Jun 17 2016

2016 Sister House Retreat

2Group.0772 Each year the 13 LACW Sister Houses get together for our annual retreat at La Casa de Maria Retreat Center in Montecito, near Santa Barbara. This year because of scheduling difficulties, we gathered on Memorial Day weekend rather than in the Fall. This year 40 Catholic Workers from around the nation, and Mexico, gathered to listen to presentations from this year’s facilitators, Willa Bickham and Brendan Walsh from Viva House Catholic Worker in Baltimore, MD, and to socialize, pray, sing, relax, and just have a good time. We remembered our brothers who are in prison and jail: Jeff Dietrich, David Omondi, Dennis Apel, and Faustino Cruz, as well as the two we lost in the past year: Dan Delany (co-founder of the LACW) and Fr. Daniel Berrigan, SJ. See photos HERE.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/06/17/2016-sister-house-retreat

Jun 14 2016

Dorothy Day Refuses To Duck And Cover

Dorothy Day This LINK is to a short article about Dorothy Day’s resistance to civil defense drills back in the 1950s and early 1960s, specifically June 15, 1955–61 years ago.

An excerpt:
“In this particular case, Operation Alert was a nationwide, mandated, legally enforced drill. Dorothy Day, fellow Catholic Workers and other pacifists informed the media that they would disobey the law, and refused to evacuate public spaces and work places for the proscribed fifteen-minute period. Instead, they sat on park benches in City Hall Park, quietly praying and meditating. All 27 – and a shoeshine man who was taken into custody by mistake – were arrested. They were branded murderers by their judge, who accused them of being responsible for the simulated deaths of three million New Yorkers.”

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/06/14/dorothy-day-refuses-to-duck-and-cover

Jun 13 2016

June 2016 Agitator

Front Cover June 2016 Here is the JUNE Catholic Agitator.

In This Issue:

    • Fleas On Pharaoh’s Ear: Daniel Berrigan & Jeff Dietrich by Theresea de Vroom
    • Death Has No Dominion by Steve Kelly, SJ.
    • Inspired By An Extraordinary Woman by Megan Ramsey
    • Rejecting Imperial Violence by Rev. John Dear
    • Catholic Worker Letters From Prison by Jeff Dietrich & David Omondi
    • Dorothy Day: Love In Action Reviewed by Mike Wisniewski
    • Breaking The Shackles Of Racism by Sandi Huckaby

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/06/13/june-2016-agitator

Jun 10 2016

Manuel Hernandez Fundraiser For Casa Colibri In Mexico

Casa Colibri Card Web

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/06/10/manuel-hernandez-fundraiser-for-casa-colibri-in-mexico

May 31 2016

Old And On The Street: The Graying Of America’s Homeless

Elderly_Homeless This LINK is to a New York Times article on elderly homeless in Los Angeles, some of who are guests at our soup kitchen, and includes an interview with our longtime friend, Alice Callaghan.

An excerpt: “They lean unsteadily on canes and walkers, or roll along the sidewalks of Skid Row here in beat-up wheelchairs, past soiled sleeping bags, swaying tents and piles of garbage. They wander the streets in tattered winter coats, even in the warmth of spring. They worry about the illnesses of age and how they will approach death without the help of children who long ago drifted from their lives.

It is the emergence of an older homeless population that is creating daunting challenges for social service agencies and governments already struggling with this crisis of poverty. “Baby boomers have health and vulnerability issues that are hard to tend to while living in the streets,” said Alice Callaghan, an Episcopal priest who has spent 35 years working with the homeless in Los Angeles.

Horace Allong, 60, said he could not afford a one-room apartment and lives in a tent on Crocker Street. Mr. Allong, who divorced his wife and left New Orleans for Los Angeles two years ago, said he lost his wallet and all of his identification two weeks after he arrived and has not been able to find a job.

“It’s the first time I’ve been on the streets, so I’m learning,” he said. “There’s nothing like Skid Row. Skid Row is another world.””

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/05/31/old-and-on-the-street-the-graying-of-americas-homeless

May 26 2016

Have You Been To Jail For Justice?

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We at the LACW have taken to singing this song at our liturgies and at other times since it keeps our three brothers, Jeff, Dennis, and David, who are currently serving two to four months in federal prison for the cause of peace and justice ever present and it places their witness into proper context.

