Grannies for Peace vigil for an End to Endless War, on September 21, 2018, The International Day of Peace.

On an extremely windy evening 20 Grannies for Peace and their allies held a vigil to call for an end to endless war. We were there on the occasion of The International Day of Peace. A commemorative day that was established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution. As it says on their website: “Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”    

We stood from a little before 5 PM to 6 PM.  Because of the high winds we were unable to unfurl most of our banners. But we did hold the Women Against War banner. Wendy brought two peace flags of her own. Joan and Harry brought their peace flag. Pete also brought some sturdy plastic signs that he attached to poles at the spot where traffic came off the Northway heading to Central Avenue or Wolf Road.

A small committee of Grannies planned this vigil, including Joan, Doreen and Dot, with help from others on the usual tasks involving outreach. Our numbers were smaller than usual because several of us were out of town or had schedule conflicts. Nevertheless we still made a colorful and passionate group to which commuters responded with honks and peace signs.

Our outreach flyer shared our reasons for being there with these words, written by Maud:

Enough!
End Endless War!

War is not the answer. Let’s declare war on war so that the outcome is peace upon peace.
Let’s work to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.

And now for the pictures, taken by Harry Thornhill:

Grannies for Peace, SJC contingent, with Tom Ellis. Photo by John Amidon


There is also a short, 2 minute video taken by John Amidon.

Leaflet from the Grannies for Peace Vigil “Stop Bombing Yemen”, Saturday, May 12, 2018 at the Tulip Fest

Why is the US involved in the deadly Saudi bombing of Yemeni civilians?

The US considers Saudi Arabia an ally. Saudi Arabia considers Iran an enemy. Iran is an ally of the Houthi rebels in Yemen.  So Saudi Arabia is basically fighting a proxy war with Iran in Yemen

US military support of the Saudi attacks and blockades is another in a long list of deadly wars we should not be fighting. Unauthorized, and unconstitutional, this is one war we may be able to convince Congress to stop supporting.  There have been over a million cases of Cholera and diphtheria is raging.

Yemen, an Arab republic in Western Asia that borders on Saudi Arabia, was already one of the world’s poorest countries before the Saudi attacks began three years ago. Although the U.S. provides humanitarian aid to Yemen we’re spending far more to destroy its infrastructure. Causing famine and disease.  According to Save the Children, nearly 400,000 Yemeni children will need to be treated for life threatening acute malnutrition in the next year. Aid organizations are being blocked from this work by the Saudi closure of air, land and sea routes, and by frequent, massive bombing strikes. Right now 130 children die every day in Yemen from extreme hunger and disease–one child every 18 minutes.

Ask your Senators to give this humanitarian crisis their full attention and find ways to end our involvement and move Saudi Arabia toward diplomatic resolution of the murderous war in Yemen.

See senate contact information on reverse side.  Thank you!  www.WomenAgainstWar.org

END US ROLE IN DESTRUCTION OF YEMEN

 In March 2018, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing about our military involvement in the Saudi led coalition that is bombing civilians, hospitals and clinics, schools, infrastructure, and hopes for the future in the impoverished country of Yemen. By late 2017 more than 13,500 lives had been lost.

Now Congress may finally be looking critically at U.S military involvement in the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.  We provide refueling, weapons, and intelligence support to the ruthless war that Saudi Arabia is waging on the people of Yemen.

NOW IS THE TIME for us to tell our US Senators and Congress members:  END US PARTICIPATION IN THE SAUDI ARABIA-LED COALITION that has reduced Yemen to a wasteland of famine, disease, rubble, and despair.

ACT NOW while the revelations of the horror and hopelessness we cause are hanging in the air in the US Senate.

US Senator Charles Schumer Albany (518) 431-4070   Washington, 202-224-6542

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand      Albany (518) 431-0120    Washington, 202-224-4451

Grannies for Peace and Allies International Day of Peace Vigil in Colonie, September 21, 2016 from 5 PM to 6 PM

On Wednesday, September 21, 2016, The United Nations’ International Day of Peace, 27 Grannies and their allies in the peace, justice and interfaith community gathered together on Central Avenue and Wolf Road during the evening drive time to display our message that violence begets violence and that we need negotiated settlements to the 7 wars that the US is currently involved in.

