FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Big Lock-Up

“We can never forget that everything that Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal,’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany, but I am sure that if I lived in Germany during that time I would have comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal…we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension.  We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

There have been over 15,000 arrests for resistance to war since 2002.

There were large numbers right after the run up to and invasion of Iraq.  Recently, arrests have begun climbing again.  Though arrests are a small part of anti-war organizing, their rise is an indicator of increasing resistance.

The information comes from the NUCLEAR RESISTER, a newsletter that has been reporting detailed arrest information on peace activists and other social justice campaigns since 1980.  Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa, publishers of the NUCLEAR RESISTER, document arrests by name and date based on information collected from newspapers across the country and from defense lawyers and peace activists.

Since 2002, the NUCLEAR RESISTER has documented anti-war arrests for protestors each year:

2002 – 1800 arrests
2003    6072 arrests
2004    2440 arrests
2005    975 arrests
2006    950 arrests
2007    2272 arrests
2008    810 as of May 1

“Arrests for resistance to war are far more widespread geographically than most people think,” according to Cohen-Joppa of NUCLEAR RESISTER. “Yes, there are many arrests in DC and traditional big cities of anti-war activity – like San Francisco, NYC and Chicago, but there have also been anti-war arrests in Albany, Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bangor, Bath, Bend, Brentwood, Burlington, Campbell, Cedar Rapids, Chapel Hill, Charlottesville, Chicopee, Colorado Springs, Denver, Des Moines, East Hampton, Erie, Eugene, Eureka, Fairbanks, Fairport, Fort Bragg, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Great Dismal Swamp, Hammond, Huntsville, Joliet, Juneau, Kennebunkport, La Crosse, Los Angeles, Madison, Manchester, Memphis, Newark, Northbrook, Olympia, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Portland, Portsmouth, Providence, Richmond, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Fe, Smithfield, Springfield, St. Louis, St. Paul, Staten Island, Superior, Syracuse, Tacoma, Toledo, Tucson, Tulsa, Vandenberg, Virginia
Beach, Wausau, Wheaton and Wilmington just to name a few.”

“In fact,” Cohen-Joppa writes , “in 2007, anti-war arrests were reported during 250 distinct events in 105 cities in 35 states and the District of Columbia.  So far in 2008, arrests have been reported at 65 events in 43 different cities in 19 states and D.C.”

An example of the scope of resistance can be found in the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  They joined with other major peace groups like CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, and the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance in early 2007 to launch The Occupation Project, a campaign of resistance aimed at ending the Iraq War.  Theirs was a campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to end funding for the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq.  The Occupation Project resulted in over 320 arrests in spring of 2007 in the offices of 39 U.S. Representatives and Senators in 25 states.

“I am energized by the dedication of so many conscientious activists across the country willing to take the risks of peace and speak truth to power,” says Max Obuszewski of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.  “We have been unsuccessful so far in stopping this awful war and occupation of Iraq, but it is not for the lack of direct action. We are taking on the greatest empire in world history, but we will continue to act.”

“There are large numbers of new people being arrested,” notes Cohen-Joppa, “most typically saying, ‘I have tried everything else from writing to voting, but I have to do more to stop this war.’  The profile of people arrested includes high school teenagers to senior citizens, mostly people under 30 and over 50.”

Anti-war arrests are significantly under-reported by mainstream media.  For example, around the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq in March 2008, most news stories wrote that there were 150 to 200 arrests nationwide.  Cohen-Joppa and NUCLEAR RESISTER report there were over double that number, well over 400, many outside the cities where regular media traditionally look.

Though arrests typically drop off in election years, as people’s hopes are raised that a new President or Congress will make a difference and stop the war, this year looks like arrests are likely to continue to rise.  In part, that will depend on the attitude of authorities in Denver and Minneapolis, where the political conventions are being held.  In 2004, New York City authorities overreacted so much to protestors at the Republican convention that they arrested historic numbers of protestors – including hundreds who had no intention to risk arrest.   If Senator McCain is elected, anti-war resistance activities are expected to rise much higher.

Why do people risk arrest in their resistance to war?  Perhaps Daniel Berrigan, on trial for resistance to the Vietnam War, said it best:

“The time is past when good people may be silent
when obedience
can segregate us from public risk
when the poor can die without defense.
How many indeed must die
before our voices are heard
how many must be tortured dislocated
starved maddened?
How long must the world=s resources
be raped in the service of legalized murder?
When at what point will you say no to this war?
We have chosen to say
with the gift of our liberty
if necessary our lives:
the violence stops here.
The death stops here.
The suppression of truth stops here.
This war stops here.”

Though war resistance activities and arrests have not stopped the war in Iraq, those struggling for peace remain committed.  “None of us know what will happen if we continue to work for peace and human rights,” says a handmade poster of one involved in the resistance, “But we all know what will happen if we don’t.”

BILL QUIGLEY is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He’s a regular contributor to CounterPunch, and can be reached at Quigley77@gmail.com  The NUCLEAR RESISTER, is published 5 to 6 times a year. It can be contacted at nukeresister@igc.org

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail