Twenty-one activists arrested at Pentagon demanding accountability for war crimes and an end to ongoing U.S. wars


Photo by Paula LeRoy

On September 26, activists associated with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) went to the Pentagon to seek a meeting with decision-makers in the Pentagon chain of command, including Secretary Ashton Carter. The group told Pentagon police they wouldn’t leave until they spoke to an official in a position of authority about war crimes committed by the U.S. They asserted that they were following their obligations under the Nuremberg Principles to draw attention to these crimes of U.S. government elected and appointed officials. Although the activists were nonviolent, the Pentagon police placed 21 men and women under arrest and charged them with “violation of a lawful order”.

The activists also tried to deliver a petition signed by over 23,000 people to President Obama, Secretary Carter and German Chancellor Merkel calling for the closing of a drone relay station at U.S. Air Force Base Ramstein in Germany, which has been linked to the deaths of innocent civilians. Activists in Germany also attempted to deliver this petition to Merkel today. Australian activists acted in solidarity at the U.S. military base in Pine Gap, and another solidary action was held at West Point, New York by others concerned about the U.S. drone program.

Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska, one of those arrested, explained why she was at the Pentagon seeking a meeting today: “The measure of a healthy society is how we treat the marginalized. How can we care for them in a just and humane manner when 56% of the federal budget goes to the Pentagon for its 800+ military bases and the killing? That fills the pockets of the weapons manufacturers!”

Malachy Kilbride, another arrestee, said, “The reason why I took action today is because I am moved by conscience by the words of the late peace activist Daniel Berrigan who said ‘Because we want peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total – but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial.’ We all need to get out of our comfort zone and away from what is convenient for us when it comes to taking action. We cannot continue on the path of more war while so many social problems exist in society. War is a threat to Mother Earth and all humanity. The way of war is not sustainable.”

Beth Adams and Paki Wieland

Beth Adams and Paki Wieland

Those arrested are Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Richard Ochs and Malachy Kilbride of Maryland; Alice Sutter, Felton Davis and Chat Gunter of New York; Don Cunning and Manijeh Saba of New Jersey; Brian Terrell of Iowa; Phil Runkel of Wisconsin; Joan Stallard, Art Laffin and Eve Tetaz of Washington, D.C.; JoAnne Lingle of Indiana; Howard Mettee of Ohio; Phoebe Sorgen of California; Henry Lowendorf and James Pandaru of Connecticut; Beth Adams and Paki Wieland of Massachusetts; and Nancy Gowen of Virginia.

All 21 activists were released with a November 3, 2016 court date in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. They said they are looking forward to their day in court.

Today’s anti-war action at the Pentagon was part of Pace e Bene’s Campaign Nonviolence, which included over 700 actions of nonviolence around the world during the past week, calling for a culture of peace and nonviolence free from war, poverty, racism, environmental destruction and the epidemic of violence.

Many of the activists had attended the World Beyond War conference held in Washington, D.C. at American University over the weekend, entitled “No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism”.