Listen to the song HAVE YOU BEEN TO JAIL FOR JUSTICE?
(Anne Feeney)

Was it Cesar Chavez, maybe it was Dorothy Day
Some say Dr. King or Ghandi
Set them on their way
No matter who your mentors are
It’s pretty plain to see
if you’ve been to jail for justice
You’re in good company

Have you been to jail for justice?
I want to shake your hand
Sitting in and laying down
Are ways to take a stand
Have you sung a song for freedom
Or marched that picket line?
Have you been to jail for justice?
Oh you’re a friend of mine

You law abiding citizens
Listen to this song
Laws are made by people
And people can be wrong
Once unions were against the law
But slavery was fine
Women were denied the vote
And children worked the mine
The more you study history
The less you can deny it
A rotten law stays on the books
’til folks with guts defy it!

Have you been to jail for justice?
I want to shake your hand
Sitting in and laying down
Are ways to take a stand
Have you sung a song for freedom
Or marched that picket line?
Have you been to jail for justice?
Oh you’re a friend of mine

Now the law is supposed to serve us
And so are the police
When that system fails
It’s up to us to speak our piece
It takes eternal vigilance
For justice to prevail
So get courage from your convictions
Let ’em haul you off to jail!

Have you been to jail for justice?
I want to shake your hand
Sitting in and laying down
Are ways to take a stand
Have you sung a song for freedom
Or marched that picket line?
Have you been to jail for justice?
Will you go to jail for justice?
Have you been to jail for justice?
Oh you’re a friend of mine

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/05/26/have-you-been-to-jail-for-justice

May 21 2016

Josephine’s Daughter Maria Elsa At Four Months

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Maria and mom Former LACW community member Josephine Burns sent us photo’s of her nearly four-month-old daughter Maria. Wow! How quickly she is growing. We look forward to the day when we can meet her in person.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/05/21/josephines-daughter-maria-elsa-at-four-months

May 16 2016

Jeff’s Photo Used For L.A. Times Article On Homelessness

157817.ME.0407.Skid-Row.IK This LINK is to an Los Angeles Times article relating to Governor Jerry Brown’s commitment to back $2-billion plan to ease homelessness across California. Time will tell if this plan will bear fruit and help the 50,000 people homeless in Los Angeles. Previous plans were merely Public Relations ploys, all hype.

ALSO:
This LINK is to a short video that explains that there is enough money to end homelessness and it is only one vote away in Los Angeles County!

This Tuesday, May 17, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will be voting on two motions that could end homelessness in L.A. County. The motions would create a ballot initiative that could generate $100s of millions a year for housing and services. The motions failed to win a majority last week, and this Tuesday may be the last vote.

Please call your Supervisor and tell them to vote yes on Items 1 & 5.

District 1: 213-974-4111
District 2: 213-974-2222
District 3: 213-974-3333
District 4: 213-974-4444
District 5: 213-974-5555

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/05/16/jeffs-photo-used-for-l-a-times-article-on-homelessness

May 10 2016

Hospitality Kitchen (AKA Hippie Kitchen) Closed From May 27 through 29

Emily - Maria Chop_6066 Our soup kitchen will be closed from Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29. The LACW will be attending our annual Sister House Retreat at La Casa de Maria Retreat Center, near Santa Barbara. Each year Catholic Workers in our Sister House Network (Catholic Worker Houses founded by former LACW community members) get together for an annual retreat for spiritual renewal, some relaxation, fellowship, liturgy, and partying. This year’s facilitators will be longtime Catholic Workers Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham from Viva House Catholic Worker in Baltimore. We will return to our normal schedule on Tuesday, May 31.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/05/10/hospitality-kitchen-aka-hippie-kitchen-closed-from-may-27-through-29

May 04 2016

Jeff, David, & Dennis Apel Are In Jail – Updates Now Posted Below

Holding Banner.6693 May 3: Jeff Dietrich and David Omondi have self-surrendered to federal authorities and are now being held at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC). It is still unknown if this will be the facility where each will serve their sentence (Jeff – 4 months, David – 2 months). It is possible that one or both will be transferred to another facility. As soon as we know more it will be posted here. Dennis Apel of the Guadalupe Catholic Worker will self-surrender on Monday, May 9, also to serve a four month sentence.