Because of the current politically motivated hate speech towards Muslims we were delighted to be joined by two Muslim women from the Capital District community, Dr.Mussarat Chaudhry and her friend Humera Khan, who brought along a sign of her own reading “Women Call for Peace”.

We also had a relatively large contingent from the Sisters of Saint Joseph, some of whom arrived in a van with  Sister Doreen Glynn.  At the start of the vigil Dennis Karius of the NY State Interfaith Alliance and his friend Tracy joined us briefly.Tracy helped us secure the peace flag and the End Racism Now banner to a utility pole and a tree for hands free viewing.

On Wednesday, September 21, 2016 from 5 PM to 6 PM, Grannies for Peace  gathered (with other members of Women Against War and our allies in the peace and justice community) at Wolf Road & Central Avenue, Colonie to highlight the urgency of waging peace in a world descending into a never ending cycle of violence.

Violence begets violence” was the theme of our vigil, spelled out with various signs and banners highlighting details of such violence and its peaceful alternatives.

We stood together to call for an end to the ever expanding wars that our country is involved in.  We  instead recommended ceasefires and negotiations to end the suffering of the millions of people caught in these conflicts. Because it is partially racism and Islamophobia that allows us to attack largely Muslim countries, kill civilians with drones, and create refugees, we had our banner “End Racism Now” prominently displayed in the background of the vigil, along with a beautiful peace flag contributed by Harry Thornhill.

Some of the signs that we shared included: End Endless War – Diplomacy Not War – War is Not the Answer – Want Peace? No Drone Killings No Arms Sales – & Spread Love Not Hate.

The large banners that we displayed included: Grannies for Peace – War Breaks Grannies’ Hearts – Grannies Embrace Refugees Spread Love Not Hate – End Racism Now – Want Peace? No Drone Killings No Arms Sales – & Wars Make Refugees.

Our vigil successfully shared these messages – and more – with peak drive time commuters on a weekday afternoon, as a living billboard to bring the issue of endless war into focus in the midst of the election season.  Here are some photos taken by Granny photographer of reknown: Mabel Leon:

10  signs on Central Avenue, photo by Mabel Leon 11 Grannies for Peace banner with Anita, Mussarat, Dot, photo by Mabel 12 Grannies for Peace banner with Dot, Mussarat, and Anita, photo by Mabel Leon 13 Wolf Road end of Central Avenue, Huma and Mussarat in foreground, photo by Mabel Leon 14 Doreen arrives with SJC contingent, photo by Mabel Leon 16  Hazel and sisters of SJC, with Harry's peace flag in background, photo by Mabel Leon 17 Grannies for Peace banner and more, photo by Mabel Leon 18 Doreen and Fran towards the end of the vigil, Sue Clark leaving, photo by Mabel Leon 5 CSJ community member, Embrace Refugees, photo by Mabel Leon 6 Bertha with yard sign and drones kill civilians in the background, photo by Mabel 7 Civilian Deaths Break our Hearts, photo by Mabel 1 Pat with Embrace Refugees sign, September 21, 2016, photo by Mabel Leon 3 Elaine with two signs, International Day of Peace 2016, photo by Mabel Leon 4 Mickie with End Endless War and holding half of Wars Make Refugees banner, 9-21-16,  Photo by Mabel Leon 9 Mussarat, Huma and Marcia holding our yard sign banner 19 Joan and Harry with Grannies Embrace Refugees banner, 9-21-16, photo by Mabel Leon Sue Clark, Spread Love Not Hate, 9-21-16, photo by Mabel Leon

Women Against War shared signs, organizing skills and presence at the diverse, spirited Franklin Graham counter-demonstration on August 25, 2016 at Capitol Park West

Counter vigil to Franklin Graham, Thursday, August 25, 2016, photo by Matt Hamilton/TU

Counter vigil to Franklin Graham, Thursday, August 25, 2016, photo by Matt Hamilton/TU

After receiving news that the Reverend Franklin Graham would be coming to Albany for a stop on his “Decision America 2016” fifty state tour for what was billed as a “prayer rally” to be held in Capitol Park West; members of the progressive faith community, the LGBT community and the peace and justice community organized a silent, peaceful counter demonstration to call attention to Graham’s long history of Islamophobia, anti LGBT rhetoric and vision of a Christian-centric, divisive United States.

Women Against War took the lead in organizing a meeting place and in sharing our banners and signs – and especially our presence at the demonstration.

