kathy Kelly co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence. For more information, please contact VCNV at 

One drone resister gets 3 months in prison, one gets probation

Posted December 26, 2014

Kathy Kelly, left, and Georgia Walker exit the Jefferson City courthouse, into the dark, after their all-day trial. Photo by Jane Stoever

JEFFERSON CITY, MO.—Two civil resisters crossed a line on the entry road to Whiteman Air Force Base (WAFB) near Knob Noster, Mo., on June 1. They offered the guards bread and an indictment of all doing drone warfare, including remote control of drones from WAFB. The defendants and lawyers spoke boldly during the trial, despite prosecutors’ objections. The prosecution stuck to “a straightforward case of criminal trespass.”

Prosecutors called for 6 months in federal prison for Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Non-Violence. Prosecutors sought 3 months in prison for Georgia Walker, director of Journey to New Life, which helps former prisoners find housing and jobs in Kansas City, Mo. … yes, new life. In the end, Judge Matt Whitworth gave Kelly 3 months in federal prison, to begin Jan. 23, and sentenced Walker to a year’s probation and told her to stay 500 feet away from any military base. The lighter-than-expected sentences completed the day of courtroom conflict.

Early in the trial, Ruth O’Neill—the Columbia, Mo., lawyer representing Walker—told Whitworth, “My client, Georgia Walker, was compelled by her convictions to join a demonstration … to make her grievances known (concerning drone killings of civilians). … She was apprehended on a public thoroughfare that has a large sign, ‘Welcome to Whiteman.’”

Capt. John Sullivan of WAFB said he read the protest group, 60 strong, a “proclamation” from the base commander June 1. It said no one could pass a line on the entry road. Sullivan said officers had learned there would be a Trifecta Resista (a PeaceWorks-led weekend of peace actions), so he had “10 extra law enforcement folks on hold and about 40 other disturbance management folks” hidden behind a fence.

O’Neill asked, “Was anybody—including the two women—belligerent to anyone?”

“No one, ma’am,” said Sullivan. “They were very polite.”

“Does the proclamation say anything about bringing a gift of food?” she asked.

“No, ma’am.”

“Does the proclamation say anything about a writing?”

“No, ma’am.”

In cross-examination, lawyer Henry Stoever of PeaceWorks-KC, representing Kelly, asked Sullivan, “Is Squadron 20 part of the base?”

“Objection! Not relevant,” said Prosecutor Capt. Daniel Saunders. But the judge allowed the question.

So Stoever asked whether Sullivan knew Squadron 20 worked with drones at the base. “Objection! Not relevant,” repeated Saunders. Again, the judge allowed the question.

“The public can come to the guard station?” Stoever asked, noting the regular entry of chaplains, service members, their relatives, and people making deliveries at the station about 25 yards from the line on the road. “Those with lawful purposes or prior permission,” said Sullivan, referring to a regulation.

“Capt. Sullivan, is it just peace groups that you send someone out to, to speak about regulations?” asked Stoever. “Since I’ve been here (about 2 years),” Sullivan said.

As Saunders questioned Sullivan, Saunders asked, “Do people who come to the base normally bring bread with them?” Sullivan said no. In the gallery, Catholic Worker Steve Jacobs, of Columbia, Mo., fresh from heart surgery Dec. 5, murmured, “These are not normal times.”

Staff Sgt. Colvin Hicks, during his testimony, said he was part of the apprehension team of 10. “We tried to stop them from getting all the way on the base,” he said. “Staff Sgt. Bergen repeatedly asked them to turn around. They kept offering us the bread, and they wanted to break bread with us.”

Stoever noted the proclamation was not signed, not dated, and the arresting officer was not in court to testify. O’Neill moved for acquittal.

In the afternoon, O’Neill questioned Walker, who explained, “We wanted to deliver an indictment to the commander on the base, but in a friendly way. When we went to the line, there wasn’t anyone to give our bread and indictment to. Our intent was not a demonstration but a dialogue. … What we were doing was to petition the government with our grievances. We were grieved about the killing of women and children from that base. A woman approached us and said, ‘You can’t go any further.’ I said, ‘We don’t want to go further. We just want to talk.”

O’Neill asked, concerning the arrest and processing, “How did you react?”

“I was shocked,” said Walker. “I expected to have a dialogue. I have a long history of writing articles (about peace issues) and sending letters to the president, the secretary of defense, and The Kansas City Star. I was perplexed. How do you present a grievance?”

Walker added, “I’ve been concerned about the large amount of civilians being killed. I object to extrajudicial killing, outside a court. It’s immoral, illegal, and unconscionable.”

O’Neill asked Walker, “Was it your purpose to commit trespass or any crime?”

“No,” said Walker. “I was acting urgently. Probably as I was speaking, people were being terrorized by drones.” Saunders objected, and the judge sustained his objection.

Soon, Kathy Kelly took the witness stand, giving background: “I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan, Gaza and the West Bank, Lebanon, Bosnia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and several other countries because there were wars raging in those countries.”

Stoever noted, “You were carrying a loaf of bread.”

She replied, “Particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq, every meal includes baking bread. I’ve been with people who’ve been in bombardments from drones, and they would understand the statement of that bread. We wished they (the guards) would help us share bread with the commander. … The people I was with (in the Mideast) were trapped. Knowing as much as I did about great loss and terror, I felt I should exercise my right” to free speech and presentation of a grievance to the government.

The prosecution objected. Whitworth overruled the objection, then said, “I understand her reason but don’t think it’s relevant.”

Trying to refer to a UN report on drone killings of civilians, Kelly said, “I do believe in international law as something we should pay attention to. The Special Rapporteur for the UN …” The prosecution objected, and Whitworth sustained the objection.

Stoever referred to Kelly’s “rap sheet” of earlier resistance prepared by the government and not shared with the defense until noon that day. “What do you have to say about these (arrests)?” he asked.

“We have a right to claim our right not to kill,” insisted Kelly. “I’ve lived alongside people in war zones while the bombs are exploding. It’s been a great privilege to be involved with these communities.” 

Saunders said the defendants were “put on notice by the proclamation, the signage, and the security forces team. The defendants violated the federal statute (against trespass). These restrictions exist to secure the safety of the base. I ask that you find the defendants guilty.”

In defense of Walker, O’Neill dealt with the federal statute, and said the government needed to prove a person went on the base “for a harmful or unlawful purpose. … The evidence shows Georgia Walker was apprehended well before she got to the Visitors’ Center. We ask you to find Georgia Walker not guilty.”

In defense of Kelly, Stoever argued, “If we compartmentalize anything, we get the results we want. Cowards do that by saying, ‘You crossed over’ a line. Our Constitution protects the due process of law. Kathy Kelly has first-hand, personal knowledge of the effects of drone warfare. We do not have deeds that prove ownership (at the site of the action). We have a proclamation that is not dated, not signed. I don’t know who the complainant is because no one came forth as a witness.” He added, “We have global forces at stake. Great injustices are being done. Yesterday, a 500-page torture report came out.”

“Objection!” said the prosecutor. The judge said the torture report was not part of the case.

Capt. Saunders summarized, “The commander denied them access. He knew their purpose. It could interfere with base operations. Ms. Kelly and Ms. Walker knew the consequences. We ask that they be found guilty.”

“There’s no doubt these two ladies were peaceful,” said Whitworth. “Nevertheless, it’s critical that military bases have security, and that security (be) backed up by the court. … When they met with base officials, they made a conscious decision to stay there. I find them guilty of violating the statute beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Capt. Saunders recommended 3 months’ confinement for Walker, plus 5 years of unsupervised probation, plus court fines. “Given the blatant nature of the affront, she needs to be punished—not only to deter her from doing this again, but also to deter others. The government recommends confinement so she can reflect and hopefully not do it again.”

After a break, Walker quietly told supporters she expected incarceration. Kelly’s supporters said they expected 4-6 months’ imprisonment for Kelly, in view of her record.

O’Neill requested time before incarceration for Walker to arrange supervision for about 125 clients in her housing program. “With all due respect,” Walker told the court, “I’m not a legal expert, but I am an expert on re-entry (from prison). The cutting edge for the last two decades has been to keep people in the community. … I’ve worked to give people a voice that don’t have a voice.”

“I’m not going to impose a sentence of incarceration,” Whitworth interjected, saying he didn’t want Walker to continue to fear she was going to prison. He said, “She has done many good works in her employment.” He ordered a year of probation, supervised, with the condition that she not come within 500 feet of any military installation or base.

The prosecution called for 6 months in prison for Kelly, adding, “We have no problem with protest, as long as it takes place in the right place.”

Stoever noted that Kelly’s arrest in 2010 for resistance at Creech Air Force Base led to a sentence of time served: 1 day. “Yes, she has a long history (of civil resistance), and our country does!” said Stoever. He noted the abolitionists, women suffragists, the civil rights movement, and Viet Nam War resisters.

Kelly told Whitworth, “We all have a grave responsibility to bring grievances before the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch.” Swishing her scarf and turning to face about 20 supporters in the courtroom, Kelly declared, “This scarf says ‘Border Free,’ one of many scarves made by girls in Afghanistan. Flying over the supposed borders of their land have been weaponized drones. Many people bought these scarves last night in Kansas City, and some here today are wearing them.” Then facing Whitworth, she said, “We do have a responsibility to protect security. I quote Gen. (Stanley) McChrystal (former US commander in Afghanistan): ‘The aggressive and arrogant use of drone warfare jeopardizes the security of the United States.’ I’ve been at the side of a 9-year-old girl whose arm was blown off by a drone. I’ve said (to Afghani people), ‘I’ll do what I can to bring your grievances to my government.’ We tried to speak up today on behalf of people impoverished and entrapped.”

“I believe from the bottom of my heart in free speech,” said Whitworth, “but everybody in this country has to follow the law. You made the conscious decision to trespass. In nine separate cases, you have been convicted for similar charges, with several federal convictions. Clearly you have not been deterred. There is a message that should be sent.” He ordered Kelly to 3 months in a federal prison.

The next day, Brian Terrell, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, said, “At the end of the day, the judge and prosecutors spoke only of the rehabilitation potential of two errant women. Perhaps 3 months of contemplation would help Georgia Walker realize the mistakes she has made. If it is too late to make an honest woman of Kathy Kelly, a stiff sentence for her might warn impressionable young people not to make her mistake.” Terrell crossed the line at WAFB in the 2012 Trifecta Resista, was tried by Whitworth, and served 6 months in a prison camp for resisting drone warfare.

The Dec. 11 Voices for Creative Non-Violence news release reported, “In testimony, Kathy Kelly, who recently returned from Afghanistan, recounted her conversation with an Afghan mother whose son, a recent police academy graduate, was killed by a drone as he sat with colleagues in a garden. ‘I’m educated and humbled by experiences talking with people who’ve been trapped and impoverished by US warfare,’ said Kelly. ‘The US prison system also traps and impoverishes people. In coming months, I’ll surely learn more about who goes to prison and why.’”

—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks

Georgia Walker, Kathy Kelly speak in KC on night before putting drones on trial

Posted December 26, 2014

Georgia Walker, Photo by Jim Hannah

On the eve of their court hearing for trespass, drone protestors Georgia Walker and Kathy Kelly spoke Dec. 9 to 65 supporters in a crowded Conover Hall in Kansas City, Mo. They shed light on the events of June 1, when they were arrested for their peace witness at Whiteman Air Force Base.

“We had no intention to trespass,” said Walker. “We just wanted to break bread and serve an indictment on illegal and immoral drones, which need to be stopped. If they had just taken our bread and petition, we wouldn’t be in court. The so-called line we crossed is not there (for all practical purposes) except when there is a protest.”

In criticizing the human rights violations of drones, Walker noted that in US history  “there is absolutely no historical precedent for the war on terror—going anywhere we want to chase down anyone we think might be a terrorist. We don’t even admit we have made a drone strike—a flagrant violation of human rights. Innocent people should have the right to be compensated—but in many courtrooms, you can’t even mention the word drone.”

Kathy Kelly, Photo by Jim Hannah

Kelly underscored similar human rights violations in the use of drones, drawing a parallel between those killed without due process here in the United States, and those killed by drones abroad.  Only three percent of accused persons in the US take their case to trial, she said, instead plea bargaining for fear of stiffer punishments. Both they and those killed by drones are denied due process, she said.

