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Inspired by the “Massacre of the Innocents”, protests against U.S. drone attacks were held on Dec. 28, 2021, “Holy Innocents Day” in at least five communities, primarily in upstate New York.  A slide show of the events in upstate New York can be found here: https://upstatedroneaction.org  

Here are reports provided by participants in all the protests:

Binghamton, NY
by Mary Anne Grady Flores

Organizations from around Upstate New York are working together to call for a congressional investigation into twenty years of USA killing of Middle East Civilians.

Veterans for Peace, Peace Action of Broome, Upstate Drone Action, and more met outside the Federal Building, where Senator Chuck Schumer office is located.

These organizations are calling upon Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and President Biden to end sanctions, unfreeze funds of Afghanistan Banks to prevent death and starvation in Afghanistan.

Peace Action Board Member, Jack Gilroy, tells the story about what happened to members of the Ahmadi family, in Afghanistan, several months ago.

“They were slaughtered by Lockheed Martin Missiles made just fifteen point three miles away from Disney World in Orlando Florida, fired from a Reaper drone made by the company known as, General Atomics, which is just eighty-three miles away from Disneyland in California,” he said.

“We Americans are capable of giving great joy to our children – not so much to children of the Middle East”, Jack said.

He followed that with saying this was one of thousands of U.S. drone attacks that have killed and terrorized people in the Middle East over the past twenty years.

Gilroy stated that two weeks ago the release of hidden Pentagon files by the New York Times documented thousands of innocent civilians were killed by precision weapons.

He added that Daniel Hale, a killer drone analyst, has been arrested for getting the truth out about what the New York Times reported.

Gilroy and other speakers at the protest are asking Biden to release Hale, end the Pentagon cover-up, and provide reparations to the Ahmadi family.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved.

FOX 40 (WICZ) TV reported (the protest) as their #1 news item on their website, thanks to good reporting of Vincenzo Scarapicchio. Watch and read below.

TV Channel 34 reporter Jackie Gillis also came to the press conference, posting an excellent video and article, posted below. 

FOX 40 By Vincenzo Scarapicchio

https://www.wicz.com/clip/15286036/veterans-for-peace-protests-hidden-pentagon-documents

TV Channel 34 reporter Jackie Gillis

https://www.binghamtonhomepage.com/news/organizations-calling-for-end-to-us-drone-attacks/


Rochester, NY
by Paul Frazier

About 20 Holy Innocents Day protesters gathered at the Federal Building in Rochester on Dec. 28, representing Veterans For Peace, Pax Christi, Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace, Upstate Drone Action and Arkport (NY) Catholic Worker.  Three local news organizations filmed the protest.  Here is a photo by Peg Gefell, and a news report from WXXI.


Protesters gather in Rochester to oppose military use of drones
by Randy Gorbman

Protesters gathered outside the Federal Building on State Street in Rochester Tuesday to demonstrate against the use of drones by the U.S. military.

Specifically, the members of a group called the Upstate New York Drone Action Coalition pointed to a recent investigation by the New York Times that found that U.S. airstrikes have killed thousands of civilians in places that include Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Harry Murray is one of those who was at the protest that attracted a couple of dozen people. He’s concerned because of the remote way in which the military can carry out the drone attacks from thousands of miles away.

“You’re not risking any American troops, and therefore it’s too easy to order drone strikes, which may increase the risk of a real war breaking out because the people who get killed and the relatives of people who get killed don’t appreciate these attacks,” said Murray.

Reverend James Swarts is a Navy veteran, and he heads up the local chapter of a group called Veterans for Peace.

He said that some former military members have seen the destruction that drones, that hit civilian targets, can cause.

“Our members have seen the results of the campaign of predator drones,” Murray said, “causing so much grief that you’re killing families, children and no accountability.”

A spokesman for the U.S. military told the New York Times that mistakes do happen because of incomplete information and other issues, but he said the military works hard to avoid that type of harm.

