Friday, August 7, 2009

Priest and Activist Arrested While Praying at US-MX Border

photo credit: Fr. Bob Carney

This news story is about one of the most wonderful human beings I've ever met: John Heid.
I'm proud to call him my friend.

A Catholic priest and a peace activist were arrested yesterday morning during a prayer vigil at a virtual fence communication tower under construction in Arizona. John Heid, 54, a Quaker with Christian Peacemaker Teams and Fr. Jerome Zawada, 72, a Franciscan priest, had gone to pray at the US-Mexico border where walls and virtual fences have caused the deaths of five thousand migrants. A Pima County Sheriff's deputy arrested both for trespass. The pair was taken into custody on the anniversary of the atomic bomb deployment on Hiroshima, Japan. They released the following statement:

On this, the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, we call for an end to militarization in all its guises. An end to bombs, nuclear and conventional. An end to the use of Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). An end to walls, fences and their virtual counterparts that divide us and promote fear of each other. An end to war without end.

This morning we vigil at the gates of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base,
home of a Predator UAV unit which now flies missions around the clock in Iraq and Afghanistan armed with Hellfire missiles which have killed hundreds of unarmed civilians. We demand an end to the unilateral slaughter.

This afternoon we vigil at a communication tower, "Tucson-1" (virtual
fence) construction sight. Fences and walls, solid and virtual, have funneled people in migration deeper into the harsh, dangerous terrain of the Sonoran desert, resulting in more than 5,000 deaths since 1994.

These three - bombs, drones and fences/walls - are lethal weapons
directed specifically at noncombatants. Cities like Hiroshima, villages in Iraq and Afghanistan and the U.S.-Mexico borderland have been deliberately targeted and violated. These are crimes against humanity. A betrayal of civility. In spiritual terms, a sin.

Today we pray without ceasing for a world without weapons and fences.
We pray for peace, for justice, for unity which makes walls and war obsolete.


claire bangasser said...

Amen, Billie!

Dave Dubya said...

Jesus would be tossed into Gitmo if he dared to come and preach in America.

an average patriot said...

Sadly they are right! They are sending a message that should be heard but those with the weapons who will continue to use them will merely keep arresting them. As usual those who are right will always be ignored it seems.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Such a profound prayer.

Bless the two men who were arrested.

Randal Graves said...

Arrested for trespassing. Quite ironic, given what trespasses, material and otherwise, our government has done, is doing.

Beach Bum said...

With drug gangs smuggling stuff in and out of the country the county sheriff found time to arrest a priest and a Quaker? Wow, I never would have thought they were a threat to public safety.

Carol said...

Sweet men, bearing witness to the killing and destruction done in our name. I can see why you are proud to call Mr. Heid your friend. Thank you for posting this.

Maithri said...

Amen my friend, Amen,

Love will win,


Spadoman said...

I found this article HERE.

This snippet from Mike Wilson, a man who sets out water in the Sonorran desert, to ward off death from the heat by passing immigrants was with the article you posted about Heid and Fr. Zawada:

From: Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham
Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham who puts out water for migrants on Tohono O'odham land, against the wishes of the tribal government, responds to the ACLU opposing a migrant prison in Tohono O'odham's San Xavier District.

"What a victory for those of us opposed to the detention facility. I still don't want the facility on O'odham land anywhere! It's one blood stained injustice heaped upon another.
First, the Tohono O'odham tribal Government is vehemently opposed to allowing humanitarian aid on tribal lands. Second, tribal authorities have authorized the removal of my water stations from Baboquivari and Schuck Toac Districts.
Third, and now the Tohono O'odham Nation is seeking to maximize a profit on the backs of destitute migrants, many who are Indigenous People from Southern Mexico and Guatemala.
The Nation is anxious to take blood money from the Department of Homeland Security. Shamefully, we who were once oppressed are now the willing oppressors. (No More Deaths (NMD) press conference was held to protest the conviction in federal court of one of their volunteers, Walt Stanton, for "knowingly littering" on federal land.) I was asked by NMD to be the last presenter and I agreed.
The reality is that as tribal members of the Tohono O'odham Nation David Garcia and I are now vulnerable to arrest and conviction for doing the same thing on Tohono O'odham tribal lands. The legal precedent has now been irreversibly set for federal prosecution of humanitarian volunteers, like us, for knowing placing gallons of water for migrants in distress on any federal properties, inclusive of Native American reservations.
The truth is, despite our mythical notions of "sovereignty", reservations are first, foremost and manifestly, Federal Properties managed by the Department of Interior and it's agent, the Bureau of Indian Affairs."
Thanks, Mike Wilson

Dianne said...

astounding, but not at all surprising, that this was not covered in the news

Border Explorer said...

Thanks for these great comments! I'm still laughing at Dave Dubya's. But it is so true that I might start to cry.