Kelly also described as “untruthful” the term surgical strikes used to describe drone attacks. She cited a recent British report about drone use in Yemen and Pakistan designed for specific assassinations, but instead killing civilians in a ratio of 28 to 1.

Both Walker and Kelly urged persistence as the key to effective peace witness. “That’s what ended the war in Viet Nam,” Walker said, “people in the streets.”

Kelly similarly noted that if the thousands who had turned out to protest the start of the Iraq War had stayed in the streets, the UN weapons inspectors’ conclusions, revealing the absence of weapons of mass destruction, might have come out in time to stop the war. “If we don’t speak up,” Walker said, “they’ll just keep generating the fear. And we all know that violence is never overcome by violence. It just keeps escalating.”

—By Jim Hannah of PeaceWorks

Drones on trial
Save dates: 12/9 (pm, KC), 12/10 (all day, Jeff City)

Posted November 13, 2014

Kathy Kelly (left) and Georgia Walker are arrested June 1 at Whiteman Air Force Base, offering bread and an indictment against drone warfare. The guards took the bread, not the indictment. Photo by Andrew Nelson.

Kathy Kelly (of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, based in Chicago) and Georgia Walker (of Journey to New Life, in Kansas City, MO) were arrested June 1 at Whiteman Air Force Base for peacefully protesting drone warfare. At Whiteman and about 40 other U.S. bases, officers guide killer drones by remote control to their destinations in the Mideast, killing targeted persons and many not targeted, just nearby. 

Now Kathy and Georgia are putting drones on trial.

How so? Through a trial at the federal courthouse in Jefferson City, MO, all day Wednesday, Dec. 10, and through pretrial events in KC Dec. 9. PeaceWorks-KC sponsored the Trifecta Resista May 30-June 1, including the witness at Whiteman AFB, near Knob Noster, MO. Now PeaceWorks is asking you: Join us Dec. 9-10, in support of Kathy and Georgia.

The schedule:

Dec. 9, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, KCMO

4:30 pm   Interfaith Pray Service with Deacon Georgia Walker & Womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska

5:30 pm   Community meal—BBQ & veggies; also bring canned goods for the hungry 

6:30 pm   Talks/Q&A with Kathy Kelly, Georgia Walker, & Col. Ann Wright re remote control of drones from U.S. 

Dec. 10, Federal Courthouse, 80 Lafayette St., Jefferson City, MO

5:30 am   Carpool to Jeff City from KC (Carpool contact: Jane Stoever, 913-206-4088)

9 am    Trial begins; may last all day!

Your chore:

Set aside time/energy/love for these events. Join us Dec. 9 for prayer, food, phenomenal talks/Q&A. Journey to Jeff City for a trial where truth will shine, a trial that may lead to 4-6 months in jail for Kathy, hopefully far less for Georgia. Contact Jane now to say you’re “in” on this work for peace!

Great news!
Whiteman AFB drops charges against Tamara Severns

By Rosemarie Woods

Posted September 6, 2014

Tamara Severns after release from arrest April 6

On April 6, PeaceWorks members and others gathered outside Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Mo., to rally against drone warfare. Previously, people attending a rally outside the base had been allowed to use the restroom facilities at the Visitor’s Center on the base. Tamara Severns arrived at Whiteman after the others. She immediately headed for the Visitor's Center facilities. Upon crossing onto military property, Tamara was unexpectedly arrested for trespassing.

She was handcuffed and taken to a room after experiencing less than gentle treatment on the sidewalk. The first guard forced Tamara to move by tightening and tugging on her handcuffs. “You're hurting me; these are too tight,” Tamara said. Her numerous complaints earned no response, only an unyielding grip on the handcuffs. Not until a female guard intervened were the handcuffs loosened. Tamara was searched and released after an hour and a half.

Two hours later, the welts from the tightening of the handcuffs remained on her wrists.
Four months and six days later, on Aug. 12, Tamara received word from lawyer Ruth O’Neill of Columbia, Mo., that the case had been dismissed without prejudice. Tamara responded: “Great news!”

Ruth explained in an e-mail: “This means that, while the base could refile the charges, they are unlikely to do so. One thing that would likely have them refile would be if Tamara entered the base without permission within a year of the original citation. No ban and bar letter, just a warning.” She advised Tamara, “You should be fine as long as you remain on the civilian side of the property line.”

“Making people wait so long ... it’s a way to punish people,” Tamara reflected. “They wanted to inflict a little punishment on me, and it worked. It was hard to wait.” She added, “I also think they didn’t want me to speak up in court about the guy who was way too rough. When we went back to the base for the next rally (on June 1), I told a guard that I had pictures of my wrist showing marks on it.”

Tamara had no idea that by going to the Whiteman Air Force Base Visitor's Center on April 6, she would be risking arrest. Having charges against her dropped comes as a major relief for her. This ordeal, which dragged on for months, has caused her much emotional stress. Because military bases are under federal regulation, Tamara feared having a federal charge and losing her nursing license.

Because no one on April 6 witnessed for Tamara, PeaceWorks members made a special effort to train people for the Trifecta Resista rallies over the May 30-June 1 weekend and plan to always look out and be present for each other at future events.

—Rosemarie Woods is a playwright, educator, and activist in Kansas City, Mo.

U.S. mayors speak out for abolition of nuclear weapons

Posted August 19, 2014

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) on June 23 unanimously adopted a sweeping new resolution calling for U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums at the annual USCM meeting in Texas. 

The USCM acknowledged the Mayors for Peace ( vision: elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020. Mayors for Peace now includes 6,000 members in 158 countries. The resolution notes, “Mayors for Peace … can be a real force for peace.” The USCM “calls on the U.S. to demonstrate a good-faith commitment under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)… at the May 2015 NPT Review Conference, and to press the other nuclear weapon states to do likewise.” 

Israel's drones

Ian Munro

Posted August 14, 2014

The United States isn’t the only country using armed drones to carry out “extrajudicial executions” that cause the death of innocent civilians. A report by United Nations Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson, released in March, identifies 30 drone strikes in which more than 300 civilians died. Twenty-two strikes were carried out by the U.S., one by the United Kingdom, and seven by Israel. Emmerson’s report calls for public explanation of the strikes. By early summer, none of the three countries had responded. Indeed, Israel has never admitted using armed drones, just as it has never admitted having nuclear weapons.

Israel’s use of drones goes back to the 1970s. It is now a major producer of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and related technology sold to almost 50 countries. Israel has used surveillance drones over neighboring countries, including Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as flying them continuously over Gaza and the West Bank, creating a serious psychological impact on the daily lives of Palestinians.

Emmerson’s accounting was deliberately exemplary and incomplete. Other reports say an estimated 286 to 890 civilians have been killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan alone, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports that 825 people have been killed by Israeli drones in Gaza since 2006, most of them civilians.

During Operation Cast Lead in 2008, 116 children died from missiles launched by drones, according to Defense for Children International. Human Rights Watch reported on seven drone strikes during Israel’s Pillar of Defense operation in 2012 that violated the laws of war. One strike killed three men in a truck carrying tomatoes; another killed a science teacher sitting in his front yard with his 3-year-old son on his lap. In another attack, a father, his 12-year-old daughter, and his 19-year-old son were killed while picking spearmint in their garden.

Israel, like the U.S., claims the right to carry out extrajudicial execution of its “enemies” anywhere, but the net effect of armed drone strikes, with the inevitable killing and injuring of innocent civilians, is only to multiply the number of enemies.

Ian Munro, of Citizens for Justice in the Middle East, is retired from his work as an English professor at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. Editor’s note: In the 2014 war with Palestine, Israel has used drone warfare, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.


Drone Wars UK:

Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

Emmerson report:

Executions ‘on a roll’

By Louis Rodemann

Posted August 12, 2014

The podium from which speakers addressed members of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP) on June 14 had a simple display of six candles in memory of victims of consecutive monthly executions from November 2013 to April 2014. On June 18, another man was executed, and on July 16 ... yet another!

The Missouri prison/political system, led by Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster, is on a roll to execute as many as possible during Nixon’s and Koster’s terms. Even though a poll found nearly half of Missourians favoring life in prison without parole, instead of execution, advocacy groups have not been able to move legislators to enact legislation reflecting citizen opinion.         

The annual MADP gathering, this year in Kansas City, Mo., drew about 60 members from across the state. They celebrated accomplishments, including: 

--Reggie Griffin was the 143rd person in the U.S. to be exonerated and freed from death row since l973;

--scrutiny of lethal injection procedures in Missouri is shining light on this inhumane practice; 

--the scheduled May execution of Russell Bucklew was halted;

--the picketing of a Tulsa, OK, pharmacy sparked news stories in Tulsa and KC and helped halt the pharmacy’s sale of pentobarbital to the Missouri Department of Corrections. Notre Dame Sister Theresa Maly of PeaceWorks-KC was one of the MADP leaders who talked with the Tulsa pharmacy staff and picketed.

Keynote speaker Sean O’Brien, a professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City and a public defender since 1983, said that just as the most dangerous time in war is right before a cease-fire, when countries hurry to grab more land or other resources, so we are “witnessing the last gasps of the death penalty in Missouri,” evidenced by the rate of recent executions. From 1933 to 1989 (57 years), Missouri executed 34 persons. From 1990 to July 2014 (25 years), 80 have been executed. The rate quadrupled in recent decades.

Contributing to this escalation is the hijacking of the death penalty by the political system, taking it away from the justice system, said O’Brien. Ironically, Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft (later U.S. Attorney General) facilitated this process by stacking the state’s Supreme Court with pro-life judges who proceeded to uphold executions. O’Brien’s tongue-in-cheek critique: “Killing is necessary to show our respect for life.”

All this is confronted by a recent national poll that found 90 percent of jurors AND prosecutors favoring a life sentence without parole over the death penalty, and 54 percent of the general public indicating the same preference.                                                                       

O’Brien urged MADP members to persevere in “chipping away” at the death penalty from all fronts, citing victories in the areas of juvenile defendants, the mentally challenged, and most recently, the issue of the inhumane treatment of lethal injection.

Studies have proven that the death penalty is not a deterrent. O’Brien called for moving our moral energy and financial resources away from revenge, penalty, and retribution, and toward substantive programs for concrete personal rehabilitation.

O’Brien emphasized the need to advocate that abolition of the death penalty is a nonviolent, pro-life issue, and said it is sad but true that “lawyers (and all of us) have to help our bishops find their conscience.”

It’s imperative that we all become engaged in this moral issue for, in the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (in Kennedy vs. Louisiana), “when law penalizes by death, we run the risk of losing decency and restraint and having humanity reduced to brutality.”

Christian Brother Louis Rodemann, an MADP member, lives in KCMO as part of Holy Family Catholic Worker Community. 

Resisters offer bread and an indictment to Whiteman AFB officers

Posted June 22, 2014

Photos by Shane Franklin, Sooper Hooper, Andrew Nelson, Ann Suellentrop, and Anonymous.

On Sunday, June 1, about 50 of us Trifecta Resista participants went to Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Mo., to protest drone warfare. Killer drones are guided by remote control from Whiteman AFB, and B2 nuclear bombers are also there.

Georgia Walker of the PeaceWorks Board (for the second day in a row) and Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, were arrested for trespass. See video below.

They gave large loaves of bread to the Air Force officers after crossing the property line. Using the megaphone, Tamara Severns of the PeaceWorks Board called from the base entry area, “They offer you bread, the bread of peace,” and we sang, “Let Us Break Bread Together.” When Kathy asked the officers to give their commander an indictment against all U.S. drone warfare, the officers refused, putting the indictment in Kathy’s bag to be returned to her.

As Georgia and Kathy walked, handcuffed, toward the Visitors Center for processing, Tamara called to the officers, “Be careful with our peacemakers. They come to you in peace.” Addressing Georgia and Kathy, Tamara called, “We’re with you guys. We’ll be out here singing and praying and thinking of you.” Tamara had been arrested by surprise at a drone protest April 7 as she walked to the Visitors Center to use the bathroom, unaware that she was not allowed to use the facility we had used before.

s Georgia and Kathy were processed quickly at the base and are waiting to learn their court date, just as Tamara is.