Dot holding one end of the Grannies' banner. Photo by Elaine Klein

Dot holding one end of the Grannies’ banner. Photo by Elaine Klein

In the words of Dot Richards, a Quaker Granny for Peace:

I guess ‘protest’ is a word you could use, (but) we kind of like to think that we are trying to bring a universal message: God is love. … God is mystical — and that’s the word we see in all creeds. So we try to bring down the rhetoric and to show that we are all one.

Washington Avenue end of counter vigil for Franklin Graham, photo by Elaine Klein

Alexandra Lusak on right of photo, holding two signs, Spread Love Not Hate and Defend the Muslim Community. Photo by Elaine Klein

And Reverend Alexandra Lusak, a member of the Women Against War Iran Project, said in an interview with Asa Stackel of WNYT:

When Rev. Graham says there is only one way to god, I think that really builds barriers between people

For many more photos and extensive links to background information please see this article on our Waging Peace blog:

Beautiful, colorful messages of love at Graham prayer rally.  Photo by Lori Van Buren/TU

Beautiful, colorful messages of love at Graham prayer rally. Photo by Lori Van Buren/TU

Flower Power! Grannies’ Tulip Fest Vigil, Saturday, May 7th 1 PM to 2 PM, followed by leafleting,

Wars Make Refugees. Stop the Wars. Wage Peace

On Saturday May 7, 2016 from 1 PM to 2 PM Grannies for Peace and our allies gathered in Washington Park near the Moses Statue, under available trees on a grassy bank.

Bertha and Dot with Grannies for Peace banner, photo by Mabel Leon

Bertha and Dot with Grannies for Peace banner, photo by Mabel Leon

We tried to wear all white, or at least some white, which is one of the international colors of mourning and also reflects a combination of all the wavelengths that combine to meet our eyes as the color of universal unity.

Center of the Tulip Fest vigil, photo by Harry Thornhill

Center of the Tulip Fest vigil, photo by Harry Thornhill

Our vigil was mostly silent, except for interactions with those who came up to us and with a couple of leafleters out in the nearby crowd and on the end of the vigil line.

East end of the vigil after more people have joined, photo by Harry Thornhill

East end of the vigil after more people have joined, photo by Harry Thornhill

Jackie, Janet, Kate and Marcia, photo by Mabel Leon

Jackie, Janet, Kate and Marcia, photo by Mabel Leon

Anita and Maureen, later in the vigil, photo by Mabel Leon

Anita and Maureen, later in the vigil, photo by Mabel Leon

Final banner added to earlier vigil, photo by Harry Thornhill

Final banner added to earlier vigil, photo by Harry Thornhill

At the close of the vigil we formed a circle and sang a few verses of Pat Humphries’ song, “Never Turning Back.” Then Mabel invited people to leaflet in pairs and gave out small, colorful carnations and leaflets to each pair.

Mother and daughters with flowers and smiles, photo by Mabel Leon

Mother and daughters with flowers and smiles, photo by Mabel Leon

This was the text of our leaflet:

Stop the Wars-Wage Peace-Celebrate the Mothers of the World.

In the spirit of Mothers’ day, Grannies for Peace would like to honor mothers all over the world by spreading love not hate. In unity, we call for an end to violence, at home and throughout the world.

We call for diplomacy and negotiations to replace drone and bomb attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

We call for a US and international arms embargo to end the killing of civilians and the destruction of cities and towns in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

We embrace the refugees created by these wars and demand that our government support them and welcome them as they flee from war.

Here are more details from our media release:

On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, Grannies for Peace will gather for an hour long silent vigil during the Tulip Fest in Albany.  We will be holding a banner with the message: “Wars make refugees.”

This year we will dedicate our vigil to connecting the dots between our endless and ever expanding “war on terror” and the creation of millions of refugees, fleeing war and violence.

As part of our message, we will display two more banners: “Want Peace? No Drone Killings. No arms sales” and “Grannies Embrace Refugees: Spread Love Not Hate,” in addition to our Grannies For Peace banner.

 In response to the pervasive political rhetoric, anti Muslim hate speech, and fear mongering, aimed at excluding the refugees from the United States we will also have signs that say: Embrace Refugees,  Spread Love Not Hate, and End Endless War.

