Priest and Activist Arrested While Praying at US-MX Border

photo credit: Fr. Bob Carney

This news story is about one of the most wonderful human beings I've ever met: John Heid. I'm proud to call him my friend.

A Catholic priest and a peace activist were arrested Thursday morning during a prayer vigil at a virtual fence communication tower under construction in Arizona. John Heid, 54, a Quaker with Christian Peacemaker Teams and Fr. Jerome Zawada, 72, a Franciscan priest, had gone to pray at the US-Mexico border where walls and virtual fences have caused the deaths of five thousand migrants. A Pima County Sheriff's deputy arrested both for trespass. The pair was taken into custody on the anniversary of the atomic bomb deployment on Nagasaki, Japan. They released the following statement:

On this, the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, we call for an end to militarization in all its guises. An end to bombs, nuclear and conventional. An end to the use of Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). An end to walls, fences and their virtual counterparts that divide us and promote fear of each other. An end to war without end.

This morning we vigil at the gates of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, home of a Predator UAV unit which now flies missions around the clock in Iraq and Afghanistan armed with Hellfire missiles which have killed hundreds of unarmed civilians. We demand an end to the unilateral slaughter.

This afternoon we vigil at a communication tower, "Tucson-1" (virtual fence) construction sight. Fences and walls, solid and virtual, have funneled people in migration deeper into the harsh, dangerous terrain of the Sonoran desert, resulting in more than 5,000 deaths since 1994.

These three - bombs, drones and fences/walls - are lethal weapons directed specifically at noncombatants. Cities like Hiroshima, villages in Iraq and Afghanistan and the U.S.-Mexico borderland have been deliberately targeted and violated. These are crimes against humanity. A betrayal of civility. In spiritual terms, a sin.

Today we pray without ceasing for a world without weapons and fences. We pray for peace, for justice, for unity which makes walls and war obsolete.


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