You can check Jeff, David, and Dennis’ status at this LINK. For Jeff enter: Robert J Dietrich (#81196-012), for David enter: Michael David Omondi (#94638-020), for Dennis enter: John D. Apel (#26142-112).
 
If you care to write a letter of support, follow this guideline:
INMATE NAME & REGISTER NUMBER
MDC Los Angeles
P.O. BOX 1500
LOS ANGELES, CA 90053

You can read the rules for sending items at this LINK.

 

UPDATE JUNE 17: Below is a letter from Dennis.

Dear Family and friends,

I thought it was time for an update. I am a couple of weeks away from the halfway point of my time here in prison. I would not say that I am completely acclimated but I have settled in somewhat and there is a semblance of a routine. As you know Jeff Dietrich my long-time friend and co-defendant is my cell mate. This brings me much joy as we are very comfortable with each other and that relieves the tension of living in a strange environment with someone with whom I may have not much in common.

I work now five days a week in “food service” from 12:30 till 6:30. I spend that time three floors down in the dish washing room/kitchen. All meals here are served on yellowish plastic trays with a dark brown plastic container/insert for the hot food. There are close to 800 inmates in the prison so there are a lot of trays and containers to wash. My crew washes all the dishes from both lunch and dinner. In between the lunch and dinner washings, we load the trays we have cleaned from lunch with the cold food for dinner. Someone else has already loaded the brown inserts with the hot food. It’s staggering how much food is not eaten and ends up in the garbage. This is partly because of the food choices the prison makes which the inmates don’t like and partly because the preparation and presentation sometimes leave a lot to be desired.

Not to be completely negative, however, it’s important to notice that in an intuition that often feels so dehumanizing and in a culture that is so racially divided, any act of kindness that breaks through is highly appreciated. For example the man who saw me shivering as I read a book outside my cell and gave me and extra sweatshirt he happened to have. Or the man who heard I was to be visited on the weekend and offered to cut my hair so I would look good for my family. Or the man who saw me reading a novel and came and offered me the two sequels to that novel. Or the guard late on a Friday evening who, when he heard that Tensie and the children had not been approved to visit after almost a month, went and talked to the unit manager to see if she could expedite approval. These are the beams of light that break through the darkness to bring me hope and gratitude.

I have received lots of cards and letters from family and friends and loved ones and for that I am also so grateful. It’s hard to describe how slowly time passes here and the well wishes and news from outside are a welcome break. My sincere thanks to all who have written and especially to all who have given such extraordinary support to Tensie and Rozella and Thomas.

The first two weeks I was here I attended Mass but the priest has gone for the summer so no more Mass. But Jeff and I have been doing our own little in-cell Bible study at night after lock down and that has been such a gift. We also share books we have received with one another and correspondence from mutual friends.

So….I hope that gives you some idea of how things are going. I feel safe and am held by your love, prayers and support. Thank you so much. And please don’t forget that I am here for all of us as a witness against the scourge of nuclear weapons which need to be abolished once and for all from the face of the earth. Let us continue to pray and to act to rid the world of such weapons.

My love,
Dennis

UPDATE JUNE 15: David was released into a halfway house in the Los Angeles area where he will spend the rest of his time–14 days–before being fully released. He cannot leave the premises unless he is going to look for a job, which he is not. But he can sit outside and enjoy the outdoors. This LINK is to a letter he wrote a few days ago before being transfered.

UPDATE JUNE 13: David is doing well and is in countdown mode–18 days left. Jeff also is doing well and busy with letter writing. Dennis’ new blog post with the Santa Barbara Independent is now posted at this LINK, despite orders from prison officials not to send the newspaper anymore blog posts. We will see what, if anything, will happen to him. Keep writing support letters to them.

UPDATE JUNE 4: Jeff is doing OK, although he had some issues with his legs and knees relating to the work to which he and Dennis were assigned, but some pain meds and being able to take short rest periods have helped. Also, for an unknown reason his phone privileges were suspended until June 19. Both he and Catherine are really bummed. Fortunately they are now able to e-mail each other.