Our basic message is:”Tell Congress to stop unauthorized wars and to institute an embargo on arms sales to warring nations.”   To urge others to join in this struggle we will be handing out leaflets after the vigil.

For a full display of photos of the vigil, the natural beauty of the setting and some of the families that we leafleted please see our article on the Waging Peace Blog:

“Flower Power! Photos of Grannies for Peace at the Albany Tulip Fest”.

Report and media statement from Grannies for Peace Valentine’s vigil, Saturday, February 13, 2016, with photos by Jeanne Finley and Michael Farrell.

Here’s a description of the vigil that was written by co-planner Maureen Aumand, who worked with Maud Easter on the Grannies for Peace’s 10th annual Valentine’s Day vigil ably assisted by many other Grannies and joined by allies from the community:

Banner with the theme of our vigil, photo by Jeanne Finley

Banner with the theme of our vigil, photo by Jeanne Finley

Basking in the warmth of camaraderie, the bundled up group, sporting lots of red and good humor, were acknowledged enthusiastically by many driving by. The messages being saluted included: GRANNIES EMBRACE REFUGEES; SPREAD LOVE NOT HATE; WELCOME REFUGEES; SAY NO TO ISLAMOPHOBIA; DEFEND THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY.

Valentines vigil, Wolf Road end of line, photo by Jeanne FinleySpread Love Not Hate, photo by Jeanne FinleyPriscilla and Derek with signs, photo by Jeanne FinleyImmigrants plus love equal neighbors and Embrace Refugees, photo by Jeanne Finley

Reflecting on the chill of the day, Saratoga Peace Council member, Linda LeTendre (who had brought artfully designed bumper stickers to share which read: “I Love My Muslim Neighbors”) reminded us that “sometimes love is uncomfortable.” Valentines vigil, bumper sticker, cameraman, photo by Jeanne Finley

Though Dan Wilcox, a Grannies supporter and member of Veterans for Peace whose flag flew dauntingly above the vigil determined that  “With hand-warmers, warm hearts & the warm response from those driving by we kept the cold of hate at bay.”Veterans for Peace flag at Valentines vigil, photo by Jeanne Finley

This sense of joyful purpose in standing together in the cold and in solidarity with both supportive passersby as well as those who need our embrace globally was also reflected in the comments of Grannies Sister Francine Dempsey and Dot Richards respectively:
“Bright sun in the sky, support from drivers going by — Grannies know love will conquer all”
“Cold hands, warm hearts.  The sun shone on hardy Valentine’s day peace activists and happy honkers alike.”

Dot, Derek and Maud, photo by Michael P. Farrell, Times Union

Dot, Derek and Maud, photo by Michael P. Farrell, Times Union

And finally summed up by Granny Maud Easter
“When Grannies and friends speak from the heart about refugees as human beings who need our support and welcome, I think everyone hears the voice of their own grandmother and listens.”

Maureen Aumand speaks with the media.  Photo by Michael P. Farrell, Times Union

Maureen Aumand speaks with the media. Photo by Michael P. Farrell, Times Union

This was the Statement of purpose that Maureen shared with the media who arrived to document the vigil:

“We are standing here today for a few brief moments in the cold because even as we stand some 60 million refugees are seeking safe shelter for themselves and their families, made homeless by such forces as war and climate change.

We are standing here together because we are convinced that the foundational principles of our nation absolutely remain counter to a public discourse and policy which is founded on fear, hatred and human division: race hatred, religious hatred.

We are standing here because we are convinced that our well being as a nation cannot rest on policies of exclusion developed out of any hate filled discourse and fear mongering.

Ours is a resounding ” YES” spoken in opposition to the politically motivated ” no” of those who would call for walls as they foster a negative approach to our fellow Muslim Americans or those refugees who seek and desperately need asylum from the horrors of war, especially when our actions as a nation have often helped precipitate the conflicts which so many innocents are fleeing.

Some politicians would build momentum on fear and on the false notion that “talking tough/ being hard nose” will keep us safe. The truly hard task is determining and putting into policy and practice all of the ways we can say YES in a determination to preserve our basic principles, freedoms and security.

