These protests and vigils challenged the U.S. religious community to break its relative silence about U.S. wars and to speak out forcefully against U.S. military intervention, particularly the continuing U.S. “Over the Horizon” drone attack program and U.S. fear-mongering and aggression toward China.
This Vol. One, No. 2 of the BKD Action Scrapbook provides photos, videos and commentary on the Oct. 7 actions, not only to document what was achieved but also to display the various messages, venues and strategies with which we all continue to experiment.
The Syracuse, NY report contains a suggestion for cooperative action with the faith community from the Rev. Philip Major, of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Syracuse, that may be helpful in other communities.
In Syracuse, NY, the October 7th event was a three-church tour, organized by Paul Welch, Director of the Social Justice Ministry of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, that began at the Catholic Cathedral of the immaculate Conception and the Catholic Diocese office.
The Rev. Fred Daley and Ed Kinane spoke in a witness that focused on drone warfare, and Peter King (Unity Kitchen, Catholic Worker Community) and Mark Scibila-Carver said a Rosary of Non-violence. The group called the Bishop of Syracuse, Douglas Lucia to:
Object to the use of all weaponized drones, especially the “Over the Horizon” assassination plans of the US government.
Warn Catholics of Syracuse not to have anything to do with Hancock Air base and its drone warfare mission.
In the Name of Jesus, he teach with authority the nonviolent, Gospel truth about Jesus in relation to all war and killing.
The tour also visited the Plymouth Congregational Church, where anti-racism was the theme of speakers and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where climate emergency and environmental destruction were addressed.
Paul Welch offered this report, which includes encouragement from the Rev. Philip Major, pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, for anti-war and anti-drone war organizers to continue in working with the religious community:
“Our Rally in Syracuse had a different take than your Day of Atonement theme. Ed Kinane insisted that any Peace Rally must have a Justice component. Thus, the Rally developed into 3 connected phases. As Rev. Major’s suggestions below indicate, the Rally is meant to look forward. The clergy (involved) signed on with short notice and are vital to addressing our community/ nation’s sicknesses. The Episcopal Diocese was especially responsive on a ridiculously short timeline.”
Rev Philip Major sent the following suggestion to the Rev. Daley, the Rev. Neal Quartier, the Reverends Gary Smith and Eric Jackson, pastor of the Plymouth Congregational UUC Church:
“My larger suggestion is to work on coordinating a series of regular marches, perhaps 5-6 throughout the year, and connect these events to our faith communities’ calendars of saints.
There are some very obvious connections to vital themes:
Economic justice and concern for the poor: Oscar Romero, March 24.
Women’s empowerment: Harriet Tubman and the suffrage leaders, July 20 (in the Episcopal Calendar).
First people’s rights and sovereignty: David Oakerhater, August 31.
Racial justice: MLK, January 15/April 4.
Climate change/creation stewardship: Francis, October 4.
“We can shuffle these, change representatives and add others as you see fit – my main concern is for us to work on some sort of calendar of interfaith, social justice gatherings.
Ann Tiffany reports:
“Our event in Syracuse was focused on drones at the Cathedral but then racism and climate change at the other two churches. However, the plan is to continue these gatherings and we’ll be sure to have drones as a focus as much as possible…It really was impressive for Syracuse and may be a beginning of more involvement of the churches.”
As reported in this Channel 34 news report, Oct. 7 organizers visited three houses of worship in Binghamton, NY, where they delivered the following letter:
“In the past twenty years, wars generated by the United State have killed an estimated one million people in the Middle East. These wars began on this infamous date, October 7. Additionally, 9 million Iraqis have become refugees, after countless houses, apartment buildings, and businesses were destroyed. The crime of September 11, with 3,000 dead and two skyscrapers destroyed, actually pales in comparison.