Below are letters from David and Dennis:

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the name of the Great Spirit that guides our steps regardless of our consciousness thereof. Despite continual changes in my housing situation, a spirit of love, compassion, and acceptance remains continually present with me, thanks in no small part to the support and prayers of family and friends around the world. Thank-you all so much for the grace and blessing you continue to share with me as I endeavor to remain present in each moment and share this grace with those around me. With the passing of Muhammad Ali last night, his spirit and words of resistance are also present with me – “I refuse to go 10,000 miles from here to help murder and kill other poor people, simply to continue the domination of white slave masters over the darker peoples of the earth.” Being in the BOP brings a keen awareness of this continued domination, of the lies, misinformation, and exploitation that upholds the “shit-stem”, and a unique opportunity to be present to the truth and light that shines from each of its victims.

Having heard from afar afield as NY regarding a letter I sent on May 23, Kempachi’s story, I feel a need to clarify certain aspects to a wider audience – if only to stem the flow of disparaging mail that has come my way since then. First of all, please understand that the letter was not meant for publication without prior verification – that was insisted upon by Kempachi, and I had hoped that this might be possible within a short time frame (May 25) for the Nuclear Resister, and if not by then, then anticipated undertaking the task myself upon my release, being totally unequipped to do so from this side of of the steel bars. Neither Kempachi or myself, ever claimed to be nuclear scientists, but I’m pretty sure we were both speaking of “enriched uranium” as opposed to “active” – despite incorrect terminology, and neither of us are certain about the correct name or spelling of what he referred to as “thryntium.” Secondly, please understand, as I wrote that Kempachi can go on at length about the pitfalls of the nuclear age. Being that he is quite empassioned about the matter and these pitfalls by far not confined to VAFB, he has a tendency to overwhelm the listener with information that can be hard to follow – especially given the unconventional syntax he employs as English is his second language. Third, the urgency with which I wrote arose from the knowledge that if we were to share his story, I needed to get it down in a timely manner given the BOP’s tendency to move people without warning and the possibility that we would be separated any day, and to do so in a way that would at least be pliable later on, while retaining the essence of his experience.

In spite of the shortcomings of that little missive, the truth of Kempachi’s story is nonetheless compelling. It is quite instructive as to the tendency of the nuclear empire to conceal and distort facts, to arrogantly claim a level of competence it simply does not possess, to employ state apparatus to prevent exposure and silence opposition by any means necessary, and to continue to victimize the poor and brown people’s of the Earth, as well as it’s own populace, in doing all of the above. I trust that this truth shines through despite “wrong facts” as some have written. And I hope that Kempachi’s story can at least inspire some reflection as to the ways in which we are all complicit in allowing the empire to continue these practices of distortion, pollution, and victimization – whether it be through the blind acceptance of the dominant narrative, the paying of taxes, or the laying aside of our personal responsibility to remain alert and truthful in these times of distraction and misinformation.

As it turns out, my sense of imminent separation from Kempachi was not unfounded, as it was on May 25 that I was moved down to 5 South from the relative comfort of 6 North. This is quite a mish-mash of a housing unit, with a decidedly more “prison-like” atmosphere, but still pales in comparison to other spots I’ve been privileged to experience in the BOP. Alot of the inmates here have violated children or compromised their co-conspirators, others require alot of special medical facilities and attention (wheelchairs, dialysis etc.), some are openly gay or bisexual, some have been recently released from the SHU for conflicts on other floors. Essentially, it’s a floor that houses folks who would/have faced challenges integrating in general population, but also an “overflow” for 5 North – the work floor to which inmates designated to MDC’s Cadre are meant to be housed, which is the category under which I now fall. There are certain benefits to being here – most notably the lack of overt prison politics that prevents certain forms of interaction between different groups of inmates, but there are drawbacks as well. It’s not particularly clean and COs don’t like working here so they tend to be harsher and more restrictive of certain privileges, even abusive in some cases. But there are still plenty of opportunities to serve, to accept service from others, and to find meaningful interactions.

No telling what the future may hold – both the case manager and the counselor have indicated that my time is too short for them to consider moving me across the hall or putting me to work, but the case manager on the other side gave a strong indication to the contrary at an orientation session on 5 North which I was required to participate in. Meanwhile on 5 South, my first cell mate moved over to 5 North – after much grumpiness and irritability regarding being stuck on this floor and the lack of his property which had not yet arrived from Beaumont – affording me a couple nights of solitude and the chance to do some much needed deep cleaning. Just in time to welcome a new cell mate (after late night lockdown – very unusual) who the CO informed me was in need of a good celly given his obvious apprehension at being in the BOP for the first time. So once again I find myself in a position to offer some basic supplies and comfort in terms of orientation and creating a peaceful, co-operative atmosphere in the cell. Chris is indeed in need of prayer – stressed about what he deems as unfounded charges from the feds, and his subsequent separation from a 9-year old son, he has spent the past 48 hours either in a state of panic or sleep. Keep us both in your prayers as we continue to navigate the unpredictable waters of the BOP. While I would certainly enjoy the opportunity to commune with Dennis and Jeff across the hall, I am still content and remain open to whatever the universe has in store for me. Thank-you again to all who continue to share love and support with Dennis, Jeff and myself.