We are standing here in the cold today with warm hearts determined that most Americans want to live in a country which fosters human global community, sister and brotherhood and determined outreach to those who are suffering, often as a result of wars we have as a nation fostered. Nineteen stalwart Grannies for Peace and friends representing so many in the regional community who stand in heartfelt opposition to Islamophobic and anti – refugee rhetoric, braved sub zero temperatures and a threatening wind chill to stand on the corner of Wolf Road and Central Avenue on Saturday, February 13th for the 10th Annual  Grannies for Peace Valentines’ Day Vigil.”

photo by Michael P. Farrell, Times Union

photo by Michael P. Farrell, Times Union

IMG_5812 (2) Pat holding the centerEditor’s note: One person not pictured in this article is the incredibly active and dedicated peace activist Pat Beetle.The oldest member of our peace and justice community.  Even though she currently has some mobility problems she arrived at the vigil but was persuaded not to stand in the cold.  So instead, Pat drove around and around the vigil honking in support and adding greatly to the spirits of those standing vigil.

Valentine's vigil to spread love, not hate, photo by Michael P. Farrell, Times Union

Valentine’s vigil to spread love, not hate, photo by Michael P. Farrell, Times Union

Women Against War and Grannies for Peace joined Jewish Voice for Peace during their second annual Black Lives Matter Chanukah vigil on December 8th 2015 in Townsend Park.

Grannies end racism now banner at JVP Chanukah vigil, photo by Wendy Dwyer

Grannies end racism now banner at JVP Chanukah vigil, photo by Wendy Dwyer

Thanks to this inspiring photo taken by Wendy Dwyer we have the basis for an article about how Jewish Voice for Peace, Albany Chapter held their second annual anti-racism Chanukah vigil and how Women Against War joined them with their two banners from the Tulip Festival and other signs and messages.  This vigil was described by Jewish Voice for Peace in this way:

Albany Jewish Voice for Peace is hosting our 2nd Annual Black Lives Matter Hanukkah vigil on Tuesday, December 8th, 5 – 6:30 pm, at Townsend Park, Albany (The triangle park at Henry Johnson Blvd., between Washington Avenue and Western Avenue).

We did not expect the need to raise the call that Black Lives Matter would have disappeared in the past year, but recent events have made clear that the necessity for action and solidarity has increased. As an organization based in the multi-racial and multi-ethnic Jewish community, and dedicated to human rights for all, we believe we have a special obligation and role to play in speaking out in support of the Black community and in opposition to all of the continuing stark manifestations of racism and white supremacy.

Come join us in this vigil for peace and justice as we recall the historical struggles of Jews and stand in solidarity with all of our sisters and brothers.

Through grassroots organizing, education, advocacy, and media, Jewish Voice for Peace works to achieve a lasting peace that recognizes the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination.

Jewish Voice for Peace is the only national Jewish organization that provides a voice for Jews and allies who believe that peace in the Middle East will be achieved through justice and full equality for both Palestinians and Israelis. With offices in New York and California, 100,000 online activists, chapters across the country and an Advisory Board comprised of numerous prominent Jewish thinkers and artists, JVP supports nonviolent efforts here and in Israel-Palestine to end Israel’s Occupation, expand human and civil rights, and implement a US policy based on international law and democracy.

Here are some other photos taken by JVP members, The first two were taken by Ariela Perez-Wallach  and the bottom one was taken by Dennis Wi​llard. Black lives Matter image from Chanukah vigil, December 8, 2015 JVP vigil in Townsend Park, third night of Chanukah, 2015 JVP vigil with Black Lives Matter banner from Women Against War, December 8, 2015This is just one more instance of several community groups sharing their resources and passions during a local vigil.  May we have many more as our different groups come together to combat, racism, militarism and fear mongering.

Grannies for Peace and community vigil to End Endless War, held on September 21, 2015, The International Day of Peace.

The purpose and the spirit of our vigil to End Endless War was best summarized in our media release and in the presence and determination of about 30 peace and justice activists from the Capital District.  Here’s the media release:

Grannies for Peace will lead a vigil to End Endless War on Monday, September 21, 2015,

The International Day of Peacepeaceday_banner

WHO: Grannies for Peace, Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Project, Women Against War,  Many other local peace and justice groups.

WHEN:  Monday, September 21, 2015, from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM

WHERE:  Corner of Central Avenue and Wolf Road, Colonie NY

WHAT: Our large banner will say: “WANT PEACE? NO DRONE KILLINGS. NO ARMS SALES.”