When asked earlier about the logic of crossing the line at Whiteman AFB, with a likely sentence of 4-6 months in prison, Kathy replied, “It’s impossible to find actions commensurate with the crimes being committed in wars and preparation for wars. When trillions of dollars and needed ingenuity and scientific skills are controlled by militaries, societies can’t meet human needs. Commensurate actions elude us. But we can each do what we can. I hope our action at Whiteman will heighten awareness of how urgently our voices are needed.”

Anti-drone activist Col. Ann Wright spoke to us via phone before the line-crossing, saying, “It is so important we continue to challenge the Obama Administration about these terrible drones. It’s at our own peril” that we continue to fly them throughout the world, killing people.

By Ann Suellentrop and Jane Stoever of the PeaceWorks Board

Video from Demonstration at Whiteman AFB

Witness for the witnesses: learning as we go

By Lu Mountenay

Posted June 23, 2014

Tamara speaks with Whiteman AFB officers June 1. Photo by Shane Franklin.

I am reliving yesterday, June 1, as our group of 60 protestors intentionally observed the actions of two witnesses for justice and peace. Georgia Walker and Kathy Kelly witnessed to armed guards and police by presenting loaves of bread as a peace-offering at Whiteman AFB, from which drones are sent to targets by remote control. Georgia and Kathy crossed over the line onto military property, after being clearly warned of arrest if they took such action. We all witnessed the arrests with a myriad of emotions, thoughts, and prayers.

“We’re watching you, Georgia and Kathy. We are your witnesses,” we called out. “We’re watching you, guards, as well. Take care of them, please. Listen to what they have to say. Respect them.

“Thank you, guards, for being gentle. They mean you no harm. We mean you no harm.

“We’re with you, brave women. Go with God.”

Womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska raised the loudspeaker: “They just can’t stand by while men and women are killed without due process. They can’t stand by and see innocent children burn and die.”

Two brave women witnessed to the guards, witnessed to the protestors. They witness to anyone who reads of this in the news or watches it in the social media. They’ll witness to the judge and anyone in hearing distance. We hope it is also a witness to the people of Afghanistan and all those who live in fear of the drone strikes—we are trying to make a difference on your behalf. The civil resisters have made a difference in the lives of all who watched them yesterday. We are better, stronger, braver, and even more determined than ever not to remain silent, and therefore, complicit.

Tamara's sidekick Cheyenne, our Peace Dog. Photo by Shane Franklin.

However, it hasn’t always happened this way. We are learning to be better witnesses. At the previous protest, one of our own fell through the cracks of community watch-care. Tamara Severns, who came to do legal witness, had not been present to hear the warning of the guard. She separated from the group to go to the visitor’s center (across the line), as had been done in the past with no consequence. She was arrested unceremoniously, roughly, without warning, and without witnesses. She was not listened to by the guards. She was on her own. There was no plan in place for what to do in such a case.

Tamara, as well as Georgia and Kathy, is a brave witness. With much forethought and training the days before the June 1 protest, we learned better how to witness for the witnesses. Even the guards learned from the arrest of Tamara—they now are willing to repeat the warnings as many times as needed for the new people arriving—for anyone who has not heard.

We hear you now, Tamara! We did better on June 1, and will do better next time. We are with you … you will not be left alone as your defense continues.    

Lu Mountenay serves on the PeaceWorks Board.

Pardon for Chelsea Manning!

Posted June 14, 2014

Photos by Jim Hannah, Shane Franklin, and Sooper Hooper.

About 50 Trifecta Resista peace activists gathered early May 31 at the gate of Fort Leavenworth, in Leavenworth, KS, to call for pardon for Pvt. Chelsea Manning. She is there serving the first of 35 years after her court-martial, and she has successfully petitioned to be called Chelsea instead of Bradley Manning. The group sang and shared the megaphone. See a video of the rally and, for photos by Sooper Hooper and Shane Franklin, see The Trifecta Resista Facebook page.

Deb Van Poolen from Montana, who attended each day of Chelsea’s court-martial last year, said, “The U.S. considers that every person held over 15 days in solitary is subjected to torture. She was held over 90 days. Also, she did not receive a speedy trial. She was in jail 3 years before she had her trial. She is a symbol for someone who blew the whistle on war crimes. People in the military need to hear from us: If you want to take a stand to highlight war crimes, we want to support you.”

Sahj Kaya of PeaceWorks insisted, “Chelsea allowed us to see where our tax dollars were being used to murder innocent people. She exposed how our slave-labor dollars are being used to kill innocent people. All these people who are lying are exposed!”

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, reflected, “There's a desire we feel to release Chelsea. But we also have to release ourselves from the chains of considering ourselves exceptional,” beyond international law.

Ann Suellentrop of PeaceWorks talked about visiting Chelsea’s relatives: “Chelsea spent her middle-school years in Wales, and her aunt and uncle (from Wales) are glad we're rallying here” and don't want Chelsea forgotten.

Henry Stoever of PeaceWorks said Daniel Ellsberg has been vindicated for exposing the Pentagon Papers from the Vietnam War. Stoever said, “In the history books, we will have great shame when it is revealed what our country has done ... to kill for foreign oil. ... We need to keep Chelsea’s memory alive.”

The Trifecta Resista May 30-June 1, sponsored by PeaceWorks-KC, sought pardons for Chelsea and Greg Boertje-Obed (serving 5 years at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth for the “Transform Now Plowshares” civil resistance at Oak Ridge, TN. Other Trifecta events included demonstrations and civil resistance against nuclear weapons and killer drones. 

Video of Chelsea Manning Rally

Pardon for Greg Boertje-Obed!

Posted June 14, 2014

Photos by Jim Hannah

About 40 persons rallied May 31 at the entry to the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., to call for pardon for Greg Boertje-Obed. He is there serving his first of about five years for participating in the Y-12 Transform Now Plowshares action against nuclear weapons at the uranium storage site in Oak Ridge, Tenn. 

Janice Sevre-Duszynska of Lexington, Ky., attended the 2013 trial and the January and February proceedings for sentencing Greg and his colleagues, Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli. Janice said at the May 31 rally that many people in the pool for the jury trial were police or in the military or related to officers. The jury of 10 men and 2 women, in less than two hours, found the three defendants guilty of felony charges. Janice noted that Greg was an Army vet, had 2 tours in Vietnam, and came home saying we shouldn’t as a nation have such domination over people. Janice also shared Greg’s statement that Jesus was all about forming community, sharing this planet, and leaving it a better place for our children.

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, recalled visiting   Brent Betterly, a NATO 3 defendant who awaited sentencing in Chicago’s Cook County jail.  He said he’d seen a prison guard carrying the book, The New Jim Crow. Conversation about the book led to many exchanges. Brent said he began to see “beyond the badge.” He felt that the prison guard’s perspective could also change.

“All the money we pour into nuclear weapons keeps us from having funds for education, health care, and housing,” Kathy added. “This represents serious theft by the nuclear weapons industry, just as Eisenhower once said. But those who sound the alarm, such as Greg, Michael, Megan and Chelsea (Manning), go to prison. For going into the belly of the beast, we thank you, Greg!” 

Brian Terrell, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, participated in the 2012 Trifecta Resista civil resistance against drone warfare at Whiteman AFB near Knob Noster, Mo. At the May 31 rally for Greg, Brian highlighted the importance of civil resistance, saying that after the 2012 Whiteman AFB action, “I was assigned to the federal prison in Yankton, S.D. We have a Catholic Worker House in Yankton. The day before I surrendered, the Catholic Worker House gave me a send-off party, and a reporter for the Yankton paper was there. The next day, the front page headlined, ‘Terrell Says Drone Strikes Must Stop.’ When I got to the prison, all the guys had read it. It started an immediate conversation. As I walked into the library, one of the inmates was reading it aloud to others. Everyone wanted to talk about it. Over the six months I was in prison, stories about drone resistance went across the country, and people brought me clippings, saying, ‘I got this in the mail. Do you want it?’”

Brian said of his six months, “It was a fruitful and alive time.”

The peace activists at the rally were participating in Trifecta Resista May 30-June 1 to call for pardon for Greg and Chelsea, to decry the contaminants at the old nuclear weapons parts plant in Kansas City, Mo., and to oppose the drone warfare conducted by remote control from Whiteman Air Force Base.

By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks-KC

Tamara Severns of PeaceWorks-KC arrested by surprise at drone protest

Posted April 9, 2014

Tamara Severns. Photo by Mike Schilling.

Tamara Severns of Kansas City, Mo., was arrested unexpectedly during an April 6 protest of drone warfare at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, Mo. A member of the PeaceWorks, Kansas City, Board of Directors and a Co-member of the Loretto Community, Tamara was walking toward the Visitors’ Center to use the bathroom. She and other resisters had used those facilities with no problem during about five earlier protests. On April 6, Tamara and several others had arrived at the base entry after authorities had warned the resisters not to step across the white line on the entry road. Unaware that “the rules” had changed, Tamara crossed the line to go toward the Visitors’ Center, was taken into custody with no warning, and was handcuffed, searched, and detained on the base about an hour.

“The officer said, ‘Turn around. You’re being arrested,’ and clamped the metal handcuffs on my wrists,” Tamara said after her release. “They gave me no warning to leave the property.” Her wrists still showed red marks two hours after the handcuffs were removed. A male officer twisted the chain between her handcuffs to direct her where to walk and to hurt her, Tamara said. “I was scared because he was being so rough.”

Tamara received a U.S. District Court Violation Notice for “trespassing on military installation” and expects to be summoned to court. Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, a speaker at the rally, said later he hoped the charges would be dropped because the usual drill of warnings typically required to get a conviction for trespass was neglected. Tamara said she fears she will receive a court date because the officers told her she would, and the ticket says she will.

One complicating factor: Officer John Sullivan, who was debriefing the protesters, had gotten inaccurate information from someone else, said Tamara. Sullivan told protest organizer Jeff Stack that another security officer said Tamara had tried to go around the driver’s side of the police car toward the Visitor’s Center after being advised not to. The truth, said Tamara, was that she never left the sidewalk on the right side of the car and no one said anything except “You’re being arrested.”

Protester Vicke Hooper Kepling, on her Facebook page April 7, wrote this about Tamara: “She walked to the bathrooms ... like she had done at other protests ... AND GOT TICKETED (detained, felt up, the works). I said “ticketed,” but I believe she was actually arrested. I woke up thinking about it. She may face the same fate as the three who intentionally crossed two years ago. One actually did six months in federal prison, and the other got five years probation (reduced to one). I wasn't putting the same weight on it because of her intention (and that she and others had used the restrooms before). But after reconsideration, I bet it’s the same.”

Former CIA intelligence analyst Ray McGovern, who spoke during the rally, said afterwards, “It’s so obvious Tamara’s civil rights under the First Amendment have been violated. Somebody said to this officer, ‘Make an example of Tamara and brutalize her,’ and he did.”

—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks-KC

Talks, tears highlight rally vs. drones at Whiteman AFB April 6

Posted April 9, 2014

Protesters gather at the Whiteman AFB entry under the shadow of a model drone. Photo by Mike Schilling

Bearing witness against remote control of Reaper drones from U.S. military bases, about 20 protesters rallied Sunday, April 6, at the Spirit Gate entry to Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Mo.

Noting the name Whiteman Air Force Base, former CIA intelligence analyst Ray McGovern in his talk said, “When B2 bombers flew out of here to Afghanistan and Iraq, they weren’t killing people who looked like us (white), but who were what the airmen were taught to call ‘sand niggers’ or ‘towel-heads.’ White-man is killing brown, black, and other men, women, and children who don’t look like us. White-man Air Force Base is a reflection of the American original sin, racism.”

McGovern recalled that President Obama on May 17, 2013, said he wished he could stop drone strikes. “Gimme a break,” said McGovern. “The president could stop the strikes if he had the backbone.” Acknowledging that he was in the Bible Belt, McGovern assailed the silence of the churches about drones. “If the church does not speak out against this wanton slaughter against black and brown people, then the church is the same institution Jesus spoke out against and got killed for doing it.”

McGovern, after being introduced by Brian Terrell, said, “It’s not often I’m introduced by a prophet!” McGovern thanked Terrell for serving six months in a federal prison camp for his 2012 protest at Whiteman AFB—the longest sentence any drone resister has received.

