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.


Working in coalition to end war, stop drone killings and jump start nuclear disarmament.

On Friday, August 7th in the midst of several events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including a film series offered by Peace Action and Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace and a wonderful Schenectady Peace Pole Walk [See the blog article on Waging Peace]

Gathering at the peace pole, photo by Mabel Leon

Gathering at the peace pole, photo by Mabel Leon

Many of the materials from earlier Grannies for Peace and Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Project were incorporated into that week’s Schenectady Neighbors for Peace vigil by Mabel Leon and others. Mabel carries a vigil in her trunk to the weekly Friday demonstrations that take place in Schenectady from Noon to 1 PM.

Here are a few photos from their August 7th vigil, taken by Mabel Leon:
Schenectady Peace vigil on Friday, August 7 at noon, photo by Mabel Leon

vigil2 Martin and Terri at Friday Peace Vigil, August 7, 2015, photo by Mabel Leon

Schenectady Peace vigil with nuclear theme and other related topics, Friday August 7, 2015 photo by Mabel Leon

Schenectady Peace vigil with nuclear theme and other related topics, Friday August 7, 2015 photo by Mabel Leon

Grannies for Peace and other community members join the Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace at an anti-racism vigil on Monday, June 22nd at the 4 Corners

On Monday, June 22, 2015 Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace added the theme of Black Lives Matter and ending racially motivated violence to their weekly Monday vigil at the 4 Corners in Delmar.  Since Grannies for Peace had our large and wonderful banners and our “Racism Breaks Grannies’ Hearts” signs  from the Tulip Festival vigil we decided to join them in this vigil timed to honor the 9 members of the Emanuel Mother Church slain by a racist gunman in Charleston, South Carolina.

Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace has a regular anti-war, pro justice rally every Monday evening from 5 PM to 6 PM and people are always welcome to join them for a few minutes or for the whole hour.

Grannies two banners at June 22 vigil at Delaware Avenue and Kenwood, photo by Mabel LeonBecause people arrived and left at different times it was difficult to estimate the number of participants but from the photos I counted at least 25 people from Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, Grannies for Peace, MoveOn, and others from the Capital District peace and justice community.

BNP vigil corner of Delaware Avenue, photo by Mabel LeonMoveOn and Grannies with a visiting skateboarder.  Photo by Mabel Leon MoveOn people and Grannies on Delaware Avenue, photo by Mabel LeonTo avoid the brightly shining sun we occupied three of the 4 corners of Delaware and Kenwood Avenues with signs, banners and our passion for change. The response from drivers and passengers traveling home during drive time was very positive.BNP group plus Pat later in the vigil, June 22nd. Photo by Mabel LeonAll photos except the one with Mabel in it were taken by Mabel Leon, our activist photographer. Mabel  also brought the Black Lives Matter banner and some of the neck signs made by Kim Kennedy.  Many of the BNP members and other community members had signs of their own.

The rest of this article will consist of more photos of the vigil. Click on an individual photo to enlarge it.

Second early BNP group, Black Lives MatterKenwood Avenue, BNP vigil Black Lives Matter, photo by Mabel LeonHarry, Mabel, Bertha and Candaice with Black Lives Matter banner.  Photo by Joe LombardoEnd Racism Now, Delaware Avenue, photo by Mabel LeonCandaice with one of the Grannies neck signs.  Photo by Mabel LeonBNP vigil against racism, Monday June 22, 4 Corners, Delmar.  Photo by Mabel LeonBlack Lives Matter with skateboarding young man.  Photo by Mabel Leon


Report on the Grannies for Peace “Racism Breaks Grannies’ Hearts vigil at the Tulip Fest, 5/8/15 from 1 PM to 2 PM, followed by leafleting.

Here’s a brief update about our exciting and very successful Grannies for Peace vigil and leafleting at the Tulip Festival on Saturday, May 8th during the Mother’s Day weekend. The photos are from Mabel Leon and Dinah Farrington.
At the end of the article is a link to a longer and more detailed blog article with 20 of Mabel’s photos and more about the leafleting as well.

Both banners, early vigil, photo by Mabel Leon

End Racism Now, photo by Dinah Farrington.

End Racism Now, photo by Dinah Farrington.

The vigil and leafleting were received with enthusiasm above and beyond any experience that we’ve ever had at our annual Tulip Festival vigils.  It was exhilarating and extended not only to the hour long silent vigil itself, but to Grannies walking to and from the vigil site before and after the formal vigil began at 1 PM.  If we were wearing our “Racism Breaks Grannies’ Hearts” neck signs young adults came up to us by the tens and asked to take a picture with us.

Black Lives Natter, photo by Dinah Farrington.

Black Lives Matter, photo by Dinah Farrington.

While we were standing, many people came up to us and walked along the whole vigil semi-circle shaking hands, high-fiving each of us, and hugging us.  People stopped to thank us constantly.  More young adults (Millennials) and slightly older parents were the most responsive, which gives us great hope for the future.   There were also people of all races, ethnicities and ages who stopped by.  People jumped into the vigil to be photographed and others took selfies in front of us.