“We who are here today represent numerous peace and justice groups across our nation and respectfully request your vocal objection to even more war-making and fear-producing. The near silence of religious denominations in the United States throughout these twenty years of war is, to us, simply shocking. “Pray for the troops” has become a mantra of virtually all religious groups and music to the ears of the Pentagon and its military contractors. It enables the war-makers to do their business while being blessed by the moral arbiters of America–religious communities and their leaders.
“We ask you, we implore you to:
vocally object to existing plans for more drone warfare
call for an end of the Over the Horizon assassination plan of our United States government,
speak out in opposition to the political, military, and corporate fear-making of China as our new enemy–a fear that is already generating great financial benefit to the Pentagon war contractors.
“We fervently hope, and pray, that you will lead your congregations and your colleagues to a more peaceful life on earth.”
Frank and Ed Bloomer, of Veterans For Peace, had also sent an email on Oct. 4 to Catholic Bishop Wiliam Joensen, head of the Diocese of Des Moines, in which they said:
“We ask you, we implore you, to vocally object to existing plans for more drone warfare. We urge you to call for an end of the ‘Over the Horizon’ assassination plan of our United States government. We beg you to call for the closing of the IA Air Guard Drone Command Center in Des Moines. We ask as well that you speak out in opposition to the political, military, and corporate fear-making of China as our new enemy-a fear that is already generating great financial benefit to the Pentagon war contractors.
Yours in Christ,
Frank Cordaro DMCW Ed Bloomer DMCW & DM VFP”
“Lots of slow traffic, horns beeping acknowledgment; passersby stopping to talk; encouragement from churchgoers.
“Christian and Nami from Valley Stream, NY (on a leaf-peeping trip) asked: ‘May we say ‘God speed!’ to an antiwar, presumably Marxist?’”
End All Wars!
Ban Killer Drones!
On Oct. 7, 2001, the United States began a 20-year long war against Afghanistan and initiated the so-called U.S. global “War on Terror”. That war, despite claims to the contrary, is not over. It is ongoing. We need to remember President Biden’s pledge to hunt down people anywhere in the world who are viewed by the U.S. government as threats. Biden said: “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay”. His threat is based on the U.S. use of weaponized drones to kill anyone, at anytime, anywhere.
In many places Oct. 7, 2021 is being observed as a “A Day of Atonement”, a day to repent for the war crimes of the US government and military in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world. An example of those crimes is the August 29th U.S. revenge drone attack in Kabul that killed ten innocent civilians, including 7 children. The MQ-9 Reaper drone that carried out that attack, and the Hellfire missile it fired, are now part of the military arsenal in Hawaii. MQ 9-Reaper drones are now based at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station on Oahu and the drones train throughout Hawaii, including the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) in the center of Hawaii Island. There is a world outcry to Ban Weaponized Drones that result in illegal and immoral assassinations. It appears that possibly 90% of those killed by weaponized drones have been other than those who were targeted. These Reaper assassination drones amount to “Over the Horizon” high tech vigilantism. See article https://www.civilbeat.org/2021/10/chad-blair-do-we-really-want-deadly-drones-based-in-hawaii/
Here in Hilo, Hawaii, we stand in solidarity with all in the Ban Killer Drones network. We call for diplomacy with China and oppose a U.S. military build-up in Asia and the Pacific. The US is headed in the wrong direction. What we really need is de-militarization of Hawaii and the world and a shift of military funds to meet human needs and prevent climate disaster.
Solidarity “Day of Atonement”
1. Mourn all victims of violence. 2. Reject violence & war as solutions. 3. Defend civil liberties.
4. Oppose all discrimination, anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-Hawaiian, anti-Black, anti-Asian, etc.
