Paul’s Perambulations

April 22, 2011

Good Friday Peace Demonstration at Lockheed Martin

Filed under: Education,Peace,Religion — Paul @ 9:32 pm

I am a regular attender at the Brandywine-sponsored Good Friday demonstration at Lockheed-Martin (and was arrested there on Good Friday a few years ago). Something unusual happened this year, as explained in the following letter that I wrote to the leaders of the Brandywine Peace Community. 

The Good Friday observance at Lockheed Martin was meaningful for me today as every year. I am writing about one particular occurrence, unique in my experience, which happened today.

A policeman was harassing a demonstrator to require him to show a permit for the concealed weapon he was apparently carrying.  There was intense conversation, with the subject insisting on his legal right not to show a permit. This was a distraction to the purpose of the Brandywine observance, and so I ignored it, while others filmed it. Eventually, the individual produced a permit for the police.

Apparently this individual attended for the first time, as part of a group of four. They seemed to be well-versed in the legalities of carrying concealed weapons, while at the same time they appeared to be committed anti-war activists.  This all made me feel very uncomfortable for the Brandywine Peace Community. In discussion at the conclusion of the service, members of the group defended their right to carry weapons for self defense, including a readiness to defend themselves at peace demonstrations. They pointedly said that the police overseeing the demonstration were armed, as an argument in their justification. One of the group described how peace activists in Arizona had dealt with this issue some decades ago and were accepting of armed anti-war activists at their rallies.  (Personally, I can’t use the term “peace activists” in this context.  Guess things happen differently out west.)

Brandywine Peace Community is an inter-faith community with its founding faith principle being that of nonviolence.  Most fittingly for this particular Good Friday event, Jesus himself explicitly told the disciples to put away the sword at the time of his arrest. That makes the inappropriateness of today’s situation perfectly clear.

It is important that anti-war groups include a range of views and opinions.  Beth expressed it best when she told one of them that, had she known about this, she would have asked that they leave any weapons in their car before joining the Brandywine activities   Brandywine does not have a “test” of the nonviolent beliefs of those in attendance, but does expect that any of those participating in activities of the Brandywine Peace Community will be prepared to demonstrate adherence to the nonviolent tenants of the Community during their active participation.

Brandywine has a 32-year history of Good Friday observances based on principles of nonviolence. And it will have many more.

Peace, Paul

1 Comment »

  1. I intentionally ignored the obvious explanation: FBI (or comparable government intelligence/surveillance organization).

    1. Lower Merion police were insistent that the man show a permit. Individual insisted that he was not obligated to do so. As tension increased to a potentially serious level, man quickly reached into jacked and immediately produced a white card. Policeman glanced at card and quietly left. No hesitation on anyone’s part – after much stress, this all happened quickly and smoothly.

    2. The individual was one of a group of four. In the discussion immediately after the service, Beth and I spoke with the man. Another person joined the conversation in that man’s support, while a number of other people were milling about. During the initial challenge of the policeman to the man, there were no others coming to his support (although some were videotaping the encounter). I was not clear that they were a group until I saw four men (including the man in question) on the far side of the highway, walking toward their black compact sedan as they were leaving together.

    3. The members of the “group” did not seem like your typical peace demonstrators (latter are mostly older men and women, along with some younger women in their 20’s). Sturdy white males between the ages of 30 and 50 are perhaps the least represented group at these peace demonstrations. They looked like they would fit in well for infiltrating a motorcycle gang or doing a drug bust (they were more “cool” than typical demonstrators, dressed in jeans and black tops).

    4. The exception to “cool” was the person in a PEACE/LOVE black T-shirt. Someone offered him a jacket (it was a cold day), but he declined it. It would appear he didn’t want to cover up his message.

    5. I didn’t hear anything from them about their specific backgrounds. Most people demonstrating have a story – they are from a local college, a Catholic Worker House or Pax Christie or the like. Folks generally don’t just show up without some story to tell of what led them to this point.

    Another possibility relates to the fact that someone (not necessarily a member of the group in question) handed me a piece of paper promoting Focus On Peace This is a small and very new group (2011) in King of Prussia that claims to be a non-political peace group while being staunchly libertarian and anti-Obama (see website). Association with this group offers an alternative explanation for the man’s behavior.

    Comment by Paul — April 22, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

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