Second version of families matter, I matter, say it believe it, photo by Mabel Leon

The half hour of leafleting was equally exciting.  Here’s Mabel’s description:

The leafleting was an amazing experience-people wanted the flyers and the stickers and wanted their photos taken-it was an exhilarating experience. They expressed gratitude for what we were doing… In fact when we walked back to the car, young people on their stoops thanked us and wanted flyers and stickers. Amazing. One woman stopped us on the street and had her young child give us hugs. I have never had an experience quite like this.

Here’s a link to our very simple but direct leaflet about why we were there at the Tulip Festival: Black Lives Matter leaflet 2015 edited for website.

Beautiful young women with leaflets, photo by Mabel Leon

group with leaflets and stickers, photo by Mabel LeonHere again is the link to our Waging Peace blog article, titled “Making Waves ~~~ Grannies’ anti racism message resonates in the Park



Spotlight News also reported on this event: WAW in the News

Grannies for Peace at the April 22, 2015 Earth Day Celebration in West Capitol Park, Albany

Displaying our signs linking the Pentagon, war and military actions and climate destruction, Grannies for Peace and other members of Women Against War joined environmental allies for an hour stand near Capitol Park West.

Protect Mother Earth from Military Climate Change, photo by Mabel Leon

Protect Mother Earth from Military Climate Change, photo by Mabel Leon

This was the brief description of the all day Earth Day celebration held on Wednesday, April 22nd in Albany:

Wednesday, April 22, 11 am. – 8 pm. Earth Day 2015, West Capitol Park, Albany.  Energize Democracy Climate Justice Rally, Speakers- Music -Action. Organized by Frack Free Nation which would like you to sign up  that you’ll be there:

Here was the invitation to our event: which lasted formally for just one hour but some of us attended more of the Earth Day celebration (see more photos at Frack Free Nation)

Wednesday, April 22,  Noon – 1:00 pm, West Capitol Park, Albany. Join Women Against War & Grannies for Peace at the Earth Day 2015 Rally. We’ll be demonstrating with signs and banners protesting the US military: the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels   Maureen Aumand will be among the speakers.

Remarks by Maureen Aumand at Earth Day Events on April 22

Pentagon, World's largest user of fossil fuel, Photo by Mabel Leon

Pentagon, World’s largest user of fossil fuel, Photo by Mabel Leon

Dorren, Protect Mother Earth, photo by Mabel Leon

Joan and Doreen, Protect Mother Earth, photo by Mabel Leon


pat Beetle seated with one of Kim's theme signs, photo by Mabel Leon

Pat Beetle seated with one of Kim’s theme signs, photo by Mabel Leon

For many more of Mabel’s photos see our blog article on the Times Union website:

Today (4/28/15) I received a report from Joy First of NCNR about their Earth Day Pentagon action. It’s quite moving and I’ll link to it here.Letter on April 27 about NCNR actions
She also provided a link to some pictures of the arrests at the Pentagon.

Local demonstration to end the wars, Saturday March 21st from 1 PM to 2 PM, photos by Mabel Leon. With a Facebook link to other excellent photos by Jeanne Finley and Jon Flanders


This gallery contains 17 photos.

Women Against War  co-sponsored a local demonstration to support the national demonstrations, events and meetings in Washington DC.Those events took place from March 18th through March 21st. With the large demonstration held on March 21st. On March 21st, peace activists … Continue reading

Saturday, December 6th vigil and mall stroll at Colonie Shopping Center, Grannies Say No to War Toys and Violent Video Games


This gallery contains 23 photos.

  As the first public event in a conversation about some of the roots of violence in our society, namely War Toys and Violent Videos, the Grannies For Peace held a vigil and mall stroll at Colonie Shopping Center during … Continue reading

Grannies for Peace Joined Saratoga Peace Alliance for the third roving anti-drone vigil,on Saturday, October 11th at Noon. Photos by Mabel Leon

IMG_0791 (2) Pat and Kim in the foreground with the vigil in full swing,

On Saturday morning, October 11th,  at about 11:40 am a small group of intrepid Grannies for Peace met in the Woodlawn Avenue municipal parking garage in Saratoga Springs to assemble Nick Mottern’s  impressive 1/5 scale reaper drone replica in preparation for the Saratoga Peace Alliance vigil.  We also had many dramatic photos, two banners (one the Grannies for Peace banner) and other posters brought by Mabel, who was also our photographer.IMG_0784 (3)Saratoga Peace Alliance vigilers with the drone replica and post office in the background. IMG_0782 Granny Joan with some of the SPA vigilers, in Saratoga Springs IMG_0803 (2) Kim and Pat at Long Alley side of the vigil IMG_0796 (2)Two Saratoga friends of Pats joined the vigil holding drone victim photos IMG_0799 Bertha holding up her end of the Grannies for Peace banner in Saratoga Springs IMG_0789 Jim and drone replica in Saratoga, Saturday, October 11, 2014

This time we encountered some difficulty stabilizing the wallboard lifter base that holds the replica – in spite of the best efforts of Kim and Joan, our “mechanical thinkers”  – with the encouragement and physical support of Mabel, Bertha, Pat and Mickie.