Terrell, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, speaking during the rally, asked whether the resisters knew what “Spirit Gate” meant. The name evokes not the third person of the Holy Trinity—the Holy Spirit, not a “higher power,” not a spirit that animates and gives life, nor even the Higgs-Bosson particle. “Spirit Gate” and, even more pointedly, the “Spirit Chapel” that can be seen just inside the gate, are named for the nickname the Air Force gives to the B2 Stealth Bomber nestled at Whiteman AFB. The Air Force calls these weapons of mass destruction “Spirit Stealth Bombers.”

“This is the ‘spirit’ that is evoked and worshiped here at Whiteman,” Terrell said. “When we were here for the first Trifecta Resista action in 2012, Whiteman personnel were using Predator drones. Now we have Reaper drones—think Grim Reaper—and they are armed with ‘Hellfire’ missiles. These terms—Spirit, Reaper, Hellfire—are theological terms and, as used here at Whiteman, are shear blasphemy!”

Terrell noted his best times during his six-months imprisonment in North Dakota were spent walking a large circle path outside in the cold, even in minus-40-degree wind chill, times when no one else was out walking, unlike warm days when the path became Grand Central Station. He called his prison time “highly productive” for thinking/praying/planning. He later asked whether any locals had come forward to say they will do civil resistance during the May 30-June 1 Trifecta Resista that will return to Whiteman AFB. The answer: not yet. For info on that resistance weekend, see 

Rally organizer Jeff Stack of Columbia, Mo., head of the Mid-MO Fellowship of Reconciliation, asked protester Jo Ann Witt of Kansas City to say a few words about why she came to the rally. “Because so many innocent civilians have been killed by the drones,” said Witt, moved to tears.

McGovern thanked Witt for her tears, noting they were the humane response to the horror of drone warfare that the U.S. has unleashed.

—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks-KC

Join Trifecta Resista May 30-June 1

On tap: Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, Medea Benjamin, Col. Ann Wright

Posted March 30, 2014

Carve out some springtime for taking a peace stand. PeaceWorks-KC is holding Trifecta Resista, a three-day gathering with action on three issues, at three places:

--resistance to the imprisonment of whistle-blower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas;

--resistance to nuclear weapons at Bannister Federal Complex in KC, where parts for nuclear weapons were made from 1949 to this year, and where contaminants linger; and

--resistance to drone warfare at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, Mo., where predator drones are guided to places including Afghanistan by remote control.

We have promises from Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell (of Voices for Creative Non-Violence) and Medea Benjamin and Alli McCracken (of Code Pink) that they will attend our triple-action weekend, and Col. Ann Wright hopes to join us. DeLaSalle Education Center, at 3737 Troost, KC, Mo., will be home base.

Our schedule:

         Fri., May 30, 4-9 pm: kickoff of weekend at DeLaSalle, with nonviolence training, supper, input on Trifecta sites, and small-group sharing.

         Sat., May 31: demonstrations at Fort Leavenworth (at 10 a.m.—Chelsea is now serving a 35-year sentence there) and Bannister Federal Complex (at 3 pm), and meals and gatherings at DeLaSalle. At 7 pm, we’ll have talks from leaders such as Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, Medea Benjamin, and Ann Wright.

         Sun., June 1: early breakfast, then departure from DeLaSalle at about 11 a.m., a gathering at Knob Noster State Park at 1 pm, and demonstration at nearby Whiteman AFB at 2 pm.

PeaceWorks-KC sponsors the weekend. The growing list of cosponsors includes All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Social Responsibility Board, Disciples Peace Fellowship, KC-area Catholic Workers, Loretto Peace Committee, Peace Network of the Ozarks, and War Is a Crime (David Swanson).

Join us! It’s free; we welcome contributions and food; we have sleeping-bag space. For info, see Facebook/Trifecta Resista and

RSVP by phoning PeaceWorks-KC at 816-561-1181.

‘Bike for Peace’ will bike from KC to Independence on May 1

Posted March 17, 2014

Tore Naerland, in back, and Frank Tomlinson biking in tandem. Photo courtesy of Bike for Peace.

Roll on!

Bike for Peace, seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons, is coming to Kansas City and Independence. Four Bike-for-Peace members from Norway invite all comers to bike with them or ride in companion vehicles. The local tour includes these free, open-to-all events:

4/30, 6 pm, supper and talks at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, KC, Mo.

5/1, 11 am, meeting with Councilman Ed Ford and others at City Hall, 414 E. 12th St., KC, Mo.

5/1, 1 pm, bike ride from City Hall to Community of Christ Temple, 1001 W. Walnut, Independence, Mo.

5/1, 3 pm, ceremony at the temple to welcome Bike for Peace and hear the bikers’ words of hope.

Background: Tore Naerland of Norway, president of Bike for Peace, during the last 35 years has led more than 110 tours to encourage the abolition of nuclear weapons. The bikers often move from city to city in a van but bike partway. Among cities that Tore and his three colleagues will visit during their “world tour” this spring are Oslo, London, Paris, Rome (they will have an audience with Pope Francis), Tehran, New Delhi, Beijing, Hiroshima, Tokyo, Indianapolis, Washington, and New York. Tore, whose vision is impaired, typically rides a tandem bicycle with a partner. Bike for Peace works with Mayors for Peace to try to free the world of nuclear weapons by 2020. They’ve got 20/20 vision.

Engagement with locals: Bike for Peace puts a high priority on meeting with persons with disabilities, bikers, and city/state/national leaders. If you would like to bike or ride with Bike for Peace from KC to Independence, contact Jane Stoever, 913-206-4088.

More info:

‘Resistance is turning the tide’ of public opinion about drones

by Jane Stoever

Posted April 28, 2014

A US predator drone.

Brian Terrell, at a recent talk, welcomed the public’s rising antipathy to drone warfare.

“Before about 2009 in the U.S., the military’s argument was pretty unassailable in the general public. People believed a drone, a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), was a precision weapon that could strike without damaging a country’s infrastructure,” said Terrell. His and others’ 2009 civil resistance at Creach Air Force Base in Nevada, where drones are guided by remote control to strike targets, has sparked other actions, he said.

“Our resistance, like your Trifecta Resista, is turning the tide” of public opinion, Terrell insisted, speaking Feb. 21 to about 45 people at Cherith Brook Catholic Worker in KC, Mo. Terrell, who lives in Maloy, Iowa, participated in the Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, drone protest during PeaceWorks’ Trifecta Resista in 2012. He served six months at a federal prison camp for remaining on Whiteman AFB property when asked to leave.

“Drones have brought war home,” Terrell said. How so? Well, CIA personnel and other agents all over the world watch video feeds of areas under suspicion and order drone operators to kill suspects. The operators—many at U.S. National Guard stations—do their task close to home and return to their families at night.

The operators sit about 18” from their screens, waiting for their targets to emerge from their homes or other areas. Terrell quoted a drone operator as saying, “I didn’t see why the suspects were worthy of being killed. I did see enough to know they’re good daddies.”

When a drone crashed in Iraqi Kurdistan, said Terrell, people commented, “Hey—we aren’t at war with Kurdistan!”

Terrell named the rule of war: you can kill anyone who is an imminent threat. Terrell added that in a 2013 analysis, Jeremy Skahill, national security correspondent for The Nation, said people can be considered an “imminent threat” if they write something someone questions or if they are in the company of someone under suspicion. Terrell described weekly “Terror Tuesday” sessions at which the president and others flip through “cards like baseball cards,” with pictures and information, and decide who should be killed.

“What about the due process of law?” demanded Terrell.

Here’s a sampling from the Q&A.

Q. What can we do?”

A. “We can do more than we know. On May 22, 2013, President Obama was on TV defending drones. It was not his plan to do this. I could hear a voice interrupting him—could not see her—Medea Benjamin. Soon, the New York Times was saying: Debate aside, drone strikes drop sharply.”

Q. “Why are drones so popular?”

A. “Obama’s position is that he can send drones anywhere in the world because he’s not sending people. If he were sending a plane with someone in it, he’d need congressional approval. Besides, a drone costs $1 million to $4 million. A fighter plane costs hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Q. “Will you come to our Trifecta Resista this year?”

A. “Yes! Drones and smaller tactical missiles are coming out of the same idea. Make little bombs that will take out only half a city—they’ll be more usable, more comfortable, less expensive than big ones.”

At the end of Terrell’s talk, Eric Garbison of Cherith Brook called for a moment of silence for all those killed by drones, where there seem to be no rules and no conscience.

—Jane Stoever serves on the PeaceWorks Board. 

Chelsea Manning thanks supporters for letters

Posted April 28, 2014

Chelsea Manning. Photos by U.S. Army, AP / Patrick Semansky.

In a year-end public letter received by the Private Manning Support Network, jailed whistle-blower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning wrote to “share my gratitude for all those who have been so generous to me by sending your well wishes for my birthday and the Holidays.” She said she did not have the resources and time to respond to each letter but offered her “warm appreciation” through the public letter.

Manning released classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, including the “collateral murder” video—footage from a U.S. Apache helicopter showing the murder of 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in Iraq. Manning was convicted last summer and has begun serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This February, Manning (in absentia) was given the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence; the award was bestowed at Oxford University in England.

Anyone interested in occasionally attending rallies to call for a pardon for her should e-mail Letters of support should be addressed accurately for delivery to Manning at her name of record: Bradley E. Manning 89289, 1300 North Warehouse Road, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304.

More information is available at, including a link on the home page about Trifecta Resista, which will feature a rally at Fort Leavenworth on Manning’s behalf.

Parts of this article are reprinted with permission from The Nuclear Resister, March 4, 2014.

Ever-faithful Cheyenne at the birthday party for Chelsea. Cheyenne comes to nearly all the PeaceWorks rallies and Board meetings. She likes us! Photo by best friend, Tamara Severns

The party guests are there to celebrate … but where’s Chelsea Manning?

Posted February 9, 2014

To mark the 26th birthday of WikiLeaks whistle-blower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, supporters gathered Dec. 15 at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where she is serving the beginning of her 35-year sentence. Marc Saviano says, “We need to try to get her pardoned!” We’ve wondered, “How many birthdays must Chelsea spend in prison for telling the truth?”

Contact Marc at

Supporters witness on behalf of Chelsea Manning Dec. 15 at the entry to Fort Leavenworth. Photos by Kris Kennon

Earth Lament

By Lu Mountenay

Posted August 7, 2013

And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” —Matthew 25:40

The stewards said to the sacred Earth, “When did we hurt you?”

Then the Earth said to the stewards, “I was gasping for breath, and you suffocated me—you contaminated my air and destroyed my protective shield, which was meant as a blessing for you. I was thirsty, and the waters which you did not imprison in plastic vessels, you consumed and polluted.

“I was whole and you cut off the peaks from my mountains and laid them low; you filled my deep valleys with toxic sludge. My forests were green and full of life-giving oxygen, and you cleared away my trees, leaving barren stubble and erosion. The waves of my seas were high and mighty and teeming with fish, and you left them stagnant, laden with mercury.

“I was abundant with energy, a gift for your children’s children, and you greedily depleted my storehouse. I was delightfully naked and you clothed me with trash. I was full of resources and you scraped up my chemicals, combined and processed them in a way my creator never meant them to be—and then you exploded them against me. I revealed traces of hidden things for your benefit, and you left me with heavy footprints of carbon and radioactive waste.

“I was free and you imprisoned me with bars of apathy. I was creation itself and your blinders of power would not let you see me for the living gift that I am.

“Prophetic people warned you, but you imprisoned the truth-tellers, and listened to the fear mongers. Some of my inhabitants tried to protect me, but your laws and regulations were feeble. Some disciples offered solutions of green, but, alas—you were short-sighted and said the cost was too high. I welcomed you to dwell with me, yet you made me a stranger.”

Then the stewards said, “Holy Earth, when was it that we betrayed you?”

And the Earth said, “It was not only what you did, but what you failed to do.”

Then the stewards again asked, “Earth…Earth, when? When did we see you cry and not respond? When did we feel you shudder and not comfort you?”

And the Earth answered them saying, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to me, you did it to yourselves … and your children’s children.”

