I write this while sitting in a courtroom waiting for the arraignment of those arrested yesterday for the civil resistance action and randomly during the mass arrest that followed. Regina and Annmarie are among them. Bail was set at over $5000 dollars. Our friends didn’t intend to pay, hopefully we won’t have to.
Chris “crossed the line” this afternoon, nimbly, over the fence. I cried. I don’t know why. Meg, Mary Ellen, Cat and a girl I’d just met gave me long hugs of consolation. He leapt into becoming a representative of those murdered by graduates from the School of the Americas. Now I have to care.
We were there to mourn those who have lost lives and loved ones as victims, those who’ve lost integrity and humanity as victimizers. We were there too to uncover the infiltration of militarization and corrupt powers that exist all around us. The SOA has itself become a symbol. This school that has become notorious for graduates who lead and participate in assassinations, coups, massacres, war crimes—trained on U.S. soil, in U.S. tactics, with U.S. dollars, implicating U.S. citizens.
During our informal “pre-crossing” mass I could hear the “presente!” chant of the procession continuing around us, the beating of the drum. Feebly, I drew toward a sense of empathy with those who attempt to worship while surrounded by death.
“What are your impressions from today?” I asked Aaron. He said the mass felt like it was the last supper. Jake was Peter, the right hand man, the organizer. Crowds of friends and followers gave mixed messages of praise, concern, encouragement and scorn to our lamb. I wondered if he thought of Christ’s crown of thorns as his fingers wrapped over the barbed wire strung across the top of the fence.
“We act in response to the holocausts continuing to occur around the world,” he had said, carrying with him the ID card of a seven-year-old Belgium boy who’d been gassed in nazi Germany. Many of those killed by SOA graduates were young children, infants, mothers. We wonder, in retrospect, how such things as the mass killings of Jews could be allowed to happen. Could it be that such cruelty continues” Could it be us allowing it now?
After the Chris’ crossing I sat in the shad of the stage and listened to songs of freedom being belted out by the powerful voices of the musicians collective. Brother Josh, who had painted his face white, worn a black robe and carried a coffin in the procession sate beside me. “How did it feel?” I asked. He said it felt like being family, as pallbearers often are. He thought about how when one dies, all the family dies too. He thought, if we were able to truly understand each other as brother and sister, wars would cease. We would know we were killing ourselves.
Waiting silently in the courtroom to hear our friends’ fate, I think of those arrested yesterday who were not prepared, who did not enter purposefully. I think about those without support. I acknowledge that this happens every day; often without justice, often without love. Now I have to care. This is the heavy gift that our brothers and sisters who risk arrest offer. Even when I don’t fully understand thief action, I see the value of this gift.
Gratefully, I accept. May I be found worthy of the gifts that I’ve received! May we all remember the cost, and the debt that remains.