5. Seek peace through peaceful means and work for justice in Hawai`i and around the world.
Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action P.O. Box 489 Ola’a (Kurtistown), Hawaii 96760
Phone (808) 966-7622 Email to receive our posts. For more information www.malu-aina.org
October 8, 2021 Hilo Peace Vigil leaflet – week 1045– Fridays 3:30-5PM downtown Post Office
Jim Albertini Malu ‘Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action P.O. Box 489 Ola’a (Kurtistown) Hawai’i 96760
Phone 808-966-7622 Email Visit us on the web at www.malu-aina.org
New York City
In New York City, the Day of Atonement organized by Ban Killer Drones coincided with a march from the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street to the Times Square military recruiting office.
A DAY OF ATONEMENT – 20 -YEARS OF WAR ON AFGHANISTAN & SUPPOSED “WAR ON TERROR.” CALLING ON FAITH LEADERS & PEOPLE OF CONSCIENCE TO END SILENCE ON US KILLER DRONES, NUCLEAR WEAPONS, AND WAR.
Members of Ithaca’s Catholic Worker and other Ithaca faith communities welcome the Ithaca community at large as we gather at DeWitt /Sean Greenwood Park to observe October 7, 2021, as a Day of Atonement, for the US – 20-year war against Afghanistan and the so-called “War on Terror,
Today, we join communities supporting the work of the new organization Ban Killer Drones across the country, going to different cathedrals and houses of worship, calling on our faith leaders to end their silence about US endless wars and drone strikes. We are part of an action taking this message to Des Moines, IA, Greensburg, PA, Syracuse, NY, NYC, Binghamton, NY, Broom Co., NY, Brattleboro, VT, Portland, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC, and other cities and towns.
Holly Gump reads our statement: Day of Atonement for 20 years of War on Afghanistan
On October 7, 2001, the United States began a 20 year-long war against Afghanistan and initiated the so-called “War on Terror.”
As members of Ithaca faith communities, we are observing October 7, 2021, as a Day of Atonement, a day to repent for the silence of our places of worship concerning the war crimes of our government and military in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere around the world. More than 1 million people were killed in these wars and 9 million refugees were displaced from their homelands. Over 20 years of war the US has spent more than $21 Trillion on militarization, surveillance, and repression.
Emblematic of those war crimes is the August 29th U.S. revenge drone attack in Kabul that killed ten civilians, seven of whom were children.
As U.S. citizens whose tax dollars paid for the MQ-9 Reaper drone that made that attack and paid for the missile it fired, we bear responsibility for this tragedy and seek to prevent its repetition.
The names of the Ahmadi family victims are:
Esmarai, (40), Zeman Ahmadi and his three children, Zameer (20), Faisal (16), Farsad (10). Ahmadi’s cousin Naser, (30). The children of Ahmadi’s brother Romal: Arwin (7), Benyamin (6), and Ayat (2), Malika (3), and Somaya (2).
Today, October 7th, 2021, we gather to call for a REAL end to the 20 years of terror against the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.
In our view this means:
A ban on weaponized drones
An end to “over the horizon” drone strikes anywhere in the world
A rejection of the military build-up and threats of war with China, supporting dialog instead.
A call for our religious leaders to speak out clearly and urgently for peace, including the abolition of nuclear weapons and reduction in the military budget
We urge religious leaders to share these points with their communities of worship and others to share with groups in the Ithaca Community at large.
Todd Saddler shared 21 stones painted with the year and an approximate number of people killed that year by the US military. Approximate because, besides US forces, the US military stopped counting other people killed. We laid the stones by the war memorial to remember the dead and call for an end to war.
AT ST. JOHNS EPISCOPAL CHURCH: WE CALL ON THE FAITH LEADERS TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST US WARS.
“Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to Speak is to Speak. Not to Act is to Act.
Facts on US Military & Wars
A – The US military is the biggest cause of the Climate Crisis, being the # 1 user carbon in the world, emitting more CO2 than many countries, over decades, causing massive climate disruption, desertification, superstorms, sea-level rise, and mass extinction of species.
B – This, in turn, causes massive migration of millions of refugees looking to find shelter, food, jobs, and safety.