—Lu Mountenay of the PeaceWorks Board penned this reflection as she pondered the results of 4/2/13 election in KC, Mo.

The sound of freedom

By Bill O’Neill,

Posted August 7, 2013

San Francisco Gay Pride Parade 2013
Photo courtesy of The Daily Republic

They came in pairs and groups.  They came in casual clothes and garish costumes. They came by bus, subway, trolley, car and foot.  They came from all the neighborhood districts – North Beach, Chinatown, Marina, Pacific Heights, South of Market, Richmond, Sunset, Haight—yes, they came from Castro. They journeyed from all of California and beyond.

Some even came from Kansas City.

They walked through downtown San Francisco on a gloriously bright Sunday morning, flowing down the connecting streets – smiles of acceptance and amazement on their faces. They swayed and rocked as they approached Market Street and heard the groundswell of one mighty, continuous crescendo of cheering.

It was a sound that was more than a cheer, more than a cry of recognition for those marching past them in the Gay Pride Parade.

It was a sound of pure joy and love for all those who have so long struggled for understanding, recognition, acceptance and equality.

And it was a sound of happiness for each other – all the marchers and all the watchers – that we could all come together and acknowledge our basic oneness expressed through the infinite diversity of our humanity, our life styles, our sexuality.

It was a sound that never ended.

It was the sound of freedom.

It was the sound of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness made more real, more meaningful, more realized for everyone in our great country on our one earth. It was the landmark San Francisco Gay Pride Parade of 2013, the year marriage no longer needs to be defended but can be shared by everyone.

—Bill O’Neill of Overland Park, KS, attended San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade June 30, shortly after the June 26 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn California’s Defense of Marriage Act. 

KC-St. Joe group joins Bradley Manning rally in MD, expands local witness

Posted August 3, 2013

KC-area activists stand up for Bradley June 8.

“Really awesome,” Marc Saviano said of the national rally for Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, MD, two days before the June 3 opening of his court-martial there. Saviano, a PeaceWorks Board member, filled his car with friends from KC and St. Joseph, Mo., to make the trip on behalf of Manning, who released material to WikiLeaks, including information on U.S. soldiers’ war crimes.

“Everybody at the rally—about 800 of us—got pumped up to get out and spread the word about Bradley,” Saviano told the PeaceWorks Board June 5. “There were more independent and foreign media than mainstream,” he said, noting international reporters and camera crews.

“We ought to call for a People’s Pardon,” Saviano said, adding, “We could get him out!”

For updates on Manning and his court-martial, see

For the June 8 KC rally, Saviano and others initiated a march with “Free Bradley Manning” signs to the regular KC rally location, the Veterans of Foreign Wars corner at Broadway and Linwood. Saviano announced future rallies the first and third Saturday of every month, 1-3 pm, in KC at Broadway and Linwood. For added info, see Trifecta Resista on Facebook.

Edge of Darkness

By Ron Faust

Posted May 6, 2013

It just keeps getting shoved to the edge
Into a shadow of darkness
Away from the light of peace
Relegated to the corners of the banks
Depositing securities like nuclear weapons
And defense systems and drones
Hovering like blackbirds
Ready to pounce on your back
When you are not looking.

A small remnant of courageous idealists
Found unacceptable the notion
That the public good was removed
From devices that could trigger their death
Since the corporate powers hid
Behind closed and deceptive doors
To shut out the sliver of light
And barricade access to their private plottings.

But the single candle of conscience still flickers
Over the edge of darkness
Which at times seems pitch black
Although still the candle burns deep within
And to look up you see more stars in the sky.

(On occasion of the 4/2/13 KC election about nuclear weapons—a consciousness-raising effort, but outspent.)

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control

Review by Don McClain

Posted April 21, 2013

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control is a good read. It’s by Medea Benjamin, famous for her CODEPINK actions nationally and globally, and for founding the social activism organization Global Exchange.

Drones are not just another piece of military technology with domestic application issues. It is a quantum leap to separate human beings from their weapon’s target. A drone “pilot” sitting in Nevada can direct a lethal strike on a particular house on the border of Pakistan. With drone warfare, the language of assets, targets, and enemies has moved to a new level. Benjamin explores the legal and moral implications of the rapidly expanded use of drones. She reveals the extent to which local law enforcement and even local citizens are trying to get access to this technology. In fact, they are already doing so. The whirr of the drone is coming to a neighborhood near you. Who is going to make big bucks from drone warfare and having drones accepted as a normal part of life in the 21st century?  General Atomics, Boeing, and Lockheed are three of the many.

Ninety percent of drones are owned by the United States. As more nations, corporations, law enforcement agencies, and terrorists acquire these weapons, battles will be fought against this new chapter in the history of war. Benjamin challenges the argument that drone-based warfare will be cheaper and save tens of thousands of military lives. The challenge pertains to the civilian and innocent lives lost.

Photo of a Predator drone

Giving drones scary names such as “predators” and “reapers” should be a wake-up call. Benjamin explains how small drones can be and how versatile their range. They can be converted to large and destructive weapons. Drones in some circles are known as “Al Qaeda recruiters” because of who gets killed and how. Some drones are tiny, and some are huge; the ones that are the size of a Boeing 737 can stay in the air all day without refueling.

Benjamin goes into detail about the dual and separate operation of drones, on the one hand by the CIA (which is a violation to its founding charter), and the other hand by the Department of Defense. See a paper referenced in Benjamin’s book, Chris Cole’s Convenient Killing: Armed Drones and the PlayStation Mentality.

Benjamin ends on this note. “The burden is now squarely on ‘we, the people’ to reassert our rights and push back against the normalization of drones as a military and law enforcement tool. The use of drones needs to be limited, transparent and, at the least, acknowledged. It’s no less a war if the plane firing the missile is remotely operated.”   

The drone with enhanced surveillance and intelligence-gathering ability is Little Brother watching you and everyone you know. The more troubling fact is that Little Brother’s operators can call in Big Brother, who is armed and dangerous, to do follow-up. This is a future to mitigate now. Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control is a small but significant book.

— Don McClain is a past PeaceWorks Board member and Park University instructor.

Support Bradley Manning

By Marc Saviano

Posted April 17, 2013

Photos from Bradley Manning Rally at Fort Leavenworth, KS

Feb. 23 marked the one thousandth day of Bradley Manning’s confinement without trial for exposing truths about war crimes of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. For many of those days, he was in solitary confinement in conditions that have been described as “torture” by U.N. officials. The Bradley Manning Support Network called on supporters around the world to recognize Bradley’s 1000th day of confinement with rallies. Over 70 events took place worldwide, including one at Fort Leavenworth, where Bradley was awaiting transfer to hearings in mid-April and mid-May before his court-martial trial in June.  

Around 15 supporters from Missouri and Kansas—including members of PeaceWorks, Vets for Peace KC, Occupy KC, Occupy St. Joe, and others—gathered outside the gates in the snow with signs and banners to support Bradley.   Local Leavenworth residents joined the rally, and although the public response was mixed as usual, KC television media covered the event with rare fair and balanced newscasts.   

Last year there were several pretrial hearings at Fort Meade, Maryland, addressing the case, including a few requests for dismissal based on the mistreatment of Bradley and unusual judicial decisions.

This March, Bradley gave an hour-long statement, confessing to 10 of the 22 charges against him, detailing his involvement with WikiLeaks and the information he made public. (The full transcript can be found at The defense hoped the judge might be lenient and drop the additional charges against him, including aiding the enemy, which could result in a life sentence without parole. However, the government decided to proceed with the additional charges, meaning Bradley may still face life in prison for simply sharing the truth with the public. 

Join rallies at the main entrance to Fort Leavenworth for Bradley’s freedom from 1 to 3 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of each month this spring. To carpool, contact me at Find out more at Donations to his legal defense fund can be made through

Marc Saviano is a PeaceWorks Board member.

Updates on Facebook, websites

Besides this website, for breaking news about PeaceWorks activities, including resistance to nuclear weapons, predator drones, and the imprisonment of Bradley Manning, see:

Faust’s probation cut to 1 year; Terrell in prison camp for 6 months

by Chuck Trapkus

The five-year probation sentence for Ron Faust of Gladstone, Mo., has been cut from 5 years to 1 year, with his “offense” being civil resistance to drone warfare operations at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, Mo., April 15, 2012. Faust, a leader of Disciples Peace Fellowship in the KC area, has also resisted nuclear-weapon-parts production in KC.

“Grateful!” is how he and his family feel about his sentence reduction. What led to the sentence? Last April, Faust, Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, and Mark Kenney of Omaha entered Whiteman AFB to present an indictment against drone warfare. The three resisters refused to leave the base voluntarily, were not allowed to give their indictment statement to the base commander, and received sentences ranging from Faust’s 6 months in a federal prison camp to Faust’s 5 years’ probation. The graphic here, drawn a few years ago, shows Terrell heading to jail for an earlier civil resistance “offense” with his briefcase and toothbrush. Letters and contributions to support the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm established by Terrell and his wife, Betsy, may be sent to Betsy at 108 Hillcrest Dr., Maloy, IA 50836.

Early this year, Judge Matt Whitworth “had a change of heart” and reduced the probation sentence for Faust. “I’m grateful,” says Faust, “but there also is a vacuous feeling of why we should go through this charade of justice when we saw the trespassing charge as disproportionate to the more serious charge of killing innocent children by using predator drones. Plus, we saw it as our duty to question an illegal violation of international law. We were doing the most responsible thing in the face of government deception, and thus acting on ethical principle. We saw this minor civil misdemeanor of trespassing at Whiteman AFB not warranting such serious charges.”

During his probation, Faust confers with his probation officer, submits reports on his activities, and must gain permission to leave the area. Faust says he finds himself “wondering if dismissal of the sentence would have better grasped the real violation of the law”—the killing of civilians and other unintended targets by U.S. drone warfare.

Drone resister begins 6-month term in South Dakota prison camp

Brian Terrell, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, on Nov. 30 began his six-month term at Yankton Federal Prison Camp in South Dakota for resisting drone warfare at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, Mo. Contributions to support the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm established by Terrell and his wife, Betsy, may be sent to Betsy at 108 Hillcrest Dr., Maloy, IA 50836. In a Nov. 11 e-mail, Terrell wrote of presentations he was giving against drone warfare. “The discussion on drones is long overdue but it is catching on,” said Terrell. “This is an important time; just as the nation is clearing away the cobwebs of months of distractions and electioneering from our collective brain, many are awakening to the horror that has grown while they were not looking.”

Video Contest

Put yourself in the winner’s circle! Create a video by Jan. 7 about the April 2 initiative petition, and you could win:
·  $150 for first prize,
·  $100 for second prize,
·  $50 for third prize.

Some topics you might want to give a whirl: jobs and KC finances, health and the environment, peace and federal financing, and whatever you dream up. For background and contest submission info, see

The project might be as simple as writing a song and getting friends to belt it out, as you’re videoing. Questions? Contact Amrita Burdick at 816-531-2228.

Visit to the West Bank
‘Occupation must end!’

by Sister Jan Cebula, OSF

Nabi Saleh villagers in the West Bank
Photo by Jan Cebula, OSF

During an Interfaith Peace-Builders visit to Israel and the West Bank Oct. 21-Nov. 3, our delegation visited Nabi Saleh, a West Bank village northwest of Ramallah. I met the women pictured here, Nabi Saleh residents. Most of the village land lies in Area C, which is under the total control of Israel. Palestinians living in Area C and in East Jerusalem are particularly vulnerable to losing their land. Over the years, the neighboring settlement of Halamish in the West Bank has taken over more and more of the surrounding land belonging to the village. In 2009, the settlers took over a natural spring, preventing access to the villagers. After appealing to the Israeli authorities to no avail, the villagers of Nabi Saleh began weekly demonstrations, first against the takeover of their spring and later against the occupation itself. Every Friday, the Israeli military closes off the village to prevent other people from joining the demonstrations. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) subject the demonstrators, including children, to night raids, tear gas, pepper spray, sound grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets, and “skunk water,” a foul-smelling liquid that is shot into their homes.

