Sunday, August 9, 2009

Arizona: Two arrested praying for migrants

August 6, 2009, Noon
Contact: John Heid, Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa - 520-323-8697
Two Arrested in Prayer at Virtual Border Tower
Under Construction in Arizona
Two men were arrested this morning during a prayer vigil at a virtual fence communication tower under construction west of Arivaca, in southern Arizona. John Heid, 54, a Quaker with Christian Peacemaker Teams and Fr. Jerome Zawada, 72, a Franciscan priest, had gone to pray at the site out of deep concern for the deaths of migrants resulting from border walls and virtual fences. Shortly after 11 a.m., a Pima County Sheriff's deputy called to the scene arrested both men for trespass. The pair were taken into custody and are being transported to the Pima County Adult Detention Center in Tucson for processing.
Fr. Zawada stated today, "For the past 26 years I¹ve come to know and love many of our migrant families who have taught me something of the heart of God. As a Catholic priest and Franciscan friar I feel called to accompany these suffering travelers and work with others who believe in this journey of compassion."
John Heid said, "The virtual fence is as lethal as a bomb. It is billed by proponents as more aesthetically pleasing than a traditional fence or wall. It is touted as environmentally friendly, allowing animals to roam freely. Yet it remains undeniably lethal to human beings by forcing people further into remote desert terrain on their journey north. I decry this loss of life. This loss of civility. This loss of sensibility. Construction must be halted. Could not the $100 million being spent on these towers be put to humanitarian use? Humane means of resolving issues such as economic disparity and subsequent migration must be undertaken. Ultimately our own survival alongside that of our southern neighbors depends on cooperation."
The pair 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."
For more information about Christian Peacemaker Teams, visit www.cpt.org/

August 6, 2009, 6 p.m. MST
Contact: John Heid, Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa - 520-323-8697
UPDATE: Virtual Border Tower Vigilers Released with Trespass Charge
John Heid and Fr. Jerry Zawada, O.F.M. were released from custody in Tucson this afternoon, following their arrest on Arizona state charges of criminal trespass. They agreed not to return to the site of their arrest pending their arraignment in Pima County Justice Court on Monday, August 17.
The men were arrested this morning at a virtual fence communication tower west of Arivaca, in southern Arizona, where they had gone to pray out of deep concern for the deaths of migrants resulting from border walls and virtual fences.
The pair 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 endto bombs, nuclear and conventional. An end to the use of Drones(unmanned aerial vehicles). An end to walls, fences and their virtualcounterparts 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 clockin Iraq and Afghanistan armed with Hellfire missiles which have killedhundreds 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, havefunneled 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 weaponsdirected specifically at noncombatants. Cities like Hiroshima,villages in Iraq and Afghanistan and the U.S.-Mexico borderland havebeen deliberately targeted and violated. These are crimes againsthumanity. 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."

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

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