Martin Gugino Archives - accuracy.org

George Floyd’s Killing, Martin Gugino’s Abuse and Witness Against Torture

JEREMY VARON, jvaron at aol.com, @WitnessTorture
Varon is professor of history at the New School and an activist with the group Witness Against Torture. He just wrote the piece “Martin Gugino – The ‘Buffalo Protestor’ and our Friend,” which states: “None of us is surprised that it was Martin meeting the police line in a posture of non-violence. Martin is gentle, principled, and undaunted. Allied with the Catholic Worker tradition, he is also deeply committed to a tapestry of causes, from fair housing to immigrant rights. Guiding his activism is belief in the sacred power of non-violent resistance to injustice. If that makes him an ‘agitator,’ as Buffalo’s police chief slandered him, then the world needs more agitators.” [See accuracy.org news release from Monday: “Today, Sentencing for Pacifist Jailed for Protesting ‘Omnicidal’ Weapons — Supported by Activist Thrown to Ground by Police.”]

Varon continued: “In his eulogy for George Floyd, attorney Benjamin Crump named what was done to him as ‘torture.’ It was a striking description I had not heard before. Floyd’s lynching needs no added indignity to stir our outrage. But torture has a special sting, both because of its willful cruelty and its supposed alienness to America.

“For years, we in Witness Against Torture vigorously protested what was in fact America’s systematic use of torture after 9/11. Like other human rights groups, we wanted the detained men to be subjects before the law, with basic protections and access to U.S. courts. In our work, we did not think much about race.

“Yet Black Lives Matter and other activists impressed on us an uncomfortable truth: that many of the abuses in War on Terror prisons, like solitary confinement, are routine in America’s domestic prisons, holding predominantly people of color. Access to the law, moreover, is no guarantee of justice. Sometimes the law is the problem.

“We began to see torture as part of a continuum of state violence, including in its racial aspect. Almost exclusively, the victims of post-9/11 torture have been brown-skinned Muslim men, demonized with the label ‘terrorist.’ Despite the innocence of most of the men historically held at Guantanamo, the law has been all but useless in freeing them. No one responsible for their torture has been held to legal account, including during the Obama administration. Going forward, our group sought to highlight the parallels between domestic and overseas abuses in a vast system of dehumanizing violence.

“Dismantling anti-black racism is today’s urgent priority. But abuses of power crave synergies, making other causes relevant. Recall that President Trump is an avowed supporter of torture.”

Today, Sentencing for Pacifist Jailed for Protesting “Omnicidal” Weapons — Supported by Activist Thrown to Ground by Police

Early Friday, IPA put out a news release “Barr Prosecuting Pacifists: Activists Face Prison for Action at Huge Nuclear Weapons Base” about the years-long prosecution and the sentencing of Plowshares activists, which begins Monday morning with the sentencing (by video conference) of Elizabeth McAlister, who founded Jonah House in Baltimore with her late husband Phil Berrigan.

The elderly man who Buffalo police shoved to the sidewalk and lay bleeding from his head has been identified as Martin Gugino.
Gugino is a long-time peace activist and recently made a series of video statements about the sentencing of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists who entered a major nuclear weapons facility on April 4, 2018, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination to “nonviolently, symbolically disarm” the weapons there.

The support group for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 states that the Catholic Worker activists, after entering the nuclear weapons facility in Georgia “then split into three groups and prayed, prayerfully and symbolically poured blood, spray-painted messages of disarming nuclear weapons and to love one another. They hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles, hung banners quoting Dr. King, ‘the ultimate logic of racism is genocide’ and another naming the ominicidal logic of Trident. The seven waited to be arrested.”

One of them, Father Steven Kelly, remains in jail. Others, like McAlister, have spent over 17 months in jail prior to trial with little media attention and is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. ET Monday. The unusual sentencing will take place by video conferencing while she remains at home in Connecticut. For public access to audio of this hearing, dial 1-888-684-8852, enter the call access code 2296092 and enter the security code 1234.

The group reports that “Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, was granted an adjournment and given a new date on June 29, 3:30 p.m. in Brunswick, Georgia.”

The other activists — Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Mark Colville, Carmen Trotta, and Kelly — have asked for an adjournment “and were given June 29 and 30 as their new dates to appear with no times specified yet. They were not told whether they’ll be allowed to be sentenced in person in open court or whether they’ll have to travel to Brunswick to be sentenced remotely by video once they get there.”

In one of his videos supporting Mark Colville and other Plowshares activists, Gugino addresses the federal court in Brunswick, Georgia where Colville is awaiting sentencing in support. Gugino cites Martin Luther King’s belief that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Gugino added: “What he doesn’t say there, is that it doesn’t bend itself; we have to bend it. We have to go out into the culture and act justly, act morally, do good, and little by little it will bend the culture towards justice. And some of the time, the culture doesn’t want to be bent, and so there will be conflict, and that’s just part of it. And Martin Luther King knew very well the possibilities.”

A year ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Prize winners wrote to Attorney General William Barr asking the charges against the activists be dropped. Instead, at their trial in October, the prosecution and judge prevented the activists from mounting a series of defenses, including presenting a justification or necessity defense with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg testifying on their behalf — or invoking international law. The prosecution and judge even effectively kept the reality of the nuclear weapons at the base from the jury. The activists were convicted on October 24 to minimal major media coverage.

Interviews are available with:
MARK COLVILLE, markcolville9761 at gmail.com, @amistadobrero
One of the seven Plowshares activists, Colville is co-founder of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven with his wife Luz Catarineau. He used a hammer made from melted-down guns to smash parts of a shrine to nuclear weapons at the facility. In late December, the New Haven Register wrote: “For their sustained, compassionate approach to building and supporting their community and for their lived opposition to war and violence, the Colvilles are the New Haven Register’s Persons of the Year.”

More information and interviews with other Plowshares activists are available via the group’s extensive website and via the media team:

Bill Ofenloch, billcpf at aol.com, @kingsbayplow7
Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08 at gmail.com