So we went with plan B.  We carried the partially assembled replica and the parts for the wheels and lifter, along with the wings, fins, bombs and missiles over to the main Post Office on Broadway..  There some of us worked to get the replica set up while others put up banners and photos to began the vigil.

Towards the end of our assembling process, we were joined by the members of the Saratoga Peace Alliance.  A cheerful and helpful group who welcomed us and began to assist in the fine adjustments to the replica.IMG_0808 (2) Kim and Mickie near the replica with photo of 16 year old Abdul Rahman al Awlaki

They had arrived from Their “Being Peace” discussion group, and came fueled by coffee and energized by a long discussion that evidently also involved politics as well as peace!IMG_0795 Replica side of the vigil with Jeff H. and Beau the dog and lively conversations

Weather-wise it was a very fine afternoon. There was a lot of appreciation by each group for the other. And some of us saw old friends that we hadn’t seen for quite some time.  We also gave out brochures for the upcoming “Ground the Drones” drone quilt exhibits that will be opening in the Capital District on Monday, October 20th with a media conference at the Legislative office Building in Albany.  More details  about this on our home page.

We had some good interactions with pedestrians and one passenger in a passing car applauded us, which was kind of amusing but also nice.

The vigil ended with a closing circle where each person stood in silence for a couple of minutes and then we went around and introduced ourselves.


Grannies for Peace Anti Weaponized Drone vigil held at West Capitol Park, from Noon to 1 PM, Wednesday, September 17, 2014.


IMG_9456 large tableau of vigil at West Capitol Park, September 17, 2014

The early part of our vigil with the Alfred E. Smith building in the background

This was the Grannies major anti-drone vigil of the fall season.  It was fairly elaborate because we had a large variety of props and banners.  Outstanding among these were Mabel’s enlarged photos of drone victims, Kim’s beautiful yin/yang, dove/drone poster, origami drone mobiles put together by Kim and Joan, and a variety of banners and other signs.IMG_9469 Hazel with Drones Kill Civilians signOne of the most striking props was the 1/5 scale MQ-9 Reaper drone replica designed by Nick Mottern.  His replicas are slowly increasing in numbers, as he receives funds and takes time to build them, and are traveling to protests all across the US where they capture the attention of passersby and help educate them to the physical effects of having such weaponized drones flying overhead.IMG_9475 Kim, Joan and Mickie, before the official vigil. To be able to include the replica in our vigil, Mabel and Mickie needed to meet Nick halfway in Newburgh the day before the vigil to get the parts, and receive instructions on assembly.  Then we needed an assembly team with patience and Phillips screwdrivers.  We met early to put the parts together. Our intrepid team consisted of Kim Kennedy, Pete Looker, Joan and Harry Thornhill, Bertha Kriegler and Mabel and Mickie. IMG_9428 Our assembly committee of Kim, Harry, Joan, Peter, Bertha, Mickie and MabelIMG_9482Kim and drone replica, Sept 17, 2014

As soon as we were done assembling the replica we began our vigil about 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. At the Noon hour we had about a dozen vigilers. Many of our signs were still propped up against steps and monuments in the park.IMG_9441 (2) pre noon gathering with photos and posters on stepsBy the halfway point of the vigil we had grown to 21 vigilers and were able to face both the park where the State workers were eating lunch, and the traffic and passersby on Swan Street.IMG_9460 (2) Later vigil with Sue Clark, Elaine, her daughter and others

As soon as Doreen arrived with our leaflets we began leafleting, This resulted in our holding some interesting conversations with passersby, and with people eating lunch in the park where we also leafleted.   IMG_9486 (2) Dot leafleting and in conversation

We were able to document much of the vigil with Mabel’s photos.  We also added one photo of Mari and Mabel, representing three generations of activism.  It’s becoming an annual ritual to have them take photos together.This one photo was the exception to Mabel’s photos.  Being taken by another vigiler and posted on Mari’s Facebook page.10710648_10101361949464312_4533719309039207946_n Mari Matsuo with anti drone signOne disappointing, but not unexpected aspect of the vigil was the lack of media coverage, in spite of careful press releases and phone calls to the TV stations on the morning of the vigil.  We did have a photographer from the Times Union who took several photos, and one of our leaflets, but no photos appeared in the newspaper.IMG_9474 (2) Leafleting while vigiling

In spite of the lack of media to amplify the message, the person to person communication was excellent.  We were able to give out more than 150 leaflets about how weaponized drones kill people.

Dot described one of her conversations with a passerby this way:

“The gentleman I was speaking with said that bombing and killing as a way of solving the Middle Eastern dilemma is futile and counterproductive.”IMG_9461 (2) Grannies for Peace banner Sept. 17, 2014

Those of us leafleting and holding banners had a wide range of responses from supportive, to curious, to unconvinced, but everyone thought about the issue of killing innocent people with drones.IMG_9464Sue Clark, leafletingWe hope that these photos communicate the spirit of the event, which we all enjoyed on a beautiful, sunny day.  Thanks to everyone who took part and to those who helped to prepare for the vigil and were there in spirit.