I came to fast and walk and build community with Witness Against Torture because I wanted to be in a place where we could remind each other of our humanity. My hope was answered on many levels. This was my first time doing an extended fast, and I got to experience in a new way what my body is capable of. I felt how vulnerable and dependent I am, and yet how much more resilient I am than I could have imagined. Torture and indefinite detention are meant to break people, to strip them of their dignity as human beings. Torture is a process of mutilating another person’s soul, something that neither the victim nor the perpetrator fully recovers from.
Continue reading Reflections of a First-Time Faster
Video: Beth Brockman the morning of day 8.
Today was a the day of perseverance, preparation and gathering. The round-the-clock vigil with the Guantánamo cell has created a strong presence in front of the White House; a constant reminder. Meanwhile, back at the church, various peoples and groups were assigned tasks in order for tomorrow to run smoothly. It will be no small feat of organization and cooperation for the many expected people to manifest as one singular group, simultaneously speaking out in front of four of the main government institutions responsible for the continuation of Guantánamo—the White House, Department of Justice, Congress and the Supreme Court.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 8
Photo: Cage vigil at the White House, hour 66
We have spent this cold, slushy day in D.C. fragmented into a number of small groups scattered in different directions. The projects, actions, and meetings included a vigil at the Pentagon (guided by Art Laffin, see his reflection below), a teach-in with Chris Hedges and another about torture at Freedom Plaza, an evening reflection encompassing action planning and personal sharing, a phone call with fasters in other parts of the country, and of course the continuation of the 92-hour cage vigil that is now more than halfway through. Because of that vigil, the lights, which are normally switched on around 7 a.m., stayed out until the afternoon, leaving a semi-dark space for those who’d been out overnight or quite early to rest and re-gather their strength.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 7
Day 6 of the fast is drawing to a close and many are feeling a natural exhaustion, but we continue to be animated by the number of projects that keep us moving, thinking, and interacting with each other and those around us.
We had a full day with a conference call to the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, a report about Afghanistan, the continuation of the 92-hour cell vigil, a White House vigil, a fasters circle, and a viewing of Taxi to the Dark Side with Occupy D.C. folks from McPherson Square.
As we continue in this work we are grateful for the involvement of friends near and far. Below are a few suggestions of how you can engage with the fast and actions either here in D.C. or from your home community.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 6
Hour 16 of 92-hr Guantánamo cage vigil at White House
We truly have transitioned. Long days of sitting in court room 312, wandering its halls, trying to ignore the pastries in the café while sipping hot tea, are over. Most of the day was spent out of doors – at Occupy Washington D.C., processing through the city, haunting the Washington Monument and the White House and introducing “the cage” to the public. And at four o’clock this afternoon, we lifted the Guantánamo Cell that had spent the day leading our procession around the city, over the stanchions that prevent vehicles from entering the White House grounds, and wheeled it onto Pennsylvania Avenue to begin what will be a continuous vigil (92 hours) until January 11th. As we write (11:30pm on Jan. 7th), three of our community are there at the White House, to be replaced by another shift soon.Whether in court or out of doors our momentum is sustained by the many diverse contributions of numerous participants of the WAT community. There are teams of volunteers directing their time and energy to various essential tasks: house-keeping, action planning, courtroom sketches, photographs and videos, waking up early to put on coffee and hot water, staying up late to collect and disseminate information. One of our un-credited daily updaters, Ted Walker, has left for a few days, as did defendant Brian Hynes, and his wife and daughter Heidi and Frieda, whose invigorating presence will be truly missed.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 5
As we prepare this daily update, folks are trickling back to the church from a Clarification of Thought meeting on Witness Against Torture with our friends at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. Laughter is hushed as the lights are turned down, mattresses are spread out in every direction across the floor. Day 4 of our fast is coming to a close.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 4
Defendant pro se Josie Setzler addresses the judge as the defendants and their attorney advisers look on. Sketch by Deb VanPoolen.
We write to you this evening with the report that the jury found Brian Hynes, Mike Levinson, and Carmen Trotta guilty on all charges, but were “truly deadlocked” by the end of the day concerning Judith Kelly. The jury was sent home and will resume in the morning.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 3
Press conference before the second day of the trial. Photo by Paki Weiland.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 2
In its opening statement of our court trial, the government repeatedly insisted that “this was not the time and place” – not the time to present our grievances against the continuation (or, as is recently evident, perpetuation) of Guantánamo, not the forum for debating these issues. And yet we maintain that now is always the time and place to speak out against Guantánamo.
Continue reading Fast for Justice 2012: Day 1
We are not here to make angels out of prisoners.
We don’t know them,
but we know they still are men.
And so we defend
those that disappear
under hoods into jumpsuits, bringing back
into the light every CIA black site
because right now
there is a man
under that hood.
Continue reading There Is a Man Under That Hood