We heard the story of the Nabi Saleh villagers (many of them are related to each other) as we sat in the house of Bassem Tamimi, who is in jail and has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. Our delegation sat in shock as we watched videos of the demonstrations. It is one thing to hear about it, another to see videos. What must it be like to live there? Over 250 canisters of tear gas may be shot at one time, as many as 1,500 in one day. We could not even see the buildings through all the tear gas. In December 2011, Mustafa Tamimi, one of the villagers, was shot at short range in the face with a tear gas canister and died. We recoiled in horror as we watched the video. After we returned to the United States, we learned that on Nov. 17, as the villagers were protesting the Israeli action in Gaza, the IDF shot Rushdi Tamimi with both rubber -coated steel bullets and live ammunition. He died two days later.

The people of Nabi Saleh continue to stand up for their rights with great courage and resolve. They are strengthened by the solidarity of others around the world.

Nobody is holding the IDF accountable for their actions. Nobody is holding Israel accountable for its violation of international law by continuing the occupation, building settlements and the wall. The U.S. government continues to provide 25 percent of our foreign aid to Israel, turning a blind eye to what is happening there.

I can’t imagine how the beautiful women whose picture I took—and their dreams for their future—are affected. The occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem must end. The only hope seems to lie in the strength of the Palestinian people along with the solidarity of the international civic community. All the major Palestinian civil society organizations have joined in the call for a worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; see At this time, some organizations are particularly focusing on Caterpillar (manufacturer of bulldozers used in demolishing homes and olive trees), Motorola (manufacturer of surveillance devices), Hewlett-Packard (IT and biometric ID systems), Ahava cosmetics, Tribe and Sabra Hummus and Dips, and Casbah Natural Foods.

—Franciscan Sister Jan Cebula lived in Kansas City, Mo., from 1981 to 2004.

Judge convicts civil resisters who "put drones on trial"

by Jane Stoever

Brian Terrell, left; Elton Davis of Des Moines; and Col. Ann Wright--delighted to demonstrate at Whiteman AFB just hours after the "drones on trial" convictions of Terrell and Ron Faust.
Photo by Mike Nickells.

In the first federal trial related to drone warfare, Judge Magistrate Matt Whitworth of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, in Jefferson City, ruled Sept. 10 that two civil resisters were guilty of trespass April 15 at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, Mo.

The defendants were Ronald Faust of Gladstone, Mo., a retired Disciples of Christ minister and leader of Disciples Peace Fellowship, and Catholic Worker Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. On April 15, Faust, Terrell, and Mark Kenney of Omaha (see "Resisting drones") sought to present to the Whiteman AFB commander an indictment of all involved in drone warfare, from President Obama to the Whiteman officers who, by remote control, direct predator drones in Afghanistan attacks. The defendants said Sept. 10 they were not guilty of trespass but had simply tried to bring a grievance to a government authority about the drone strikes that kill an estimated 49 untargeted persons for every one target.

More than 50 supporters of Faust and Terrell packed the courtroom, including many PeaceWorks-KC members. In addition, PeaceWorks-KC sponsored talks in KC Sept. 9 by witnesses and defendants to inform Kansas Citians about drone warfare, and musicians led by Bob and Diana Suckiel held a fundraiser Sept. 7 to support the defendants. See below for Sept. 10 photos by Mike Nickells, as well as Tom Klammer photos from the Sept. 9 talks. See extensive Sept. 10 video clips from the news conference before the trial and the later Whiteman AFB protest: and

During the trial, constitutional law expert Bill Quigley, professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, said the defendants were exercising their rights April 15 under the First Amendment to the Constitution. "My grandfather went to jail in Birmingham to oppose Bull Connor," said Quigley, noting that when the Supreme Court overturned laws against sit-ins at restaurants and protests outside courtrooms, "there were 3,000 people in jail." Quigley reminded the court that 100 years ago, the nation had no child labor laws, no vote for women, no civil rights legislation. The First Amendment protects "vigorous dissent," said Quigley. "The idea of trespass is not more important than the First Amendment. Our Constitution trumps the statutes" for trespass.

Witness Kathy Kelly, also a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, told the court she came to Whiteman AFB April 15 to support the defendants' presentation of the "Indictment for Violation of Human Rights," their statement against drone warfare. Kelly said she and Terrell had visited families of drone victims, and she described how goat-herders at a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, had introduced them to a child whose arm was amputated by a drone. Kelly said she felt responsible "to go as close as I could to the people" suffering from drone bombings, and explained that she and Terrell were raising their voices here on behalf of the voiceless abroad.

At the Sept. 10 Jefferson City, Mo., news conference before the trial, Ramsey Clark, left, says, "Ten days ago, I was in Pakistan, in Karachi and Islamabad. Big demonstrations were going on in both places, enormous anger spreading throughout the people over the drones and how it is the United States feels it has the right to send these destructive weapons on their soil, invading their sovereignty and killing their people indiscriminantly. Pakistan has been a vital friend of ours for a long time. We're losing it (that friendship) fast. … The United States of America needs to stop the drones completely, destroy the technology, dismantle our nuclear forces, and try to live in peace with the rest of the world. … It's simply a matter of will. It's up to the American people."
Photo by Mike Nickells.

The defense had asked for former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Col. Ann Wright to testify about the illegality of drone warfare and citizens' responsibilities under international treaties. The prosecution opposed those topics, and the judge excluded them.

Wright, who served in the Army for 29 years and was a diplomat for 16 years, resigned her diplomatic post in 2003 to protest the Iraq War. She was permitted by Whitworth to testify only on base security issues. She suggested the commander might have assigned guards to Terrell, Faust, and Kenney on April 15 and let them hand their indictment to the commander. Instead, the base arrested the three and had 40-50 military police in riot gear march against about 40 supporters. After the trial, Wright said the defendants' and supporters' work "gives hope to people in other parts of the world that there are Americans who are fighting drones, and we aren't going to get stopped!"

Whitworth's rejection of Clark marked the first time Clark was not allowed to testify in court as an expert witness. Clark said after the trial, "We are part of a long struggle—I've been at it for 84 years. We have to plan harder, work harder. The world is in far more danger than when I was born, probably progressively so. Right now we're madly designing more efficient ways to take human life. We have to awaken people, with love out front. We need to act boldly, take the opportunity to do our best, and pray for the rest."

About 25 supporters traveled from Jefferson City to Whiteman AFB, gathering under the stars, singing for peace, and holding signs such as "Ground the Drones!" There Clark said the drone operators are allowed "to be judge, jury, and executioner, contrary to all sense of justice."

After issuing his guilty verdict, Whitworth told Faust and Terrell to meet with probation officers soon for a presentence investigation. "I wonder if I might waive a presentence investigation," Terrell asked the judge. Terrell recalled that on June 6, Whitworth gave Terrell and Faust's resistance companion, Mark Kenney of Omaha, a four-month federal prison sentence, out of the maximum of six months, in part because of Kenney's prior convictions for resistance. Noting that the prosecuting attorney had his arrest record, Terrell said his own record "beats out Mark's 10 to 1. I don't believe there'll be anything in a presentence report that would change the situation. If the government suggests even the maximum penalty, I wouldn't argue against that." He asked to be sentenced at once, to save the court and himself the time and expense, but the judge denied the request. Sentencing is expected in a few weeks.

Terrell e-mailed supporters Sept. 11, "Our efforts have been and continue to effectively spread questions, doubts, and even outrage over remote-control murder at long distance by drones from Whiteman and other bases. Their willingness to kill from long distance must be exceeded by our commitment to love from a distance."

Faust e-mailed Sept. 11, "I think about everybody realized that we won the trial. Change is slow, but we got the message out." Media reports included coverage in Democracy Now, Radio Pacifica, KKFI-FM (KC's community radio), The San Francisco Chronicle, The Kansas City Star,,, (Fla.), Fox 4 TV in KC, KCTV 5, and many other news venues.

Henry Stoever of Overland Park, Kan., served as Terrell's legal advisor. After the trial, Stoever listed several reasons the defendants should not have been convicted, including:

  1. the military witnesses failed to specifically identify Terrell and Faust, referring to them broadly as the two at the defense table when three men sat there, along with Ruth O'Neill of Columbia, Mo., Faust's lawyer;
  2. the judge refused to allow the defendants to present a complete defense in which their experts would have had an opportunity to explain drone killings as murders without notice or warning, without due process, outside of a legal process; and
  3. by focusing solely on trespass and the limited "law" in that area, the judge excluded the greater evil that is ongoing and missed the injustice of the entire matter.

Terrell noted Sept. 11 that he and Faust were unable to raise an international law defense. Whitworth rejected Clark's testimony on the U.N. Charter and the responsibility of citizens to resist the crimes of their government under the Nuremberg Principles. Terrell recalled Whitworth's comment during a pretrial conference call that international law does not "trump" domestic law. This, says Terrell, is in contradiction to the Constitution, Article VI, that incorporates treaties into the "supreme law of the land." Terrell added that the judge also limited Kelly's testimony about what she and Terrell had witnessed in Afghanistan.

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Farewell, Sister Mary McNellis!

by Jane Stoever

Sister Mary McNellis.
Photo by Tamara Severns

Sister of Loretto Mary McNellis, a recipient of PeaceWorks’ highest honor—the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award—died at age 102 in Kansas City, Mo., on July 23. Among her many peace actions were traveling to Cuba in her early 90s on a fact-finding mission, traveling to the Netherlands in 1999 for the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference, and organizing a teach-in several decades ago at Volker Park to expose U.S. economic and military crimes. She brought us joy in conversations and events throughout her life.

Loretto Co-member Tamara Severns of the PeaceWorks Board wrote this tribute in her message to friends about Mary’s death:

Sister Mary spent her whole life working for, nurturing, and living peace. Mary’s spirit is with us always and standing with us at every event that asks for peace in the world. What a gift her life was to all who knew her and were touched by Mary’s smile.

Mary sought peace and justice in a kaleidoscope of ways. She wore her “honorary lesbian” button, joined the Greens, and spoke up at Loretto meetings about concerns for the environment. One of PeaceWorks’ founders, Charles Bebb, and Mary were great friends, almost inseparable, people would say. They worked tirelessly in their group the World Federalist, and in the United Nations Association. Mary went with PeaceWorks co-chairs Lynn and Kris Cheatum to protest near Omaha at Offut Air Force Base, command center for U.S. nuclear weapons. “If Lynn and Kris wanted Mary to go anywhere, she went,” says Sister of Loretto Barbara Doak. “She’d put a toothbrush in her pocket, grab her little old knapsack, and go—in her 80s and even her early 90s.”

Barbara was Mary’s friend and nurse, living with her in midtown KC for about 35 years. They were active in the Longfellow Neighborhood Association. “We got free paint so people could paint their houses, and we got people to help paint for the elderly, encouraging residents to stay in the neighborhood,” says Barbara. She adds that Mary helped start the annual Troost-Fest, a celebration of Troost-area people and history. “Instead of having Troost be the boundary between white and black, the idea was to be one—that was right up Mary’s alley,” says Barbara.

When Mary needed a lift to a local protest, Barbara would often drive. Mary would march, but Barbara would sometimes stay in the car, saying the action wouldn’t make any difference, Barbara recalls. “Mary used to say, ‘If God lets you see something needs to be done, then you should do it, but remember—God’s in charge of the outcome.’ Mary didn’t worry about being ‘effective’; she was centered in the Gospel, and nobody’s belief system or doubt system swayed her. She trusted God and the universe completely.”

Farewell, Mary! We feel your spirit lifting us onward!

Lynn Cheatum, a founder of PeaceWorks-KC, dies

Lynn Max Cheatum died peacefully of end-stage Alzheimer’s on June 27. In 1982, he helped found PeaceWorks, Kansas City, as a committee of the Interfaith Peace Alliance, and then later, he and his wife Kris co-chaired the PeaceWorks Board for many years (see photo). Lynn was a reporter for The Kansas City Star and eventually ran a newsletter business. Among his bequests are the plastic spider and other critters he stuck on the ceiling of the PeaceWorks office, above the table where mailings get labeled and mighty meetings ensue.