With Gratitude, Love and Blessings
David Omondi

Dear Family and Friends,

Here is a little update on the goings on here.

As you know, Jeff and I are cell mates and we are so grateful. I had a decision to make this week. I have been writing a column for the Santa Barbara Independent but I was contacted by the prison to say they would prefer that I not write about the prison until my release in September. I could continue, but it would significantly delay my correspondence as it would require “extra monitoring.” After consulting with my community, I have decided to continue the column and let the chips fall where they may. Hopefully this won’t have a huge effect on my emails or letters.

Jeff and I were given our work assignments this week. We are working the afternoon Food Service job which for us so far has meant 5 hours of scrubbing the bottoms of pans with a wire brush on the first day, and washing stainless steel carts and stacking plastic lids the second day. I have a day off today and tomorrow and Jeff has Sunday and Monday off.

I have been receiving lots of letters and books and am grateful for all the support. Someone asked the question about what is allowed to come through so I will respond on this list for others who may want to know.

I can receive books when sent from a publisher, a book store or Amazon. No books sent by individuals. I can receive letters, either hand written or typed. I can receive cards. I can receive pictures but I think there is a limit but I don’t know what it is. So far I have received up to two photos in a letter. All have been computer printed on paper, but I think I am allowed regular pictures. Although I have received post cards, Tensie sent me a blank post card enclosed with a letter and it was all returned to her. No blank post cards. I believe newspaper clippings are okay.

We have been trying to get Tensie approved for visiting so that her and the kids can come but have not prevailed. It is unclear where the hang up is in the bureaucracy but we will keep trying.

If you have written and not received a response, please be patient and know that I am so grateful for your love and support.

I am now about 3 months from my release date. I have yet to have my “Team Meeting” to discuss the plans for me, but I believe that will happen soon.

You are all in my thoughts and prayers and I am so grateful for you and for the support you have given to Tensie and the children.

All my love,
Dennis

UPDATE MAY 30: This LINK is to the third in a series of reflections by Dennis published in the Santa Barbara Independent.

Below is a note Dennis wrote:

Dear Friends and Family,

Today marks 20 days that I have been in prison. It’s been a long 20 days and it is a discipline not to dwell on the notion that I have to do that 5 more times. One day at a time is the best strategy and being present to the moment seems to be the recipe for sanity.

I tried being on the “no flesh” diet for a little over two weeks. But instead of meat items on my tray, I received a portion of chopped celery and carrots mixed with raw tofu. That was served with every lunch and dinner except for four. It got to the point that I was dreading meals, not a good thing in prison. So I switched back to the regular diet, not that it’s fine cuisine, but at least there’s something different every meal.

I went to Mass twice, two Mondays in a row, which was nourishing but the priest is gone now until September so no more Mass. I am grateful to be doing daily Bible study with my friend and cell mate, Jeff.

I have been getting incredible support via letters and books and again I want to say that if you haven’t gotten a response from me it’s because envelopes and stamps are rationed. But please know that I am so grateful for your love and affirmation extended to me and Tensie and the kids.

I have calmed down considerably regarding the other inmates and my sense of safety. It helps having Jeff as my cell mate, but also it is just acclimation to the environment. Thank you all for your prayers, love and support. I love you too…

Dennis

UPDATE MAY 26: David has been moved from 6 North to 5 South and he was officially designated to MDC to serve his sentence. He said that he should be on 5 North (with Jeff and Dennis), but it is full, and since his time is short, it is doubtful that he will end up there. David also was able to get the confusion about the length of his sentence straightened out. He will be released after serving 60 days. He also said that he still can see us on our Wednesday afternoon anti-war vigil (we have a slow procession around the entire downtown federal complex), but now he can observe us on the opposite side of the building.