Banner with our Yard Sign message, with Bertha, Mabel and Fran.  Photo by Mark Klein.

Banner with our Yard Sign message, with Bertha, Mabel and Fran. Photo by Mark Klein.

We will have signs saying  End Endless War and many other signs and banners on the themes of drone killings, racism, militarism, greed, war and climate change, and the need for diplomacy.  People are also invited to bring their own signs. We will vigil rain or shine and share our messages with the drive time commuters during this international day of peace.

WHY:  In the words of one of our three Grannies for Peace co-coordinators, Dot Richards

The world is stunned by the surge of migrants into Europe – families on the run, the silent scourge of war!  Humans by the hundreds of thousands desperately walking, running, swimming and pleading for asylum.  Most of the deaths and misery of war are perpetrated against civilians.  We must wake up to the fact that war is not the answer.  War is immoral, foolish and futile. It must be the last resort always. When will we ever learn? 

Dot with Grannies for Peace banner, photo by Mabel Leon

Dot with Grannies for Peace banner, photo by Mabel Leon

Sister Doreen Glynn shared a quote from Pope Francis, who will be visiting the United States at the time of our vigil:

We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried. … But our efforts have been in vain. Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: ‘Never again war!’; ‘With war everything is lost.’

Invocation for Peace, held with Presidents Shimon Peres of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine, Vatican Gardens, June 9, 2014

Doreen with one of the End Endless War signs that she created, photo by Mabel Leon

Doreen with one of the End Endless War signs that she created, photo by Mabel Leon

And Granny, Joan Thornhill, on vacation and enjoying time with her grandchildren and the natural beauty of the Pacific Coast, said:

Even though we have this time for serenity and we can afford to even think about Peace, our hearts are heavy with the thoughts of how senseless and meaningless WAR is!  War is filled with fear and destruction–Peace is filled with courage and compassion.  I have a t-shirt that says, ‘Peace also takes courage’  Pope Francis’ has certainly stepped up to the plate .  We hope he gets even more courageous–maybe he could join us on the 21st on his way to Philly!

Joan and Pete holding the Drones Kill Civilians banner, photo by Mabel Leon

Joan and Pete holding the Drones Kill Civilians banner, photo by Mabel Leon

Dreams of a future without war:  In the words of Patti Smith’s song, People Have the Power:

 “To dream, to rule, to wrest the power from fools […] ”

Bertha, Mickie, Mari and yin/yang, dove/drone sign designed by Kim.  Photo by Mabel Leon

Bertha, Mickie, Mari, Elaine and yin/yang, dove/drone sign designed by Kim. Photo by Mabel Leon

End Racism Now banner as part of the End Endless War message, photo by Mabel Leon

End Racism Now banner as part of the End Endless War message, photo by Mabel Leon

Marcia with one of our War Causes Climate Change signs.  Photo by Mabel Leon

Marcia with one of our War Causes Climate Change signs. Photo by Mabel Leon

Sue Clark, stylin' a beret. Photo by Mabel Leon

Sue Clark, stylin’ a beret.Photo by Mabel Leon

Pat Beetle with sign, photo by Mabel Leon

Pat Beetle with sign, photo by Mabel Leon

Central Avenue end of the vigil. Fran in the foreground. Photo by Mabel Leon

Central Avenue end of the vigil. Fran in the foreground. Photo by Mabel Leon

Barb, Sue Clark, Terri, Sue Dubois and great signs. Photo by Mabel Leon

Barb, Sue Clark, Terri, Sue Dubois and great signs. Photo by Mabel Leon

Wolf Road end of the vigil with Harry, Maureen, Terri, Pete.  Photo by Mabel Leon.

Wolf Road end of the vigil with Harry, Maureen, Terri, Pete. Photo by Mabel Leon.

This is part of the story.  For more photos and a view of the context in which this vigil was taking place you can see our blog article on Waging Peace , which also describes the young Afghan Peace Volunteers #Enough! campaign.

 

Women Against War and our part in the August 26, 2015 Rally to change Chuck Schumer’s mind about the Iran agreement. Followed by a nonviolent sit in by the “Fantastic Five.”

On Wednesday, August 26th members of Women Against War and a coalition of many other peace and justice groups, participated in a vigil and rally at the Leo O’ Brien Federal Building from noon to 1 PM which included a picket line with signs and banners, a rally with speakers and music and a walk up to Columbia Street where Representative Paul Tonko’s of ice is located, and where his new Chief of Staff, Ryan Horstmyer came out to greet us and hear our messages of thanks for his announcement of support for the Iran nuclear agreement.

