Monday, April 22, 2013

Peace activists march on Palm Sunday

By Michael Gillespie, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 

Freezing temperatures and light snow in Des Moines did not deter Palm Sunday Peace Procession marchers on March 24. About 100 Iowa activists gathered at the Capitol and marched through downtown to the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Paul. 

“Overcoming fear and embracing peace are the themes of the procession this year,” said Rev. Robert Cook, retired Presbytery of Des Moines minister and missionary to El Salvador. 

“It is easy for government to instill fear in the minds of the people, but Jesus told his followers that he was leaving peace for them. He said, ‘Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be Afraid.’ We need to pay attention to that,” Cook told the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs as marchers unfurled banners in preparation for the procession. 

“America’s energy should not be focused on military actions,” said Ashley Walker, Secretary of Veterans For Peace Chapter 163 and member of the Des Moines Catholic Worker. 

“We don’t need to be at war. We need to bring our troops home. We don’t need to spread violence and hatred throughout the world,” declared Walker. 

Bob Brammer of the Catholic Peace Ministry responds to questions from 
a TV news crew as marchers gather for the annual Palm Sunday Procession  
for Peace.      (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs/Michael Gillespie)

Des Moines Catholic Worker Julie Brown spoke excitedly about her recent experience in occupied Palestine. 

“Jessica Reznicek and I trained with the Michigan Peace Team. We spent a month in Qasra and traveled throughout the West Bank. The people there are just amazing, so hospitable. But the daily oppression and violence — no person should have to live that way,” said Brown before the march. 

Bob Brammer said he came to the annual Peace Procession to represent the Catholic Peace Ministry and STAR*PAC. 

“This is a chance to remember the real roots of Palm Sunday as a statement for peace for all people, including the poor. It’s a chance for us in Des Moines to say, ‘We don’t want drones. We want peace. War is not the answer,” said Brammer, retired communications director for the office of the Iowa Attorney General. 

“It’s a street demonstration for peace,” said Des Moines Catholic worker founder Frank Cordaro. 

“It’s about space, location, and risk. We’re occupying the same space and location as Jesus did for his capital city of Jerusalem, but we’re doing it in Des Moines. What we’re lacking is the risk, because it’s legal and acceptable,” said Cordaro, noting the Des Moines Police Department escort vehicles. 

“Until we bridge the gap between our protest and the risk that Jesus took, and not uncommon in the world we live in, this will just be what it is, a nice little outing,” said Cordaro, making light of the cold and snow. 

“I’m a follower of Jesus. I don’t belong to any special group,” said David Costello with a laugh. 

“I have a passion for peace, and I don’t think there’s a better way to spend Passion Sunday,” said Costello. 

Irene Hardisty said she was marching for peace to represent Plymouth Congregational Church. 

“I too, have a passion for peace — peace, love, and joy. People need to think about peace before we take action on things,” said Hardisty. 

Rev. Cook provided the reflection during the service at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. 

The Palm Sunday Procession and Service for Peace was sponsored by the Des Moines Area Ecumenical Committee for Peace. American Friends Service Committee-Iowa, Methodist Federation for Social Action—Iowa, Des Moines Catholic Worker, Veterans For Peace Chapter 163, Catholic Peace Ministry, and other area churches and religious organizations were co-sponsors.

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