Lynn was a leader in Peace Action, the national organization of which PeaceWorks-KC is an affiliate. He and Kris attended numerous Peace Action Board meetings and National Congresses. As Lynn’s illness progressed, he and Kris yielded the PeaceWorks chair position to Dave Pack, and Dave replaced Lynn on the Peace Action Board. In 2008, at a Peace Action National Congress, Dave gave Lynn and Kris the Peace Action Lifetime Achievement Award, one of many awards the activist couple received. In 2011, PeaceWorks created the Lynn and Kris Cheatum Community Peace Award, a special recognition for groups that foster peace. All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church and the Urban Ranger Corps received the first two annual Cheatum Awards.

Among other journeys, Lynn and Kris led Kansas Citians to the nuclear weapons testing site 65 miles north of Las Vegas in the 1980s and the 1990s for annual civil resistance. In 1988, a year before Lynn and Kris married, they and 14 others, in two vans and a car, made the 30-hour trip (including a shower and an overnight in Las Vegas) and were arrested for trespass. How do we know? The PeaceWorks newsletter, edited by Lynn, says so.

“I remember Lynn as humorous,” says Dave. “And from when I first met Lynn and Kris, I viewed them as the perfect couple. They just belonged together. I never saw any couple that I thought more belonged together. Now, two years since Kris died, I can put them together again.”

Dave adds, “Their commitment to peace and justice was unbelievable. They spent the vast majority of their time on peace and justice issues. I don’t think anyone can ever fill their shoes.”

In memory of Lynn Cheatum, my neighbor

By Mary Vincent

I knew Lynn, as several of us did, as a tireless worker for peace. But I came to know him first as a neighbor. Lynn moved into his house shortly after we did (more than 20 years ago). He was the keeper of bees and shared his honey with a select group of people. I was always proud to be on his honey list. Lynn grew lilacs, white ones. Mine were purple. So each spring we would exchange cut blooms from the lilac bushes. He called it “our floral arrangement.”

The city used to have designated bulky item pick-up days. Lynn kept track of that information and found some amazing items on the curb. Those treasures made their way to his basement. He saw the possibility of something else in almost everything. Two such projects come to mind. The first was a shovel blade. Somehow he electrified it. When it was plugged in, he used it to shovel or really melt the snow on his front steps. Another wonderful creation was the alarm he created for his bike. It consisted of a metal pad on the floor which was connected to an old-fashioned burglar alarm. If the bike was removed without disarming the system, it made an awful clattering ringing noise. Lynn insisted it was enough to scare anyone away!

As Lynn and Kris prepared to move out of the house, I offered to help get things ready for the garage sale. All of those wonderful treasures were still in the basement. The day we began to sort through the stuff, Kris gave Lynn a list of tasks to do which kept him upstairs and out of the basement. As she and I tried to organize things, Lynn would call down that he was finished and was coming down. Kris would reply, “No, I'll be right up.” She knew if he came down, things would not get organized. This went on for a while and then Lynn hollered down the steps, “Well, don’t get rid of the nails. You never know when you'll need one.” As I left that day, Kris gave me a small box of nails and screws and nuts and bolts and drawer pulls!

I still have the box and got it out last week. I thought of Lynn and his life and advice: Have a little honey on hand; it will sweeten things up. Peace is a lifelong road to travel; the journey is important. Always keep a few nails around; they will help hold it all together.

Put the drones on trial!

Join Ramsey Clark, Kathy Kelly, Col. Ann Wright, and Bill Quigley

Come to Missouri to join experts in constitutional and international law supporting activists in the 1st anti-drone trial in a federal court, Sept. 10.

by Brian Terrell

Former Attorney General of the United States Ramsey Clark will be called as an expert witness in defense of two anti-drone activists on trial in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., on Sept. 10. Clark, 84, has a long and varied legal career that includes the drafting of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and opposition to the Vietnam War. He served as attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson from 1966 to 1969. Also called as expert witnesses for the defense will be retired Col. Ann Wright, who served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and 16 years as a U.S. diplomat and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War, and Bill Quigley, associate director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, will be called to witness to the effects of drone warfare on its civilian victims she has met while visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The defendants, Ron Faust of Gladstone, Mo., and Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, participated in the April 15 Trifecta Resista protest at Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force Base, from where killer drones engage in combat in Afghanistan by remote control. Faust and Terrell were arrested for trespass as they attempted to deliver an “indictment” to Brig. Gen. Scott A. Vander Hamm, the base’s commander. The indictment charges the chain of command, from President Obama to General Vander Hamm to the drone crews at Whiteman, “with the following crimes: extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians” and demands that these crimes immediately cease. Arrested with Faust and Terrell was Mark Kenney of Omaha, who is now serving a four-month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges at a June 6 arraignment.

The defendants intend to prove in court that their protest was protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and also was a response to more egregious crimes committed on the base. “Drones inherently violate the laws of the United States and international law,” says Clark. “They are associated with the concept of assassination and murder.” In terms of the crimes the accused are charged with, Clark says the defendants are being denied their constitutional rights of free speech and the freedom to assemble. And their “crimes,” he says, pale in comparison to what the defendants are trying to stop.

The protest at Whiteman is one of many in response to the U.S. government’s increasing use of drones in recent years, but the trial in Jefferson City marks the first time that charges have been filed not in local courts but in a U.S. District Court. The prosecution will be handled directly by a commissioned officer in the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps, acting as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Terrell, a defendant in previous “drone trials,” that of the “Creech 14” in Nevada in 2010 and the “Hancock 38” in New York in 2011, is a Catholic Worker and a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and will be representing himself with the assistance of Kansas City attorney Henry Stoever. Faust, a retired Disciples of Christ minister, will be represented by Columbia, Mo., attorney Ruth O’Neill.

On the evening before the trial, Sunday, Sept. 9, at 6:30, the defendants, attorneys, and witnesses will hold a public meeting at Community Christian Church, 4601 Main Street, in Kansas City, Mo. On Monday at noon there will be a press conference and rally at the U.S. District Court House, 80 Lafayette Street in Jefferson City, followed by the trial at 1:30 (photo ID required, no cell phones allowed). Please contribute to the costs of the defense by donating online at or writing a check to Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 1249 West Argyle Street #2, Chicago, IL 60640, with “drones on trial” in the memo line.

Contact Brian Terrell,, 773-853-1886, for more information. Tamara Severns,, 816-753-7642, and Jane Stoever,, 913-206-4088, are coordinating hospitality and logistics in Kansas City and Jefferson City.

Resisting drones: ‘Let justice flow like a river’

by Brian Terrell

The U.S. district courthouse in Jefferson City, Mo.
Photo by Marc Saviano

The U.S. district courthouse in Jefferson City, Mo., is a modern and graceful structure sitting on a bluff over the Missouri River. Less than one year old, it is a virtual temple in white marble, granite, and glass, its clean lines all the more immaculate in contrast to its nearest neighbor, the crumbling 19th-century hulk of the derelict and empty Missouri State Penitentiary, now a tourist attraction and occasional movie set. Set into the floor of the courthouse rotunda, executed in marble and bronze, is the image of the Great Seal of the United States, the eagle with arrows in one talon and olive leaves in the other, circled by a quote from the Bible, from the prophet Amos, “Let Justice Flow Like a River.”

Even the wide Missouri’s current gets a bit sluggish in the summer months. Justice was flowing just as slowly through the high-ceilinged halls of the courthouse on June 6, the day appointed for me, Mark Kenney (of Omaha), and Ron Faust (of Kansas City, Mo.) to answer to the charge that we “did enter a military installation for a purpose prohibited by law.” Aside from our arraignment, little else was going on in the building that day. But for our small party of defendants, attorneys, and friends, the big new courthouse was almost as quiet and deserted as the abandoned old prison across the street.

Mark, Ron and I had been summonsed here by the powers after having been apprehended on April 15 at Whiteman Air Force Base. Our action was part of the Trifecta Resista nonviolence training and direct action or demonstration at three locations around the Kansas City area. Besides protesting at Whiteman, from which killer drones engage in combat in Afghanistan by remote control, our activists from around the Midwest resisted Kansas City’s new nuclear weapons plant and rallied at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, where suspected Wikileaks whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning had been held while waiting for trial.

At the Whiteman base, Ron, Mark and I attempted, on behalf of our group of protestors, to deliver an “indictment” to Brig. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, the base’s commander. Our indictment charged the chain of command, from President Obama to General Vander Hamm to the drone crews at Whiteman, “with the following crimes: extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians.”

Mark Kenney (Omaha, Ne.), Brian Terrell (Maloy, Ia.), and Ron Faust (Kansas City, Mo.) gather June 6 for their court date in Jefferson City, Mo.
Photo by Marc Saviano

Our polite request to the base sentries for directions to headquarters to deliver the indictment was denied and our way blocked by military police who handcuffed us and took us away. Our 30 or so companions were chased off the property by about 50 Air Force personnel in full riot gear. They performed a carefully if grotesquely choreographed drill routine, complete with goosesteps and synchronized grunts and beating of clubs on shields. Reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch or of the “Springtime for Hitler” dance number in the Mel Brooks musical “The Producers,” this performance reveals a government literally scared silly by its own citizens.

In court, Mark pled guilty to the charge. Before accepting this plea from a defendant representing himself, Judge Matt J. Whitworth questioned Mark: Did he know that if he pled “not guilty,” he would have the right to a full trial, to present evidence, to call witnesses on his behalf, and to cross-examine any witness the government might bring in to testify against him?

Mark replied that he was aware of all this, but that these rights simply do not exist anymore. The Obama administration had not only claimed for itself the prerogative to arrest and indefinitely imprison any suspected “terrorist” without trial, but also to target noncitizens and citizens alike and to order their executions by missile-bearing drones anywhere in the world, with no more “due process” than the president’s determination. Mark asked to be sentenced immediately.

Judge Whitworth agreed and asked the probation office to prepare a presentence report, listing Mark’s previous “crimes” and other factors. Five hours later we were back in court, where the assistant U.S. attorney, citing Mark’s dozen or so previous arrests for protests, asked the judge to keep him in prison for four months, sparing him the maximum six-month sentence in consideration for his guilty plea, saving the trouble of a trial. Mark said that as a disciple of Jesus, he had no other choice but to act as he had done. Citing difficulties his family will face in his absence, Mark asked only for a few months’ time before surrendering himself to prison.

Judge Whitworth sentenced Mark to four months in prison, beginning in six weeks. The judge proclaimed his commitment to the security of the base and cited the valuable warplanes and other weapons the Air Force keeps at Whiteman that need protection. Judge Whitworth assured Mark that “the good Lord would rather have you protest off the base and stay out of trouble. When you trespass, you are only hurting yourself.”

Judge Whitworth should be informed before he offers such counsel that Mark’s good Lord bids him not to stay on the sidelines avoiding inconvenience and suffering. The God whose words are cast in bronze on the floor of the courthouse rotunda regards the weapons amassed at Whiteman Air Force Base not as resources to be protected by riot police or defended by putting the likes of Mark behind walls, but as swords waiting to be beaten into plowshares.

Ron and I pled not guilty and were given a trial date of Sept. 5; that might be changed to Sept. 12 or 19. This will be my third trial for resisting drone warfare, once in Nevada at Creech Air Force Base and once at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, N.Y. After more than three decades as a peace and human rights activist, these two actions have evoked the most dramatic, intense, and unpredictable trials. I expect no different in Jefferson City.

The other “drone trials” I participated in were prosecuted by local assistant district attorneys who have “no dog in this race,” arguing in state courts where judges can too easily claim to be neutral arbiters of the facts. In this case, we are in a U.S. district court, and the prosecution will be handled by a young captain in the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps, acting as a special assistant U.S. attorney. “Going federal” raises the stakes: witness Mark’s four months compared with my one night of “time served” in Las Vegas and my 10 days in a New York jail this past winter. Federal prosecutors also have more case law at their disposal empowering them to limit testimony, to exclude the domestic and international laws that make drone warfare a criminal, legally preventable act. They have more power to shut us up. Still, I appreciate the clarity that speaking in U.S. district court will bring this fall, addressing the Air Force and the U.S. empire more directly than at my previous trials.