UPDATE MAY 23: This LINK is to Dennis’ second reflection published in the Santa Barbara Independent.

Below is a reflection David wrote for The Nuclear Resister.
Dear Friends,

While writing this I am continually lifted by the support and prayers of so many on the outside, inspired by the appearance of the Full Moon, Mars, and Sagittarius in my cell window over the last three nights, and encouraged that the forces of Love and Life will prevail over our many perversions of justice. It has been my great pleasure to meet someone here on 6 North MDC LA who has quite a storied relationship with VAFB. Using the alias “Kempachi”, we both would like to share some of this story with you:

“YOU! DON’T MOVE!” Yelled the Lieutenant at a bewildered Kempachi. “Get him out of here, NOW! Didn’t you check his file?!” And the confounded CO’s in VAFB’s “work factory” begin to escort him back to his unit at Lompoc Prison as he feigns a lack of English skills. The astounding levels of incompetence that allowed Kempachi into the factory in the first place are not surprising, considering the ease with which he had hacked into the base’s supposedly impenetrable mainframe computer system not too long ago. His incredible acumen with electronics and ability to encode and decode complex software with rudimentary appliances should have been a red flag to anyone on VAFB who might have perused his background.

These were pre-internet times, but the Video Cipher 3 security system on VAFB poised no challenge to Kempachi, who was able to penetrate it quite easily – on a dare from a fellow tech wiz – and send the base a message: “STOP KILLING CHILDREN.” He was not an activist or social justice advocate, just a jet-set, genius playboy carrying out an entertaining ruse. But when a third party heard of a reward for information on the transgressors, it wasn’t long before the federal security apparatus located the co-conspirators and found whatever charge that would stick, tax fraud, in order to lock them up. During his 18 months of incarceration at Lompoc, Kempachi spent a significant amount of time in the hole for refusing to work for the base in any way.

Now, over 20 years later, Kempachi is convinced that the same levels of incompetence still exist on VAFB and warns that it’s just a matter of time before their irresponsible practices precipitate an epic disaster on a nuclear scale. He is well aware of their use of depleted Uranium in the testing of nuclear weapons and finds their target practice exercises quite despicable as they contaminate the waters of the Pacific Ocean and wreak havoc on the people of the Marshall Islands. Not only is the term “depleted” a serious misnomer – the stuff still has a half life of 10,000 years – the B5 rockets used in VAFB’s launches are well known for having seal problems, and he warns that the base is courting serious catastrophe in their employ.

Further, VAFB possesses both the depleted and active variety of Uranium, both of which have to be cooled constantly. Situated on the coast, the ocean is the most convenient source of water for this purpose, which is either expelled back into the ocean or into the ground. In his words, non-contamination of this water is simply impossible. Although base officials claim that the levels of radiation escaping their facility are “safe”, Kempachi has learned through his own explorations that most of the patients treated at Lompoc General Hospital suffer from cancer of the kidney and liver. Meanwhile, the base is highly secretive about the ailments treated at their own internal hospital.

Now on trial for charges that include fraud and manufacturing of an illegal access device, he once again finds himself the victim of a snitch who was caught using one of his complex encoding devices to commit bank fraud. And despite dedicating the last 15 years of his life to voluntary service projects in places like Kenya and El Salvador, donating thousands for free water and education projects, the Assistant DA in his case is on the record as saying “Whatever charge I give you will be equal to life because you have to be locked up until technology changes,” and the judge too has declared “I know who you are and I wish I could give you life.”

Kempachi can go on unceasingly about the pitfalls of the nuclear age – over budget power plants constantly leaking, the military’s inexplicable use of Uranium tipped anti-aircraft bullets, the disposal of Thryntium into the environment (which causes kidney/liver damage and other untold ailments) – the list is quite lengthy. With VAFB’S adjacency to the ocean and proximity to extensive field agriculture and livestock industries, his warnings are indeed foreboding. His story is a real testament to the indiscriminate violence of the nuclear empire, and lends great credence to the acts of vigilers, protesters, resisters and truth-tellers all around the world. This insanity must end. Now.

KEMPACHI, and David Omondi

UPDATE MAY 21: Jeff is doing good. He spends most of his time either reading, writing, exercising, or in prayer. The next Agitator will include some of Jeff’s writing.