C – The US Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq alone caused 9 million refugees and internally displaced people.
“Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself!”
D – US Drone strikes have killed over 6,000 people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere. US Military Generals admit that for every 1 drone victim, 10 more people look at the US as the terrorist. The “Drone Papers” revealed by drone whistleblower, Daniel Hale, shows that 90 % of victims are bystanders, unintended victims, such as the Ahmadi family whose photos we hold here today.
“Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself.”
AT FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: WE CALL ON THE FAITH LEADERS TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST US WARS.
“Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself.”
E – US military gave left-over equipment to US city Police Departments like we saw used on the streets of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, and in Ferguson, to be used on people of color, and at to police at border communities.
Police Departments have many retired military personnel in their ranks repeating tactics used in their training for war, treating US civilians here as enemy combatants.
E – The US military budget uses almost 60 percent of total government expenditures, which steals from the needs of communities, especially from people of color who are left without basic human needs, like jobs, housing, health care.
“Silence in the face of Evil is Evil itself.”
F – Veterans and drone pilots have some of the highest suicide rates in the country and some of the worst medical care, being prescribed pills to mask their deep pain and moral injury.
From Eleanor Levine of Code Pink, San Fransisco:
“Over 20 years, the U.S. has spent more than $21 Trillion on militarization, surveillance, and repression — all in the name of security.
These investments have shown us that the U.S. has the capacity and political will to invest in our biggest priorities.
But the COVID-19 pandemic, the January 6 Capitol insurrection, wildfires raging in the West, super storms in the South & on the East Coast, and even the fall of Afghanistan have shown us that these investments cannot buy us safety. The next 20 years present an opportunity to reconsider where we need to re-invest for a better future.”
AT FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH.
Neil Golder reads from Dan Berrigan’s Statement at Catonsville, MD draft board action during the Vietnam War. (Gender has been changed from “men” to “people,” and from “Christians” to “People of Faith & Conscience.”)
The time is past when good people can remain silent, when obedience can segregate people from public risk, when the poor can die without defense.
We ask our fellow people of faith and conscience to consider in their hearts a question which has tortured us, night and day since the war began.
How many must die before our voices are heard, how many must be tortured, dislocated, starved, maddened? How long must the world’s resources be raped in the service of legalized murder? When, at what point, will you say no to this war? We have chosen to say, with the gift of our liberty, if necessary, our lives: the violence stops here, the death stops here, the suppression of the truth stops here, this war stops here.
We wish also to place in question, by this act, all suppositions about normal times, about longings for an untroubled life in a somnolent church, about a neat timetable of ecclesiastical renewal which in respect to the needs of people, amounts to another form of time serving.
Beth Harris – speaks on the “War on Terror” against Palestinians since 1948, and against Haitians since 1804.
Clare Grady – shares the KBP7 Statement on Nuclear Disarmament from the KingsBayPlowshares7.org website, and about the Catholic Church’s deafening silence concerning nuclear weapons and war.
Thank you all for coming. Please share this message with your communities of faith and conscience.
Thank you members of:
Ithaca Catholic Worker, Ithaca Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Tikkun v’Or Reform Temple, Ithaca Friends Meeting, LIving Hope Fellowship, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ithaca Jewish Voice for Peace, First Baptist Church of Ithaca, St. Catherine of Sienna, Catholic Church, Ithaca, and Immaculate Conception, Catholic Church, Ithaca and CODEPINK.org
The. Reverend Bernard Survil reports on his participation in the October 7th Day of Atonement:
At the invitation of “BanKillerDrones” an anti-militarized drone national organization, Pax Christi Greensburg, Penna. extended an invitation to Greensburg, PA pastors to attend the local commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the beginning of the US invasion of Afghanistan.
