The Green Leaf is resurrected – Nov. 2005 issue now online and in print

Well the first issue of the resurrected Green Leaf (our state newsletter) is out and online at http://www.okgreens.org/greenleaf/greeenleaf-nov2005.pdf

Or if you want one in print, come to the OKC Peace Festival tomorrow where we’ll be handing them out at our table.

This first issue is pretty short, but we wanted to go ahead and get it out in time to hand out at the Peace Festival. The next issue though I hope will be longer and of better quality, so if you would like to help on it as part of the newsletter committee, please get in touch.

Thanks,
James Branum
GPOK Secretary
jmb (at) okgreens (dot) org

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Oklahoma Greens endorse vigil in support of 3 CO’s imprisoned at Ft. Sill

(This event has been endorsed by the Green Party of Oklahoma)

Vigil on behalf of 3 “prisoners of conscience” 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 “prisoners of conscience” 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 “crime” 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 church’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 “enticing and abetting” 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.

“The military has sentenced these men to prison to make an example out of them, to hopefully deter others from following their conscience,” said James M. Branum, organizer for the Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors. “We 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.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact James M. Branum at 405-476-5620 or info(at)okobjector(dot)org.

VIGIL DETAILS:
Sunday, August 28, 2005
1:30 p.m. — Gather at The Peace House, 2912 N. Robinson, Oklahoma City
1:45 pm — News media interviews if they are interested.
2:00 pm — Caravan departs for Lawton
4-6 p.m. — Vigil in Lawton — 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 — either verbally or physically — 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, “All 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.”

Ballot access LTE in the Edmond Sun

OK Greens Co-Chair James Branum had a letter to the editor published in the Edmund Sun:

Cooksey’s bill would make state elections more open

Every year at the ballot box we all face tough decisions, but in the end we are in the voting booth alone with our conscience and our judgment. It is in that voting booth that we are able to express our own viewpoint without fear. It is in the voting booth that every voice should be heard.

Last November I was denied the right to vote for the candidate of my choice.

For myself as Mennonite and a believer in Jesus’ message of peace, I wanted to vote for a Presidential candidate who would bring an end to the war in Iraq.

But instead I was given only two choices – Bush and Kerry, who both were strong defenders of the war. If I had lived in another state, I could have voted my conscience. In fact in every other state of the union, there would have been at least one other choice for President on the ballot. However, since Oklahoma doesn’t have democratic election laws, we get only two choices.

It is time to change the law. HB 1429 (introduced by St. Rep. Marian Cooksey R-Edmond and St. Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Tulsa) would restore democracy to our state by lowering the petitioning requirement for new political parties from 70,000+ signatures to 5,000 (the state’s requirement from 1924-1974).

Democracy means that you get to vote for the candidate of your own choice. If you think it is time that we have this right in Oklahoma, please call you state legislator and ask them to support HB 1429.

For more information on this issue please go to http://www.okballotchoice.org

James M. Branum
Oklahoma City

Journal Record publishes OK Greens letter on tattoo legalization

Our statement on the pending tattoo legalization bill has been published as a letter to the editor in the Journal Record, an Oklahoma City business newspaper. For the full text of the letter (they made slight moderations to our press release), see the entry in GPOK co-chair James Branum’s blog, jmbzine.com.