In response to questions from the Times, Capt. Bill Urban, the spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said that “even with the best technology in the world, mistakes do happen, whether based on incomplete information or misinterpretation of the information available. And we try to learn from those mistakes.”

Urban also told the Times that, “We work diligently to avoid such harm. We investigate each credible instance. And we regret each loss of innocent life.

“The gathering today is a call for a congressional investigation, following the  New York Times revelation of the hidden documents that killed innocent civilians.” said Veterans for Peace Board Member Jack Gilroy.

The documents were released by U.S Drone Analyst Daniel Hale, who was convicted for releasing classified documents in July of 2021. Hale is currently serving a 45-month sentence.

Gilroy voiced his frustration for the sentencing for Hale. “We are calling on our President, President Biden, to call for the release of Daniel Hale from prison.”

Veterans for Peace spoke on illegal and unjust military practices during the 20-year War on Terrorism in the middle east.

One member questioned who the real terrorists were. “We have a war on terrorism; who are the terrorists? I would say we are.”

Veterans for Peace demands that reparations be made to the families of innocent civilians killed in the Middle East.

The press release announcing the Binghamton protest is in Attachment A.


Des Moines, IA
by Frank Cordaro

A rain and ice storm canceled our 5th annual Feast of the Holy Innocents presents at the Iowa Air Guard Armed Drone Command Center today.

Instead, Des Moines Catholic Workers gathered on the Phil Berrigan CW House front porch for the attached photo with our Feast of the Holy Innocents banners message”

Herod Killed the infants (Matt 2:16)
DM Drone Command Kills Them Too!
Celebrate Christmas. SHUT DOWN DM’s Armed Drone Command!

(LtoR) Ed Bloomer, Jerald ‘Bud’ Flanders, Austin Cook, La Shon Winfield, Jean Riehm and Julie Brown. Photo by Frank Cordaro.

Baltimore, MD
by Max Obuszewski:

When Kathy Kelly and Nick Mottern with Ban Killer Drones called for actions on December 28th, the Christian Feast of the Holy Innocents, the Baltimore Nonviolence Center responded.  From 4 to 5 PM, there was a vigil outside Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus in Baltimore. Joining the vigil were Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Cindy Farquhar, Brian Barrett and Max Obuszewski.  The main two signs were Ban Killer Drones and Drones Kill Children.  A number of passersby, in vehicles or walking, expressed support for the vigil.  They thanked us for speaking out.

JHU was an obvious choice, as it is the #1 School of Mass Destruction.  And besides its nuclear weapons research, it has many military contracts, including one to do research on swarming drones.  When the Bush Administration attacked Iraq in 2003, falsely claiming Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory designed the guidance systems for the sea-launched cruise missiles.

The recent report in the New York Times, “Civilian Casualties Files,” was another reason to take action. Besides the call for actions, Ban Killer Drones is urging concerned citizens to lobby House Democrats to investigate the U.S. military’s systematic cover-up of civilian casualties caused by its drone-dependent air wars.  There must be an investigation into the numbers and identities of all people killed by U.S. drones in the past twenty years.

Finally, consider contacting the president of JHU to urge him to take a stance against killer drones. You may contact President Ron Daniels at the Office of the President, 242 Garland Hall, The Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Maryland 21218.  You can also reach his office by Phone: (410) 516-8068, Fax: (410) 516-6097 or Email: . Contact Max at or 410-323-1607 with any questions.

Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Max Obuszewski, Brian Barrett and Cindy Farquhar protesting at Johns Hopkins University on Dec. 28, 2021.

Offutt Air Force Base, Belleville, Nebraska
by Brian Terrell

For more than four decades, each year on December 28, on the day that the church remembers the infants of Bethlehem who were slaughtered by King Herod who feared the birth of Jesus as a national security threat, activists have witnessed at the gates of Offutt Air Force Base outside Omaha. Offutt is the home base for STRATCOM, the command of US strategic nuclear weapons and it also houses a vital hub for communications for drone bases in the US. This year five Catholic Workers from around the midwest kept vigil.