Friday, 1 October, I personally delivered the invitation to downtown congregations, First, United Presbyterian, with Pastor Martin taking the invite from my hand. Then to Pastor Scott, the new pastor at First Evangelical Lutheran, Rev Steve at the UCC Church, then the new pastor of Trinity UCC; then to Christ Anglican church office where I left the invite in the door slot since no one answer the bell; then up Main Street to the Rabbi at the City’s Synagogue, who personally took it from me at the door, without inviting me in. Then right next door to Msgr. Raymond Riffle, Rector of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. He was not in. Other invitations were mailed to Churches outside Greensburg as well as to all the priests and deacons of the Diocese of Greensburg. A total of over 130 invitations to the clergy and women religious such as The Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill’s motherhouse nearby.
Then Saturday-Sunday, October 2-3, over 1,000 were distributed to The Catholic Faithful attending Our Lady of Grace parish, St. Paul’s parish, Holy Cross parish and all the Masses at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.
A press release was sent to the Catholic Accent of the Diocese of Greensburg, but not to local secular media. Why? To avoid the debacle of a no-show from the over 1,100 who had been invited. Catholic Accent didn’t show up either.
At 11 am (on Oct. 7), I arrived at the front of The Cathedral with a 2’x3’ color photo of the family that were victims of the U.S. militarized drone attack at the end of last August. Among the victims targeted as terrorists were seven children, one just an infant. There was a constant flow of slow traffic because the city’s middle school is right across the street. Most drivers or passengers turned to look at the photo. Three gave a thumbs up out of the almost 1,000 passing vehicles during the vigil. Early on a black F-150 stopped while the driver took photos. To the best I could see, it was the same fellow who two weeks before had confronted me as he was walking into the cathedral for Mass: “I’ll break every bone in your body if you even get close to me.” I replied: This flyer has a quote from Pope Francis!” He: “Then Damn Pope Francis.”
The only exchange with the some 50 people who walked into the church for the 11:45 am daily Mass was with an elderly fellow who had to use a walker to get from his car to the church door. He came close to me and the photo, then said: “ You’re are badly mistaken about war.” My reply: You can read on this flyer how Pope Paul II tried to persuade President Bush to not escalate with an invasion of Iraq.” The fellow: “Then the Pope was badly mistaken too.”
As the bells announced the beginning of Mass I hobbled on my knees into Church, waving off a woman who came out of her pew to offer help.
The celebrant was a retired priest I know well. Years ago he invited me to preach Pax Christi USA at his parish. Since he should have read the flyer’s reference to The Eucharist of Gospel Nonviolence, (See: www.auscp.org, then on the home page click Gospel nonviolence) I was expecting he would use one of the two optional texts. It didn’t happen. Fortunately he didn’t remind the congregants about how the devotion of praying the Rosary is related to the defeat of Muslims by the Christians at the Battle of Lepanto. Just as well. He used his few minutes for pious platitudes. He said nothing about the 20th anniversary of the start of the US invasion of Afghanistan.
My regards to Nick Mottern of BanKillerDrones.org and all who witnessed against the Afghanistan-Iraqi War. To my fellow member of The Association of US Catholic Priests, Fr. Tim Taugher who was interviewed by local TV, in Binghamton, NY, to the Catholic Workers outside Des Moines’ Cathedral, and Pax Christi Metro New York witnessing at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Up-State New York Anti-drone Coalition for several praying the Rosary of Peace at St Matthew Cathedral, Syracuse, NY and those who did a Peace Witness afterwards. This is the report from this solitary witness, a priest of the Diocese of Greensburg, PA, who will continue to work for peace “while the light lasts,” and who considers this commemoration as a reminder that “war is always a defeat for humanity,” a phrase spoken by Saint Pope John Paul II.
Commenting on Art Laffiin’s witness at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, on October 8th, Jack Gilroy writes:
“This is the place where the war criminals were blessed on Sept 14, 2001.
(At the time, I was under house arrest in Allenwood Prison suspected of being a terrorist since I was the only “political” prisoner in the prison camp.)