(This event has been endorsed by the Green Party of Oklahoma)
Vigil on behalf of 3 â€œprisoners of conscienceâ€ to be held in Lawton, OK — Event is planned to show support for soldiers being jailed for refusing to fight in Iraq
Supporters of three â€œprisoners of conscienceâ€ currently incarcerated at Fort Sill will hold a vigil in support of them on Sunday, August 28th from 4-6 p.m. in Lawton, OK.
The vigil is being organized by the Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors and has the endorsement of local and national peace and activist groups, including:
* Voices in the Wilderness (www.vitw.org)
* Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (www.objector.org)
* Tulsa Peace Fellowship (www.tulsapeace.org)
* The Peace House of Oklahoma City (www.peacehouseok.org)
* OCU Law school chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (www.okcnlg.org)
* The Green Party of Oklahoma (www.okgreens.org)
The vigil has also been endorsed by Camilo Mejia (www.freecamilo.org), a soldier who was sentenced to one year in prison for refusing to return to Iraq.
The three imprisoned objectors are Blake LeMoine, Dale Bartell and Neil Quentin Lucas.
Specialist Blake LeMoine was convicted of the â€œcrimeâ€ of willfully disobeying orders for refusing to perform duties after a year-long tour of Iraq. He was sentenced to seven months in prison, reduction in rank to private and bad conduct discharge after a March 2005 hearing at Darmstadt Military Base in Germany, and was shipped to Ft. Sill to complete his sentence.
Specialist Dale Bartell became a Mennonite after serving a combat tour in Iraq. After encountering the churchâ€™s teachings and his own conscience he refused to return to Iraq and was sentenced in July to four months in military prison and a dishonorable discharge. His wife Amy, was also cited by military police with felony charges for â€œenticing and abettingâ€ a deserter, but the charges were later dropped.
Private Neil Quentin Lucas of Boston was a man of faith who did not believe in violence, but was told by his recruiter that he would not have to ever kill anyone if he joined. During training at Ft. Knox he realized this was a lie and attempted to get out, but his commander punished him for doing this. He later filed a CO application in 2003 which was torn up by his Captain.
Neil filed a second CO application in the summer of 2004 which was ignored by the military bureaucracy at that time. Finally in January 2005 he was ordered to deploy to Iraq. Upon refusing to deploy he was held on base at Ft. Stewart. His application for CO status was denied in March 2005, and he was tried in a court-martial on June 22, 2005. Upon conviction he was shipped to Ft. Sill to serve 13 months in prison.
â€œThe military has sentenced these men to prison to make an example out of them, to hopefully deter others from following their conscience,â€ said James M. Branum, organizer for the Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors. â€œWe instead say that these men set a POSITIVE example for us all. We salute them for their nonviolent actions of conscience, and their willingness to do what is right instead of obeying orders. Our hope is that other Americans would follow their example of peaceful resistance to unlawful and immoral orders and laws.â€
FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact James M. Branum at 405-476-5620 or info(at)okobjector(dot)org.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
1:30 p.m. â€” Gather at The Peace House, 2912 N. Robinson, Oklahoma City
1:45 pm â€” News media interviews if they are interested.
2:00 pm â€” Caravan departs for Lawton
4-6 p.m. â€” Vigil in Lawton â€” meet about 200 yards south of the Ft. Sill gate of Ft. Sill, on the east side of the road.
More precisely, this location is on the right-of-way in front of Highland Cemetery in Lawton (2401 NW Ft. Sill Blvd, at the corner of Smith & Ft. Sill Blvd).
A map to this location can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/7eqbo
PARTICIPANT GUIDELINES: Out of a desire to ensure a peaceful and successful vigil on behalf of those imprisoned for conscience sake and the courageous stands they are taking, we ask that all participants in the vigil agree to cooperate with these guidelines.
1. Please do not carry weapons, illegal drugs, or other contraband on your person.
2. Please do not assault â€” either verbally or physically â€” those who oppose or disagree with us. Even if we face verbal or physical opposition to our message, it is critical that we remain in a peaceful nonviolent posture.
3. Please be respectful to any law enforcement and/or military personnel we encounter.
4. Please do not bring signs that are attached to sticks for carrying. (the sticks could be construed as weapons by law enforcement)
5. Please do not impede or block traffic in any way at this location. (this includes handing literature to passing motorists)
6. Be respectful but also stand firm in your lawful right to publicly speak for what is right. The right to peaceful protest is guaranteed under the US and Oklahoma Constitutions, as well as Lawton City Code, Section 16-4-3-442-A which says, â€œAll persons shall have the right to peacefully demonstrate, strike or otherwise use the public streets, roads, sidewalks or other public property of this city for the purpose of expressing their opinions or viewpoints, or imparting information.â€