This is a LETTER from David. David is still trying to deal with a mix up between the court’s sentence of two months and what the B.O.P. computer lists as six month sentence. An attorney friend of the LACW will again attempt to get this mix up corrected.

This LINK is to the first in a series of reflections by Dennis published in the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper. Below is another note from Dennis:

Dear family and friends,

I have “served” ten of my 120 days. If I can do that another 11 times, I will have made it. By some extraordinary stroke of luck or grace, I have ended up in a cell with my long-time friend and co-defendant Jeff Dietrich of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker. If all goes well, we will be spending most of our 4 months of custody in each other’ company. What a gift and a miracle!

After about four days here my mail began to filter in. Thank you if you have written. I am only allowed to purchase 10 envelopes per week, so apologies if you have written and not gotten a response. Know that your love and support mean the world to me.

I can now communicate with Tensie and the kids by phone. That too is limited to 15 minutes per call (5 minutes to talk to each of them) and 300 minutes per month (a little less than 10 minutes per day). I’ve had word from some who have shown Tensie and the kids incredible kindness, especially those in the Beatitude Community. It brings me so much comfort and gratitude that good friends and family are supporting them. It’s not easy for them either.

Please know that I hold you all in my prayers of gratitude.

Much love,

Dennis

UPDATE MAY 18: At 9am today, Jeff was moved to the fifth floor and is now cellmates with Dennis. Rumor has it that David too will soon be moved to the same area. All will remain there for the duration of their sentence. Jeff is doing well, even better now that he and Dennis are reunited. David said he yearns to be with them. Jeff sent Catherine the signed form for her to be able to visit him; and he finally has the phone voice recognition issue resolved and is now calling on a regular schedule. He still has not seen the dentist for his toothache, but he has plenty of pain meds, which has helped a lot. He wants everyone to know he is safe and comfortable and is grateful for all the love and prayers.

UPDATE MAY 17: David lost his cellmate this morning (transferred to another floor), which allows him space and quiet, which is what he needs at the moment since he is having major lower back pain. He asks for prayers that the pain will subside.

Dennis Apel sent the following note:
Dear Friends,

Today marks one week (is that all?!!) since I arrived at MDC. It’s been quite a transition. Every time someone asks how long I’m in for and I respond, “four months” I get a reply something like, “Oh man! That’s nothing. That’s a breeze!” But THIS breeze is movin’ real slow.

It’s a difficult environment (I’m not complaining, that’s just the reality). There is a common area with 7 tables of eight (steel seats bolted to the floor), 4 TVs going simultaneously (no sound…you have to get a radio receiver with headphone to hear them), a microwave, and ice maker and a hot water dispenser. Most guys make meals from food they buy from the commissary (paid for with money on their books). Off the common room are 4 halls with cells lining both sides of them. Each cell has 2 bunks, a sink, a toilet and a locker. Everyone has a cell mate and there are 130 guys on the floor. All inmates are locked in their cells from 8:30 pm till 5:00 am when we are awakened and have about 60 seconds to get to breakfast. The cells are open most of the rest of the day and time can be spent in the common area or in the cell. Since there are 130 of us and only 56 seats, we are called to meals by “ranges” 4 ranges matching the four halls. By unwritten agreement, the 7 tables are assigned by race, 1 table for whites (the race with the fewest #s), 1 table for the “ChoMos” (the child molesters) and the other 5 divided between Blacks and Latinos. There are 8 common showers. There is a small outside deck for exercise or getting some fresh air.

The hardest parts are the constant din of 130 men yelling, guards yelling, the explosion of testosterone (I am by a long shot the scrawniest one here), the racial divides and sometimes tensions, and more than anything, the separation from family and friends.

So……why am I here???? I’m here because of a combination of conviction and stubbornness. Before I got here I would have told myself it’s mostly conviction, but the transition is so stark (scary even) that the whole environment conspires to convince me that conviction had less to do with this than stubbornness that my ego has betrayed me.

so….here is where you come in. You hold me. You support me. You hold my family and we all hold each other. Once I was able to communicate with them, my family brought me back to myself. Because, there IS a conviction, one that comes from faith and a desire for discipleship. Nuclear weapons are an atrocity beyond measure, and we cannot look the other way. I am not here for myself but for all of us. You are not there for me, but for all of us. We all have a role to play in the struggle to rid the world of nuclear weapons. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your prayers, your love, and your support for me, Tensie, the kids, Jorge, and Beatitude House. We are the Body of Christ, we all have our part, and we all have each other, and I am grateful.

