Report on Women Against War April 8, 2022 vigil to End War in Ukraine (Women in Black) on the steps of the NY State Legislative Building

On the morning of Friday, April 8, 2022 at 10: 40 am, a group of women dressed in black began to gather and assemble signs and banners for a vigil to contribute our hopes and healing energy to ending the brutal war that had been waging in Ukraine for the past 6 weeks.  This vigil came together through the work of a committee of members of Women Against War who met virtually to plan the ceremony and the visual and written messages that we wished to send out into the world.  We knew that we didn’t just want to stand but also to call attention to the urgent need for a cease fire to stop the deaths and destruction and lay a groundwork for a negotiated peace.

This was our invitation to like minded, anti-war women in the community.  In it you can see a photo of the original 2002 demonstration, on the much grander inside staircase of the Legislative Office Building.
One of the most dramatic messages of peaceful anti-war hopes and dreams was the half hour of silent vigil that expressed our unity of spirit with the women of Ukraine and peace loving, pro-diplomacy people all over the world. But before the silent ceremony we began with our policy statement suggesting ways to reach that lifesaving ceasefire as soon as possible.

Maureen Aumand reading our collectively written policy statement. Photo by Mabel Leon

Center of the vigil, with Maureen reading our statement and her preamble, photo by Mabel Leon

There were many beautiful, wise, accomplished and healing women at our vigil but one that I’d like to highlight is Pat Beetle; our eldest community and world peacemaker, a member of Albany Friends Meeting, and an honored and valued member of Women Against War and several other peace and justice groups. She is 97 years old and still very active and involved.

Women in black with signs and banners and Pat Beetle seated and holding a beautiful peace plaque. Photo by Mabel Leon

Pat Beetle our eldest Woman Against War holding the ground with the Women Against War banner behind her. Photo by Mabel Leon

Mabel Leon, our semi-official action photographer took photos from many perspectives during the vigil. Here are some that highlight different aspects of our vigil, our signs and messages, and the visual context of the vigil on this amazingly clear morning at the end of a week of rain.

Support and Protect all our Children banner, April 8, 2022, Photo by Mabel Leon

Side view from later in the vigil, April 8, 2022, Photo by Mabel Leon

Early in the vigil as women assemble on the outside steps of the Albany Legislative Building. Photo by Mabel Leon

Wars make refugees and more signs about missiles April 8, 2022, photo by Mabel Leon

Right side of the vigil during the opening remarks April 8, 2022, photo by Mabel Leon

View from top left with the NY State Capitol building and other downtown Albany NY buildings around our vigil. Photo by Mabel Leon

Our vigil closed with a beautiful A Capella version of a Malvina Reynolds song sung by Terri Roben. Since we didn’t record Terri’s version here’s a short video of Malvina singing it.

And here’s Terri sharing it with us:

Terri Roben singing and a panoramic view at the close of the vigil

Terri Roben singing our closing song “From Way Up Here”, Written by Malvina Reynolds. photo by Mabel Leon

And here are two photos of the vigil without signs and banners, to match our original event in 2002.

The silent part of the vigil without signs and banners, April 8, 2022, Photo by Mabel Leon

Second photo without signs and banners to match our original Women in Black vigil in 2002.

Finally a couple of other media related events that publicized our vigil in advance and on that day. Maureen’s 9:51 minute interview with Mark Dunlea on the Hudson Mohawk Magazine the Wednesday before the vigil.

A photo on the front page of the Saturday, April 9th Daily Gazette:

Daily Gazette April 9th. Front Page photo of part of our vigil on April 8th. Photo Credit-Peter R. Barber/Daily Gazette

And two photos taken by Darrell Camp, from his Twitter page:

Photo at the very beginning of our vigil at 11:04 PM as people were holding signs and banners. Photo by Darrell Camp, reporter for NY Out Now/PBS

Some of our male allies at the foot of the LOB stairs, including Dan Wilcox, poet and Veteran for Peace with Mabel Leon taking photos Photo by Darrell Camp, NY Out Now

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!


 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

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