Four arrests at Pentagon during Holy Innocents witness

from Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker

From December 27-28, about 20 members from the Atlantic and Southern Life communities, and other peacemaking friends, gathered for a retreat at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church in Washington, D.C., and a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon to commemorate the Massacre of the Holy Innocents – past and present.  
The retreat began at 2 p.m. on December 27 with introductions and orientation followed by a very rich community Lectio Divina scripture sharing on Matthew’s account of the massacre of the innocents. (Mt. 2:13-18)  
After a short break, Joan and Don Wages, along with their amazing college age sons, Nolan and Jackson, offered an inspiring presentation about their family journey to follow the Gospel call of nonviolence. This included Don sharing about why he left his job working for the military contractor Lockheed Martin, and Joan’s decision to become involved in social activism and civil resistance actions. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in preparation for the nonviolent witness at the Pentagon. 
After dinner we celebrated liturgy together. As part of the liturgy we listened to and reflected together in small groups on the audio version of Martin Luther King Jr’s powerful Christmas Sermon on Peace of 1967, which was recorded as part of the Massey Lectures on CBC radio. The sermon was accompanied by a compelling slide show documenting King’s involvement in the civil rights and peace movements.  
Braving a heavy steady rain, the community gathered early the next morning at the Pentagon’s southeast entrance with signs and banners. As we exited the metro we were met by a Pentagon police detail who escorted us to the designated  protest area. As Pentagon workers walked by, an introduction to our presence was offered. The Gospel passage about the slaughter of the holy innocents was proclaimed. The Coventry Carols was sung. A litany was offered (see below) interspersed with the refrain: “War Hurts Children—Help Us End War.” And a prayer and blessing was given by Janice, one of the four about to risk arrest.
Carrying copies of the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” with the intention of delivering it to a Pentagon official and requesting that the U.S. ratify it, four members of the community made their way to the police check point closest to the building where they encountered  Pentagon police. They were told by the officers that they must leave or face arrest. While the first several paragraphs of the Treaty were read,  a Pentagon worker passed by and said “Thank you for keeping us honest.” After arrest warnings were given they were placed under arrest. As the four were being escorted to police vehicles, the rest of the community, from a distance sang “The Cry of Ramah!” The witness concluded with everyone singing “Vine and Fig Tree” as the community processed down the escalator and into the Pentagon metro station lobby.
Upon returning to the church, there was a pot-luck breakfast, clean-up, and an evaluation of the Pentagon witness and retreat. We were all ever so grateful for our time together. 
The four who were arrested were taken to the Pentagon Police center where they were processed and charged with “Disobeying A Lawful Order.” All were released and given a March 21 court date at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. However, the group will request a new court date as several people will not be able to make the assigned court appearance. 

 Those Arrested:

Joan Wages
Bill Frankel-Streit
Janice Sevre-Duszynska
Dave MacMillan
Pentagon Litany
The Massacre of the Innocents Starts at the Pentagon! Let us Stop It Here and Now!
Today, Christian churches commemorate the Massacre of the Holy Innocents, recalling how Herod, fearful of being removed from power, sought to destroy the child Jesus by ordering the slaughter of boys under two years old in and around Bethlehem. We, members of the Atlantic and Southern Life Communities and other peace groups, come to the Pentagon, the center of warmaking on our planet, to remember the  innocents who have died–past and present–due to greed, oppression, racism and war. Today, in this time of perpetual war and climate chaos, the lives of countless innocents, like those in Bethlehem, are endangered. Our faith compels us to nonviolently resist this onslaught.
Refrain: War Hurts Children, Help Us End War! 
The United States military magnifies destruction across the globe, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and throughout the Middle East. From overt wars to covert “dirty wars,” which involve the use of lethal killer drones, countless lives are destroyed, displaced and disappeared. We are ever so mindful that children are always the first victims of war.

Refrain: War Hurts Children, Help Us End War! 

In Yemen, the U.S. continues to provide direct military support and weapons to Saudi Arabia in its brutal war against the Houthi rebels, even though a recent Senate resolution called for an end to such support. Thousands have died from the war, starvation is widespread and suspected cholera cases have exceeded one million. 
Refrain: War Hurts Children, Help Us End War! 
Save the Children conservatively estimates that 85,000 Yemeni children under age five  have died from starvation and disease during the last three years. Mainstream media and even governments of large and wealthy countries are finally beginning to acknowledge the anguish suffered by Yemeni children and their families. Stark photos show listless, skeletal children who are minutes or days away from death.                            
Refrain: War Hurts Children, Help Us End War! 

Since 2010, according to The New York Times, the United States has sold the Saudis thirty F-15 multirole jet fighters, eighty-four combat helicopters, 110 air-to-surface cruise missiles, and 20,000 precision guided bombs. Last year, the United States also sold the Saudis ten maritime helicopters in a $1.9 billion deal. A Lockheed Martin made bomb was used in the Saudi bombing of a school bus in Yemen on Aug. 9, 2018 killing over 40 children. 

Refrain: War Hurts Children, Help Us End War!
The violence of the U.S. power structure is unrelenting. Within our own boundaries it continues to crush the poor, target people of color, demonize Muslims, oversee a mass incarceration complex, demean, detain, tear gas and separate immigrants and their families and militarize the southern border. To date eight migrants have died at the border in U.S. custody, including two children, Felipe and Jakilyn.

Refrain: War Hurts Children, Help Us End War! 

Fear, violence and greed are the hallmarks of the Trump Administration and U.S. power structure. And always, the existence of nuclear weapons puts all life in utter peril. This threat is further exacerbated by past and present provocative actions towards N. Korea and Iran by an unpredictable president, the deployment of U.S. missile defense systems designed to threaten and contain Russia and China, and the U.S. militarization of space.

Refrain: War Hurts Children, Help Us End War!
Every day, the world’s addiction to oil, natural gas and nuclear power is the cause of environmental contamination that is threatening global devastation. The Dakota Access pipeline is but one example of the earth’s desecration, and which is continuing to be courageously resisted by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other water protectors. With nearly 800 military bases worldwide establishing its vast war machine, the Pentagon is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, making it a major contributor to destabilizing the climate. 
Refrain: War Hurts Children, Help Us End War! 
“Redeem the times,” proclaims the late peacemaking prophet, Jesuit Priest, Daniel Berrigan, along with countless others. “The times are inexpressibly evil.  And yet, the times are inexhaustibly good, solaced by the courage and hope of many. The truth rules, Christ is not forsaken.”
The violence, massacres and disregard for the truth and human life stops here today at the Pentagon. Now is the time for personal and societal transformation. In solidarity with sisters and brothers around the world, we resolve to:
–renounce and resist all killing, violence, racism and torture
–end environmental destruction, poverty and economic inequality
–respect the human rights of all people, especially immigrants and refugees                                                                                                                              –train and form diplomats, truth commissions, developers of international economies, trade specialists, nonviolent reconciliation teams, hospital ships, institutes for justice and peace, renewable energy implementation, mass transit lines, etc.
–commit in policy that our country eliminate war and weapons forever, hammer all swords into plowshares and convert the war economy so our planet and people may live
–build homes for all, assure healthy food for all,  develop health care and education for all, plan an economy for full employment
–implore the U.S. and all nuclear nations to sign, ratify, and implement the UN Treaty for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons 
–celebrate God’s creation with joy.
As we move into a New Year we invite you to join with us as we strive to create the beloved community and a nonviolent world.