I’m going to keep the text to a minimum since this has already been described in an article on our blog waging peace.

What I will share here is some of Mabel Leon’s photos of the three parts of the event and then a few photos of the sit-in that followed the coalition event.

First the picket line at the start of the rally:
IMG_0485Vigil line on Pearl Street in front of the Federal Building, photo by Mabel Leon
IMG_0490 Grannies for Peace and Janet and Kate on the vigil line, photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0493 More of the vigil line, Kate holding the Iran Deal sign, photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0497 vigil line before the rally at the Leo O' Brien Federal Building , photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0502 on the vigil line, photo Mabel Leon IMG_0507Fred on the vigil line, photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0510 Paul and Katja, Thanking Paul Tonko and defending diplomacy, photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0512David Easter with Kims Hands off Iran sign, photo by Mabel IMG_0515 (2) Three large Iran banners on the vigil line, photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0516 (2) Clinton Avenue corner of the vigil, photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0543 (2)Jackie Doneghan with one of her beautifil signs, photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0548 (2) Naomi with sign at the vigil, photo by Mable Leon More signs on the picket line, photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0592 Terri, Blue and Sue leading songs at the rally, photo by Mabel IMG_0594More signs during the rally at the Federal Building, photo by Mabel
The second part of the event was a rally held on the grassy area beside the Federal Building. There were brief, informative speakers, music of the sing along variety by Terri Roben, and a ceremony presenting signed petitions in support of the Iran nuclear agreement, with signatures of 27,500 New Yorkers.

Alice Brody speaking for Jewish Voice for Peace

Alice Brody speaking for Jewish Voice for Peace

IMG_0617 Dan Wilcox speaking for Veterans for Peace, photo by mabel leon

Dan Wilcox, speaking for Veterans for Peace

IMG_0618 (2)Marcia Hopple speaking for Women Against War, photo by Mabel

Marcia Hopple, speaking for the Iran Project of Women Against War

IMG_0637 Joe Lombardo speaking for Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, photo by Mabel

Joe Lombardo, speaking for Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace

IMG_0652 (2) Sue Dubois speaking for Solidarity Committee, photo by Mabel Leon

Sue Dubois, speaking for The Solidarity Committee

IMG_0671Tom Ellis speaking for Palestinian Rights Committee, photo by Mabel

Tom Ellis, speaking for the Palestinian Rights Committee

IMG_0676 We are Iranians, Sue Weber handing petitions to Gia Recco, photo by Mabel

Susan Weber presenting MoveOn petitions to Gia Recco.

IMG_0573 (2) At the back of the rally, Janet, Anita and Pat, photo by Mabel Leon IMG_0673In the audience at the rally, Anita on left, photo by Mabel IMG_0684 Gia Recco of Sen. Gillibrands office receiving petitions whit Steve Mann in the background

Then the rally concluded with a walk up to Representative Paul Tonko’s office on Columbia Street where his new Chief of Staff, Ryan Horstmyer greeted us and listened to our appreciation for Paul’s decision to approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Agreement. [JCPOA]

Sue Weber talking with Ryan Horstmyer, Paul Tonko's chief of staff, from video by Joe Seeman

Sue Weber talking with Ryan Horstmyer, Paul Tonko’s chief of staff, from video by Joe Seeman

After the coalition rally ended then my favorite part of the afternoon began.  It was a sit-in in the Lobby of the Federal Building by the “Fantastic Five” and their supporters.  I’ll let Marcia Hopple tell the story about how it came about and only add that it was a complex action to plan and to support but turned out quite well.

[Sue Clark, one of the Grannies for Peace], came to the Iran project meeting on 8/17 to announce that she intended to sit in at the Federal Building to urge Senator Schumer to change his mind and vote for the Iran deal . [ Before the end of our meeting] four other women… decided to join her in a civil resistance action.  Many more of us sat in with them and supported them,  but left before being arrested.  I was one of the support people.