Brian Terrell, Maloy, Iowa; Jerry Ebner, Omaha, Nebraska: Cassandra Dixon, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; Jim Murphy, Highland, Wisconsin. Photo by Denny Davis, Burbank, South Dakota

The banners say:

“King Herod murdered the children of Bethlehem; Biden murders the children of Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen; STRATCOM threatens every child. Merry Christmas- Disarm!” “Herod Killed the Infants – STRATCOM would Kill the World – Celebrate Christmas, Shut Down STRATCOM”.

Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Max Obuszewski, Brian Barrett and Cindy Farquhar protesting at Johns Hopkins University on Dec. 28, 2021.

Washington, DC
by Art Laffin

Dear Friends,

Early this morning from 7-8 AM, fourteen peacemakers from the (Washington, DC metropolitan area) held a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon, the center of war-making on the planet,  to commemorate the feast of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents–-past and present. Yesterday,  President Biden signed the House and Senate approved NDAA 2022 military spending bill of $768 billion. This exorbitant expenditure is an abomination– an affront to God and a crime against the poor!

see: https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/president-biden-and-congress-us-military-budget-affront-god.

We carried with us the spirit of many friends from the Atlantic and Southern Life communities and elsewhere who ordinarily would be present for this witness, but were not able to travel due to the pandemic. The witness was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. 

We gathered for our witness in the “designated protest area” on the southeast side of the Pentagon displaying signs and banners as civilian workers and soldiers passed by. Luci Murphy led us in singing several opening songs: Down by the RiversideBring Our Soldiers Home (Tune: Hark the Herald Angels Sing) by Joelee Adlerblum–Revised 3/2014) and an alternative version of O Come All Ye Faithful, copyright: Just Peace UK. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhSwb8JnHvo.

I offered a brief statement of purpose for the witness which was followed by Rev. Chuck Booker reading a Gospel account of the massacre of the innocents, (Mt. 2:13-18). We then sang the “Coventry Carol” and Frank Panopolous read a poem by Sr. Anne Montgomery (Presente!): “Feast of the Holy Innocents-1991-In Memoriam: Mass Graves.” (see below) The “Cry of Ramah” was then sung by all, followed by Paul Magno and Merwyn and Kirstin DeMello reading a declaration: “Redeem the Times.” (see below) In remembering the massacre of the innocents today, the names were read of seven children of the Ahmadi family who were killed on Aug. 29, 2021 by a Lockheed Martin Hellfire missile fired from a General Atomics Reaper Drone. After each name we responded; “We Remember You!”

Binyamin: boy, 3-year-old
Armin: boy, 4-year-old
Ayat: 2-year-old girl
Sumaya: little girl, age unknown
Malaka, 3-year-old
Farsal: 10-year-old
Farsad: 10-year-old

We also remembered the thousands of innocent civilians who died as a result of US drone attacks and air strikes over the last twenty years. The New York Times recently published a two-part series exposing a vast cover-up by the Pentagon of hiding the numbers of civilians killed by these US bombings. See: https://www.democracynow.org/2021/12/22/us_airstrikes_routinely_kill_civilians  We called for the Pentagon, weapons contractors and the US government to repent for these sinful criminal attacks and make reparations to all the victims’ families.

We also read the names of 13 homeless people who were among the 69 people who died without the dignity of home in D.C. in 2021. We also remembered the 141 members of the homeless community in D.C. who died after moving into housing in 2021.

Paul then offered a prayer remembering South African Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu who died on Dec. 26. This was followed by a prayer from Kathy Boylan calling on all soldiers and military chaplains to leave the military and refuse orders to kill. We ended the witness with a concluding prayer, Luci singing a powerful version of Mother’s Day by Peter Jones (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcFxguw0gJs), and the “Vine and Fig Tree” song.