I am praying for you daily. Thank you, thank you. Love is the answer…

Dennis

UPDATE MAY 11: Catherine received a letter from Jeff today since he is having difficulties with the voice recognition system involved with the phones. He is well, has a cellmate, whose name is Wolverine, with a heart of gold and loves to share all that he has, however, he likes to talk–unceasingly. Jeff enjoys solitude while in jail, so they are trying to strike a balance. He is on the ninth floor, which is puzzling since that floor is normally for hardcore felons.

Have yet to hear from Dennis.

David is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. He has taken to e-mailing a few of us, but more so his family in Kenya. He is on the sixth floor and has a window where he can see us while we are on our Wednesday vigil, although we were unable to see him.

All three cannot have visitors except for immediate family. Once transferred to the fifth floor, that will change. The fifth floor is minimum security, where the other floors range from low to maximum security. Hence, they would love to receive mail from all who would care to write. If you have some time, please sit down and write to them, the address can be found below. Thank you.

UPDATE May 9: Guadalupe Catholic Worker Dennis Apel has now turned himself in to federal authorities and is also being housed at MDC Los Angeles, the same facility as Jeff and David. If you care to check on Dennis’ status, enter: John D. Apel #26142-112 at this LINK. To write to him use the same address listed below.

Jeff was able to make a very brief phone call this morning. He had enough time to say he has tooth ache and has yet to see a dentist with no indication when that will happen. His publisher sent him some books last week, but he said he received a notice saying they were returned because she sent more than allowed and thus all were considered contraband. The call then was cut off.

David again called and said that he again briefly saw Jeff this morning in passing and Jeff looked well. David also asked for more money to be deposited in his account to help his cellmate, who is in a state of depression. He has no money and has not had contact with family in several months, and David wants to help him.

UPDATE May 5: We found out why Jeff has not yet called. They have yet to give him his “PAC” number, which allows an inmate to access the phones, purchase items from the commissary, and access the computer to see how much money is in their account, among other tasks. Our attorney visited both Jeff and David today to see how they were and if all was okay. He agreed to push the BOP to get Jeff his PAC number, which he should have received on the first day within four hours after being processed in.

David called and said he is okay, getting settled in, and was able to purchase long underwear because he has an A/C duct directly above his bed, which makes it exceedingly cold between midnight and 5am.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/05/04/jeff-david-are-in-jail

May 01 2016

Daniel Berrigan, SJ – PRESENTE!

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dan berrigan cuffed Longtime anti-nuclear and anti-war activist, peacemaker, poet, author, and friend and mentor to the LACW, among many others, and certainly one of the the most prophetic and profound voices in the Catholic Church and Catholic Peace Movement, Fr. Dan Berrigan, SJ, joined his equally as prophetic brother Phil, in the heavenly cloud of witnesses on Saturday, April 30, at age 94. See stories at this LINK, this LINK, this LINK, and this LINK. Watch a video about Dan & Phil by authors Murray Polner & Jim O’Grady HERE.
 

 

Watch an hour long tribute to Dan, including interviews with Dan and others, on Democracy Now, click on this LINK.

DAN BERRIGAN: PRESENTE!

To watch a short video of Dan’s funeral procession from the New York Catholic Worker to the Church Of St. Francis Xavier, where the funeral took place, click this LINK, with a photo page that follows. To watch a short video of the funeral Mass, with eulogy, click this LINK. To watch a short recap of the procession and funeral, with interviews, click this LINK.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/05/01/daniel-berrigan-sj-presente

Apr 29 2016

Free Immigration Legal Clinic

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Immigrants The LACW adopted parish, Dolores Mission Church, offers a FREE legal clinic that can assist people who are eligible to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. The legal clinic is open on Wednesdays, from 2:30 – 5pm. Dolores Mission Church is located at 171 S. Gless St., Los Angeles, 90033. Phone number is 323-881-0039. The legal team from Loyola Marymount Law School can help with other immigration issues as well. If you or someone you know needs legal assistance for immigration issues, do not hesitate to contact the legal team. The person who answers the phone is bilingual.

Permanent link to this article: http://lacatholicworker.org/2016/04/29/free-immigration-legal-clinic

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