Ron will be represented by Ruth O’Neill, attorney and Catholic Worker from Columbia, Mo., and I will represent myself with assistance from Kansas City-area attorney Henry Stoever. Both are good friends and experienced resistance lawyers (Henry is awaiting trial himself for his part in the nuke weapons segment of the Trifecta Resista—an Aug. 17 trial at which he will be represented by Ruth!). We are lining up expert witnesses (former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, constitutional law expert Bill Quigley, former State Department official Col. Ann Wright, and Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence) and collecting evidence for our trial on Sept. 12 or 19. My best hopes for the courtroom are that we can keep from being distracted by the minutiae of a falsely alleged “trespass” and keep focused on the infinitely more serious crimes committed by our drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and other places known and unknown.

Please join us this fall in Jefferson City. Will justice flow like a river in the U.S. district courthouse there, or will the judge and prosecutor hold it festering as in a stagnant pool? Is this the temple of justice, of law and reason, that it purports to be, or is it instead the “whited sepulcher,” beautiful on the outside but on the inside putrid, rotten, and full of corruption? Does this court have a place in a peaceful and just future, or is this shiny new building, like the condemned prison across the street, already a relic of a barbaric and wholly regrettable past? The world waits to know. We also plan for a return to the “scene of the crime,” Whiteman Air Force Base, to protest the ongoing crimes of the drones flown from there. We invite you to join us in resistance and perhaps to lay the foundations of your own federal case in Jefferson City!

—Brian Terrell of the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa, is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. This article, edited, is excerpted from

Seven arrested as Trifecta Resista stages 3 rallies

by Jane Stoever

Demonstrators gather outside the new NNSA campus.
Photo by Robyn Haas

One weekend, three rallies, seven arrests for civil resistance. How’s that for ambition? The Midwest Trifecta Resista April 13-15 maxed us out but still wowed us: such great people, such cohesive action. Sponsored by PeaceWorks and groups listed below, our Trifecta led us to Fort Leavenworth to protest the imprisonment of Bradley Manning; to the new nuke-parts plant in Kansas City, Mo., to call for a world free from nuclear weapons; and to Whiteman Air Force Base to oppose drones.

See the photos and video clips.

Fort Leavenworth. Some 28 of us held Bradley Manning support signs on the morning of April 14 at an entry to Fort Leavenworth in Leavenworth, Kan. Manning, charged with releasing documents and video to Wikileaks, has been imprisoned there. He is now in Maryland or New Jersey for pretrial hearings and a possible court-martial trial in August, but he is expected to return to Fort Leavenworth later. One of our signs urged, "Free the truth teller!"

Midge Potts of Springfield, Mo., told our Trifecta group, "Bradley Manning has been accused of releasing a video of civilians being gunned down by our military—the military has been suppressing these crimes. And the media have apparently made it a crime that Bradley Manning was trying to find out about his sexuality; the media treat gender identity as a crime."

Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, based in Chicago, reflected, "The two main causes of insolvable problems today are the military-industrial complex and the prison-industrial complex. Bradley Manning’s courage is something we can catch."

Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, compared Manning’s treatment with that of Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, charged with killing 17 Afghan civilians in their sleep March 11. Terrell said Manning has not been accorded the presumption of innocence and, instead, was kept for several months in solitary confinement in Quantico, Va., "in conditions that international observers say is tantamount to torture" before coming to Fort Leavenworth. However, said Terrell, Bales was brought to Fort Leavenworth within a few days and allowed commissary privileges and visits with family and lawyers, clearly benefiting from the presumption of innocence.

Some of the 175 balloons released in memory of children killed by drones.
Photo by Robyn Haas

New nuke-parts production site. About 35 of us gathered April 14 in the afternoon at the entry to the new nuke-parts production plant in southern KC. Those arrested for crossing the line marking public from private property were Potts; Lu Mountenay of Independence, Mo.; Mark Kenney of Omaha; and Henry Stoever of Overland Park, Kan. After strategizing with Pace e Bene leaders Jerica Arents and Regina Rust of Chicago, our community of supporters walked side-by-side with our resisters across the line. Supporters gradually stepped back after being ordered to withdraw—heartening accompaniment! The four were released on $100 bonds within a few hours and have Municipal Court hearings for trespass at 1:30 p.m. May 15. Some of the four may request a trial setting to be able to testify; stay tuned.

In an April 11 letter to KC’s chief prosecutor and chief of police, Stoever said he would risk arrest, adding, "The plant's end-products become weapons of mass destruction, ready for our ‘first strike’ threat. The Kansas City Plant haunts us or should haunt us."

Whiteman AFB. About 35 of us resisted drone operations on April 15 at Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, Mo. We released black balloons commemorating the children killed by drones and flew kites for peace on earth, peace in the sky. Mark Kenney; Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa; and Ron Faust of KC were arrested. Many of us followed the three across the line of demarcation for the base, walking maybe 40 yards before officers approached us. Terrell held up our indictment of President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Whiteman AFB’s Brigadier General Scott Vander Hamm, and every drone crew for "extrajudicial targeted killings" by reaper drones. Terrell told the officers, "We want to go to the commander" to present the indictment. An officer answered, "We can't allow you to do that." Terrell replied, "Our consciences won't allow us not to." The three were led to a gym for processing. Earlier, Terrell had told us the indictment was adapted from one presented last year at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in New York.

At the time of the arrest, perhaps 50 very young Air Force military-police-in-training poured out of a bus in full riot gear and formed a three-rows-deep line across the wide entry road. They moved slowly toward us, sometimes beating their long batons against their plastic body-shields in a precision drill. Tamara Severns of KC, a Trifecta coordinator, took the megaphone, telling the young officers, "As I look around, you’re the same age as all the kids out here. We want peace, and you guys want peace. You don’t want to go kill people."

Kathy Kelly called to them, "We assuredly mean you no harm." Referring to the shields covering their faces and bodies, she said, "I think of the Good Witch Glenda in The Wizard of Oz." Kelly sang, "Come out, come out, wherever you are!" She added, "You’re very good—you don’t frighten us. But the U.S. owns half of the world’s weapons. We could change this ... together. We look forward to being in the front line with you" to ban war’s weapons. Within 75 minutes, Terrell, Kenney, and Faust rejoined us with federal statements charging them with trespass and saying they’d be notified of a court date. Their sentences may be as high as $1,000 and/or 6 months in jail.

Military police in riot gear push back demonstrators who had crossed the line onto Whiteman AFB.
Photo by Robyn Haas

Our Trifecta was proposed in February by Col. Ann Wright; the weekend had earlier been intended for only the nuke-parts plant protest. Wright, at home in Hawaii for physical therapy, joined our Trifecta on April 15 by phone, commending us on addressing three issues: "Thank you for supporting Bradley Manning and/or whoever released documents to Wikileaks. … You are protesting the hypocrisy of U.S. policy in saying Iran and North Korea cannot have nuclear weapons. ... As drones fly over Somalia, Pakistan, and the U.S., right here in Hawaii we have drones practicing flying between two sacred islands. And today, for the first time, drones are being protested at Whiteman AFB. Blessings to the beautiful kites and balloons as they fly over Whiteman Air Force Base, hopefully changing the views of the men and women who operate the drones."

The Trifecta collective displayed signs such as "Exposing war crimes is not a crime," "War is not a video game," and "Assassination drones—the killing business is booming." Some people joined in the whole weekend; some joined for only awhile; maybe 50 people participated in toto.

Cosponsors: PeaceWorks-KC, KC Peace Planters, Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC, American Friends Service Committee-KC, local Catholic Worker houses, Vets for Peace-KC, Mid-MO Peace Coalition, Occupy KC, Loretto Peace & Justice Network, Benedictines for Peace, and Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Social Justice Office.


	The bullies try to gag whistleblowers,
	The CIA sneaks drones into our private lives
	And KC builds a nuclear weapons plant
			 All in the sacred name of National Defense,

	As if middle America will never notice
			 And ask what these jobs are producing
			 And who is profiting from this industry,
	Business as usual while flirting with disaster.

	From Bradley Manning who exposed the truth
	To Col. Wright and the deadly work of drones,
	And Kathy Kelly who led us in civil resistance,
			 We go from Fort Leavenworth to KC to Whiteman,
		 As others promote an evil industry of destruction.

	So many follow blindly down the road, saluting
							The Military Industrial Complex
			 And naively dabble in the trifecta evils of
						 racism, capitalism, and militarism,
	Yet we would be free to ban weapons of death
			 and save the human race for life,
							not only sparing ourselves from a quick death
	but also from living a slow death. Free us from both,
	Knowing that we belong to the peace community.

(On occasion of the April 13-15, 2012, Trifesta Resista, with demonstrations for Bradley Manning and against drones at Whiteman AFB and nuclear weapons at KC)

Col. Ann Wright targets predator drones

By Jim Hannah

Col. Ann Wright defies pigeonholing.

She doesn’t carry the military bearing you might expect of someone who served 29 years in the U.S. Army and received a heroism award.

Col. Ann Wright speaking in KC on Feb. 20, 2012. Photo by Jim Hannah.

She doesn’t convey the worldly manner you might expect of someone who served 16 years in the State Department, including assignment in Mongolia and Afghanistan.

And she doesn’t come across in the strident manner you might expect of a strongly opinionated whistleblower.

But when this rather quiet-mannered woman of middle age speaks in her soft voice, words of steel emerge. And those truth-telling words found their mark for the 80 or so persons gathered Feb. 20 at Kansas City’s All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. The audience gave her a standing ovation even before she began to speak. Her reputation preceded her: she resigned from the State Department to protest the Iraq War, she has been arrested for protesting predator drones, and she wrote a primer on speaking out, Dissent: Voices of Conflict.

Wright opened by thanking Kansas City-area peacemakers for their activism in opposition to the new nuclear weapons parts plant being built in south Kansas City. She termed "heart-breaking" the way nuclear weapons and the military-industrial complex have become "the biggest industry in America."

In her quiet manner, Wright then proceeded to pillory U.S. foreign policies that have led to military misadventures such as Iraq, noting that violence there has decreased since the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops (even though some 30,000 private contactors still remain).

Among the many word pictures Col. Wright painted, those sketching the growing use of predator drones by the U.S. were the most gripping. Our foreign policy and the war on terror, she said, are used as justification to "go after everyone, anywhere." Our country increasingly relies on drones to cross national boundaries on search-and-destroy missions globally. As many as 3,000 persons may have been killed by predator drones to date, she said—most of them civilians. "Assassin drones are everywhere," she said, particularly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. Not even U.S. citizens are safe from their reach if the U.S. government deems them to be terrorists. No trial by jury, just assassination from the air.

Most of the drone operators, Wright said, are "kids"—young adult males who have grown up with video war games and now are operating actual weapons of death 7,000 miles from their targets. Because they are distanced from their kills (unlike ground combat, where everyone has "some skin in the game"), the drone operators at Whiteman Air Force Base simply go home to their families at the end of the day. The process is so depersonalized, Wright said, that civilian deaths by drones are termed "bug splat," and those that get away are called "squirters."

One policy she particularly decried was the bombing of funerals, where a first drone strike is followed by a second strike to kill those who came to the aid of the injured. "If we are to be in the community of nations," she said, "we need to consider carefully our actions." American imperialism, she said, is having inevitable blowback as the number of civilian deaths by drones mounts; the ratio of civilians killed to combatants is 50 to 1.

One of the most eye-opening moments of the evening was Wright’s observation that assassin drones like those being flown over Pakistan are not operated by the U.S. military, but by the Central Intelligence Agency. Oversight of this covert agency and its secret budget is problematic since its personnel are civilians, rather than military, and operate in areas of undeclared war. For those reasons, Wright said, "they fit in the category of unlawful combatants and terrorists."

Unless policies change, Wright said, drones seem to be the way of the future. Twelve predator drones are already cruising the U.S.-Mexico border, she said, and law enforcement is increasingly looking to them for surveillance. Their range and capabilities are also expanding rapidly—some as small as a hummingbird for maneuvering tight places, others capable of operating at 50,000 feet and staying aloft two weeks. "Drone construction, operation, and maintenance is a growth industry of the Defense Department," she noted.

Whistleblowers like herself, she said, can expect pushback from those who profit from war. She herself is banned from Canada after being placed on a felony list because of her war resistance. "They want you to know they can threaten you," she said. But then she opened her jacket to show a black T-shirt with words in white: "We will not be silent."

—Reporting and photo by Jim Hannah, PeaceWorks, Kansas City, Board member

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