During this Holy Season we are reminded once again of the promise of Emmanuel, God is with us. And we are invited by Jesus to make the Word flesh and to nonviolently resist the Herod’s of this world and all forces of death. We are ever mindful of the hope-filled message of the angel Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth, that nothing will be impossible for God! As we approach the end of 2021 and begin 2022, let us pray for each other, keep our eyes on the prize and do all we can to makes God’s reign of justice, love, peace and nonviolence a reality.

In Christ’s peace and hope,
Art


Redeem the Times Declaration

(Note: We are indebted to Dan Berrigan and Ardeth Platte–Presente!–for their contributions to this declaration).

”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 national repentance and 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 makes reparations to all victims of its military interventions worldwide, abolish 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 meaningful employment;

–implore the U.S. and all nuclear nations to sign, ratify, and implement the UN Treaty for the Prohibition 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.


FEAST OF THE INNOCENTS: 1991–In Memoriam: Mass Graves
by Sr. Anne Montgomery, RSCJ

A voice in Ramah — a voice in Panama, Iraq–
weeping,
as yet again, Herod proclaims new birth
a threat,
the young expendable,
beginnings buried:
bulldozed into ditches,
shoveled into unmarked graves,
cast into the sea,
or flamed to ashes.

But in the sand and sea,
grass and cinders,
in silences,
the question will not die:
“Where is the one who is born?”
the child who sees with one eye__
or not at all,
who walks with one leg–
or never again,
whose dreams were shattered by shrapnel,
hunger stilled by pain.

The year’s death reminds us of an old story,
a nightmare that will not go away,
but, dragon-like, rises from the sea,
blinds the dawn,
blasphemes God’s name and dwelling
with fire from heaven
on those, uncounted, who do not count:
“You the nameless, do not exist.”
So it has been decreed,
for to allow the naming,
to confess reality and promise,
means new birth,
new time,
new humanity.
And so on this hill, clothed by the year’s new grass,
the Child gives each of you whom no one can name
or even number,
a new name–beyond our comprehension–
and to us who gather here, a hope, a challenge,
a new way back to an old land.

It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.
They will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee. (Isaiah 35: 9-10)

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.

Howard Thurman is an African-American theologian, pastor, and mystic who lived from 1899 to 1981. He is best known as a mentor and spiritual advisor to the Civil Rights Movement, and Martin Luther King Jr in particular. Thurman wrote many great spiritual texts, including Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), Disciplines of the Spirit (1977), and more. This poem is from The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations.


ATTACHMENT A

Come to our press conference at
Binghamton’s Federal Building, 15 Henry Street
Tuesday, December 28, 12:00 noon

Topic: Release of Pentagon Hidden Documents revealing thousands of innocents killed, as disclosed by The New York Times & Free Daniel Hale

Senator Charles Schumer wants upstate NY to be a major producer of killer drones, an ill-advised attempt to boost our economy.

We will meet at the Federal Building 15 Henry Street, outside the first-floor office of Senator Schumer.

Christians observe December 28th as the Feast of the Holy Innocents, remembering the babies slaughtered by King Herod some 2,000 years ago.  Biblical scholars say perhaps as many as 20 babies were killed in the city of Bethlehem.

The NY Times now has documents indicating that THOUSANDS of innocents in the Middle East were slaughtered by the United States between 2001 and 2021.

Please come with signs and if you wish, a short statement to make. Bring your Christian and Jewish friends, your Cornell and Binghamton University friends (both institutions are contributors to drone warfare), and all who have worked in the war industry or had friends or relatives who were part of the system (nearly all of us).

This event is endorsed by: Peace Action of Broome County, Veterans for Peace Chapter 90, upstatedroneaction.org, UpStateNY Pax Christi, bankillerdrones.org, bensalmon.org

More information? Call 607 239 9605

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