Friday, December 28, 2007

Priests, lock down, in the hole, for protesting US torture

After peaceful protests at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, over US torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo,
two priests are in prison, and another two persons are jailed awaiting trial.
Photo: Fr. Louie Vitale, now in lock down, and Fr. Steve Kelly, in the "hole" for refusing to work in the prison system

Dear friends,
Betsy Lamb and Fr. Jerry Zawada remain at the CCA in Florence, Arizona, awaiting their February 4 trial along with Mary Burton Riseley.
A motion to modify Betsy's pre-trial detention without bail and request that conditional release be granted was summarily denied.
They've each had several visits in the 3+ weeks they've been inprison. Unfortunately they are not able to receive any books, magazines or newspapers unless it is pre-approved by their case manager. If you come across an interesting article, you can print it up or photocopy it, and use the paper as stationary. Please find below a recent letter from Jerry to friends and supporters. Thanks to Mary Lou Pedersen for typing it up and sending it out.
Fr. Louie Vitale is doing fine in the solitude of 23 hour lock-down at the Imperial County Jail. He has plenty of time for reading,writing and prayer. He has had different cellmates occasionally.
Jack and I arrived in El Centro on December 22 to visit Louie and found that old friends of his had already signed in for a visit.
Since only two people are allowed in at a time on a first-come,first-served basis, they were very kind to allow one of us to go in for the visit with one of them. Please, if you want to visit Louie (or Steve, Betsy or Jerry), contact Brother David Buer in advance to schedule a visiting date - precisely so this sort of thing doesn't happen! Email Brother David at or call (314)803-6735.
Several days after being sent to the privately owned Correctional Institution in Taft, California, Fr. Steve Kelly was moved to administrative segregation ("the hole") because of his refusal to work. This is a stand he has also taken while locked up in the past,not wanting to participate in keeping the prison running smoothly.
He keeps in mind the observation of Dorothy Day: "Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system."
Steve didn't have access to stamps right away, and hasn't been ableto call. We finally got a letter from him explaining his current situation. He's been receiving his mail, and reports having sometime outside. He is allowed a 5 minute phone call once a month, andhas limited access to commissary. We haven't been able to get avisiting form, and it looks unlikely that he will be able to havevisits. He was told that he will remain in the hole for the remainder of his sentence. Like Louie, he has ample time forreading, writing and prayer.
You can find prison addresses and other support details for all fourat
They are appreciative of all of the letters and support they are receiving. They are also grateful for all of your efforts to bring about an end to war, torture and nuclear weapons.
Best wishes in the new year,Feliceon behalf of Torture on Trial
>From Fr. Jerry Zawada:
December 27th 2007
My Dear Friends-all who bring messages of hope.
"Each one of us can do something", Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa and other inspired leaders of our lifetime agree. No one is left out, when we do what we can to bring Truth into focus and to strive for much needed change. Like YOU!
I feel it, and know it, because of what you tell me in your letters,because of the strength you give me and my companions from our actions at Ft. Huachuca in Southern Arizona.
As much as I would like to answer every letter personally-some 100 in the past two and a half weeks-I am unable to do so. Throughout this time I've only been allowed 20 postage stamps and not allowed to purchase any more from commissary till the New Year.
Just about everyone in prison for matters of justice, peace, truth, and nonviolence feels called to a brighter future for so many struggling to build a new life for themselves; a sacred mission for sure.
And again, you are part of that mission. None of my companions here at cell block 400-G have the kind of support you give me. I want to share your goodness with them.
Despite my inability to respond by letter, I want to let you know that you are very much with me. I sense your presence, your giftedness and mine to be able to continue. I hold you in my heart,my thoughts and prayers in gratitude for all that you're about. Yours is not a letter wasted.
"Each of us can do something." you're doing it! Thank you. May the light of God's blessing shine on you. May 2008 be the year Mother Earth and all God's creatures begin to sigh relief.
Peace-Solidarity always!
Photo: Courtesy Torture on Trial

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