Let’s Talk Ferguson — Chicago Symposium January 14

Urgent update:  We have just today, Jan 13, received word of a priceless opportunity occurring the evening of January 14 in Chicago.

The Yearly Meeting has joined with various Monthly Meetings in discussing the social issues raised by the events in Ferguson and elsewhere in the country.  There is a remarkably related event planned for January 14, as follows: Continue reading

Killing in Our Name

Author: David Finke (upon request by PRC)

One of the agonizing aspects of capital punishment (a/k/a the State killing its own citizens) is that — in its official-sounding pomposity — a convict is executed (in our case) “in the name of the People of the State of Missouri.”

That’s what happened in the early hours of May 20th, after a 4-year hiatus in which there were no death sentences carried out here. In a dozen locations across Missouri people gathered in witness against this act, saying in effect, “Not in OUR name!”

The man who was systematically poisoned to death (though supposedly unconscious) was Dennis Skillicorn, involved in at least 3 murders — never as the direct perpetrator but yet legally liable as an accomplice.

Whether or not one is moved by the case (easy to make) that he was repentant and rehabilitated and had given his last 15 years to efforts at restorative justice, the opposition to killing him was a religious and philosophical one for most of us, not dependent on the specifics of his case.

I was gratified to see that — on the vigil line in front of the county courthouse in Columbia, MO, the night of Dennis’ execution — we had a dozen folks who in some way or another were part of our Friends Meeting. The mentor/exemplar for us all in these efforts has been Friend John Schuder, aged 87, who decades ago founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation in central Missouri. He has made and maintained the collection of incisive and dignified signs for people to hold on these vigils, and is unswervingly our most eloquent spokesperson.

Three of our local Quakers are featured in this picture of quiet outrage and grief. The image of people standing in silence rather than ranting is one that gets through to many, and bit by bit may help turn the tide of public opinion.

There were about 40 people present, including Catholic Worker folks who have a huge quilt on which they keep adding pictures of yet one more person put to death in our name since the ghastly practice resumed perhaps 20 years ago. We’ve killed over 50 human beings, and I think rank just behind Texas and Georgia (or Florida) in our blood-lust. [Editorial note: Skillicorn was the 67th Missouri inmate to be put to death since capital punishment was reinstated in the state in 1989; source: Kansas City Star – May 20, 2009.]

I’m grateful that we have the support of our Yearly Meeting, and help of Peace Resources Committee, for caring about this and being at the forefront of public witness against this barbarism. And that’s what it is, regardless of how Officialdom keeps trying to sanitize it.

Spread the Word: 57% of the U.S. Budget is for Military Spending

Author: Breeze Richardson (on behalf of the Peace Resources Committee)

wtrThe American Friends Service Committee recently asked Friends to join them in spreading the word about how much of our taxes goes toward military spending:

On April 15, protest the amount of your tax dollars spent on the military. Tax day is just around the corner.  Do you know where your money goes?

Despite a much needed increase in funding for human needs in the FY 2010 budget, military spending still eats up 57% of the total.  This month, we ask you to stage an event outside your local post office on April 15 to protest the amount of tax dollars spent on the military.  We support the President’s decision to put more of the budget toward meeting peoples’ basic needs – that’s one of our core values.  But we also believe in peace. The United States already accounts for about half of the world’s total military spending. To stay true to our values, we must continue to protest the disproportionate amount of money our country invests each year in defense.

Let’s take this opportunity to praise the president for shifting money to necessities like health care, food, and education.  Let’s also use it to show people how much more we could do.  By working together, we can persuade President Obama to cut even more defense funding in next year’s budget.  This month, remind people where their tax dollars are going – good and bad.  You can help!

– Host or attend an event on April 15, 2009.

Download our resources to help educate your community; we have exciting information you’ll want to share!

Join us on April 15.  Say yes to funding human needs.  Say no to war. Wage peace.

Laurie Creasy
American Friends Service Committee

**You can also search for an event near you, in case you’re not up for organizing something, but would like to attend an already scheduled event in support.  

What are your thoughts about Tax Day Protests & the current plan amount of military spending we experience in the United States?