The "Fantastic Five" Mabel, Kate, Sue, Fran and Pat, photo by Wendy Dwyer

The “Fantastic Five” Mabel, Kate, Sue, Fran and Pat, photo by Wendy Dwyer

Four of the five civil resisters, Kate, sue, Fran and Pat, photo by Mabel Leon

Four of the five civil resisters, Kate, sue, Fran and Pat, photo by Mabel Leon

Early in the sit-in, Janet, Greg, Mickie, Pat, Sue, Kate and Fran, photo by Mabel Leon

Early in the sit-in, Janet, Greg, Mickie, Pat, Sue, Kate and Fran, photo by Mabel Leon

While we were sitting in at the Federal Building (from 1:45 PM to a little while after the building closed at 5:30 PM) we had a really good public conversation with Steve Mann in the lobby. Sue was able to read him our letter to Chuck Schumer

Then Wendy read her letter that explained how frustrated we were that we couldn’t reach his local  office or his Washington DC office by phone to leave messages or talk to someone; and that we couldn’t arrange meetings in a reasonable time frame.

Sue Clark reading our letter to Steve Mann, Senator Schumer's Deputy State Director, photo by Wendy Dwyer

Sue Clark reading our letter to Steve Mann, Senator Schumer’s Deputy State Director, photo by Wendy Dwyer

We had members of several other peace and justice groups who stopped by for much/ or a little of the sit-in. A couple of people stood outside with signs as well.  Some of the people who joined us were members of Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, the Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Project of WAW, Peace Action, The Friend’s meeting, Schenectady Neighbors for Peace and Veterans for Peace.  The size of the group varied during the 4 plus hours From 16 to 7, with five people arrested

Senator Schumer’s staff were kind to us and offered us water, which Jennifer and Esther brought down later in the sit-in.Two women from the Building manager’s office stopped by to let us know that we would need a permit for any action inside the Federal Building or on the plaza outside – if we planned future actions.

An Albany police Sergeant stopped by to convince us to leave by closing time, but Sue in particular wanted to make a point by getting arrested.  He was really interested in what we had to say and stayed for a long time, Having been deployed in the military several times;  he didn’t agree that the JCPOA was a safe deal but we gave him some points to consider.  Anyhow, he left having decided that the APD would not arrest us and if any arrests or tickets were to be issued it would be the job of the Federal security officers.

However at closing time Federal Security tried to get the fantastic five to leave voluntarily and they refused.  So they were issued $80 appearance tickets and released.

Arrests at the Federal Building, photo by Wendy Dwyer

Arrests at the Federal Building, photo by Wendy Dwyer

Sue being wheeled out of the building by Homeland Security, photo by Marcia Hopple

Sue being wheeled out of the building by Homeland Security, photo by Marcia Hopple

In a show of solidarity the Upper Hudson Peace Action chapter decided to pay their fines if they decide to pay rather than contest them.  They have 30 days to decide.  And we don’t know yet what they will do.

More about the arrest/booking process from Marcia again:

The arrest scenario was that we had been lectured during our four hour sit in by Property Management staff, then an Albany city police sergeant, and finally a Homeland Security agent, all well before closing time, to think about what we were doing, realize we weren’t influencing the Senator, be realistic about media coverage since they would not allow photographers in, and leave on our own.  The woman who first proposed the sit in replied, “I will not leave willingly.”  The other four agreed with her.  Just after the building closing time, the Property Management staff and Homeland Security officer returned to give them one last chance to walk out, and then processed them.

Here’s another description from Mabel:

[A woman officer from Homeland Security], tried every way possible to talk us into walking out voluntarily and she told us what we were doing made no sense and it was not going to affect anything. Sue answered her in a strong, steady voice with compassion. She was incredibly articulate. Finally, they locked the doors at about 5:50 and brought a wheel chair for Sue and booked her first in a little office. We were each given a ticket and fine for $80.00. The press never came, but it was a good day and Sue fought the good fight!!

Pat and Fran leaving the Federal Building after the arrests, photo by Wendy Dwyer.

Pat and Fran leaving the Federal Building after the arrests. Fran holding the ticket for ” failure to comply.” photo by Wendy Dwyer.

It was a great sit-in.  We had hours to be in each others’ company and to inspire each other.  Schumer’s staff [Jennifer Wilson and Esther Hering] actually brought us cups of water, the police sergeant was humorous and interesting, the building security were very relaxed, and almost all of us were there to support Sue who was very passionate about taking her commitment to the peace deal to another level.