Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Charges dropped for priests praying at the border

October 6, 2009
Leslie Klusmire and John Heid
520-305-3276 520-305-3276
Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa
520-323-8697 520-323-8697, cell - 520-603-1917 520-603-1917

Charges Dropped for Pair Who Prayed at Virtual Border Tower Under Construction

Memorial Circle Commemorating the Lost Lives of Migrants to be Held
in Green Valley on October 7 at 9:30 a.m.
Two men were scheduled to be on trial Wednesday, October 7 at 10:30 a.m. in Green Valley, Arizona. They learned on October 5 that due to prosecutorial discretion, their charges were dismissed without prejudice, which reserves the right of the prosecutor to reintroduce the charges at a later date. They were charged by Pima County with trespass after "refusing to quit praying" at the virtual fence communication tower under construction near the U.S./Mexico border on August 6, Hiroshima Day.
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. The pair were arrested, and then processed and released from the Pima County Adult Detention Center in Tucson.
Because the deaths of migrants continues, the men and their supporters will still hold a Memorial Circle that was scheduled to take place before court. The circle will commemorate the more than 200 lives lost in the Sonoran Desert along the Tucson Sector in the last fiscal year alone, as well as remembering the more than 5,600 people who have died along the Mexico/Arizona border since Operation Gatekeeper began nearly 15 years ago. The Memorial Circle will take place from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. at the southeast corner of N. La Canada Drive and W. La Canoa in Green Valley, Arizona (near the Pima County Justice Court).
John Heid states, "The dismissal serves to keep the role of Tucson-1, the 'virtual fence', out of court, out of sight, out of legal and public scrutiny. The Tucson-1 towers are part and parcel of an escalating militarization of the U.S./Mexico border. Deaths have only increased along the border since the construction of Tucson-1's prototype, "Project 28", to over 200 this past year."
Zawada and Heid had the following statement with them at their August 6 prayer vigil:
"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."

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