CNV Action in National Harbor, MD
From Noon- 1:30 p.m. twelve peacemakers from DMV area held a nonviolent witness to resist, once again, the annual Air Force Association (AFA) "Arms Bazaar" held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. Among those who participated in this witness included members and friends of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi and CODEPINK. This witness was in solidarity with Campaign Nonviolence who is sponsoring a week-long series of actions nationwide from September 14-22. Nearly 3,000 actions are taking place in the U.S. and abroad as part of this campaign. For more info see: https://paceebene.org/campaign-nonviolence/
As we gathered across the street from the Gaylord, we were greeted by a Prince George Co. police officer. We stated our purpose for being there and invited the officer to get an injunction barring the AFA from holding its criminal weapons exhibition. Carrying banners and signs, ten of us then processed to the main entrance of the Gaylord where the Arms Bazaar was being held. As we made our way to the entrance we were visible to scores of soldiers who were coming out of the Gaylord. Once at the entrance we vigiled for about ten minutes until we were ordered to leave by Gaylord security and PG police. As we left the entrance, in view of many soldiers and arms contractors, we sang "Down By the Riverside."
We then set up our vigil and continued our witness on the sidewalk in front of the Gaylord next to the driveway entrance where people attending the Arms Bazaar enter and exit. Last year we vigiled in the same space for the first time. However in the six previous years of our witness we were prohibited from vigiling on the Gaylord sidewalk because it is "private property."
During this time Paki Wieland and I read our leaflet (see below) and after each paragraph we chanted "STOP THE AFA ARMS BAZAAR -- DISARM NOW!" This was followed by a reading of the Beatitudes from Luke's Gospel. Rev. Chuck Booker then offered a prayer of Exorcism and Conversion. Pat Elder, Kathy Boylan, Bob Cooke and Jack McHale read selections from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Beyond Vietnam" speech from 1967. Mary Neznek led a Litany of Repentance and Conversion which was followed by a song. We then heard from Medea Benjamin who had gone inside the Gaylord. She shared how saddening it was to witness up close this scandalous "Arms Bazaar." She said she tried to interview a Lockheed Martin representative about the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia who have used such weapons to bomb school buses and hospitals in Yemen, but the representative would not speak about this subject.
In our closing circle, we remembered the continuing struggle by the people in Vieques, Puerto Rico who are endangered by the deadly waste left behind from decades of U.S. naval bomb testing. We remembered, too, the whistle-blowers and truth-tellers, including Katharine Gun, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Mordechai Vanunu who have endured great suffering as a result of their courageous actions. And finally, we remembered the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 who will be tried in Federal Court in Brunswick, Georgia on October 21 for their prophetic action at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base on April 4, 2018. They face a maximum 25 year prison sentence. We concluded our vigil by singing the Vine and Fig Tree song.
In hope for a disarmed world,