Elkhart Camp Casey

A Nonviolent Campaign to End the War in Iraq

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Saturday, December 10

Bitter cold again, but campers stayed warm. The morning became a wrap-up time with getting out news reports to the media that did not show at the recruiting slowdown event and this log update. Breaking camp was more difficult with the snow and frozen ground. We focused our daily worship time on a celebration of these two weeks and a sendoff for further efforts to witness to the upcoming end of the war in Iraq.

Thank you readers of this blog for your interest! Put up a Camp Casey sign in your front yard or church lawn to encourage a dialogue and take the steps of resistance that end the war in Iraq!

Friday, December 9

Deep snow had crushed in the edges of the tents, but temps were about 17 degrees. Nice! The snow caused cancellations from Huntington and Goshen, but others braved the snowy roads from Fort Wayne and South Bend to bring our total to eleven for the "Recruiting Slowdown Action."

We had a brief training at Agape Missionary Baptist and then headed to the military recruiting center. No media, land owner, or police (we had called them to give them a heads up) were there. Teams of two entered the office and had a half hour of good interchange before a recruiter, whose relative had died in Iraq, arrived and called the land owner to protest our presence. He was a bit more friendly than his son on Tuesday, but wanted the police, who had arrived by that time, to remove us.

Simultaneously, the flowers we had ordered for each of the three recruiting offices arrived with their notes celebrating with the recruiters the closing of the recruiting efforts! We talked about lawyer opinions, called Fort Knox to get an okay for the recruiters who still wanted to talk with us to proceed, and explained how important it is to get the diversity of opinions about Iraq on the table so we can together uncover answers to the problems facing our world in Iraq. After 90 minutes, and after all the recruiting office doors had "Closed" signs hanging out, we departed feeling that it was an important witness.

In the afternoon we visited the Islamic Center in Mishawaka and had a good conversation with the cleric Mohammad. He had suggestions for contacts in planning further the Camp Casey in South Bend, scheduled for January 7-22.

Chris Long from South Bend, who spent two nights in a fifth tent, worked diligently to highlight each of the markers at Camp Casey with luminaries. Beautiful!

Another house meeting at Rachel Hartzler's in Goshen had 15 people in attendance. The group left with three action foci:
1) learning more about depleted uranium weaponry (start with a google search)
2) developing a listening/healing center for veterans returning from Iraq
3) helping churches to get on board with a focus on the "opt out" right that youth have.

Thursday, December 8

Very cold again! This was press release day for the witness at the military recruiters Friday, December 9. We sent it out to TV, radio, and print media and then did telephone call-backs to highlight the event.

We also sent out a letter to the editor of the Elkhart Truth that details our learning about the response of Concord, Elkhart Memorial, and Elkhart Central high schools to the clause in the "No Child Left Behind Act" that grants youth the privilege to refuse to give their contact information to military recruiters. With about 5,000 students in the three schools, only about ten students have "opted out." This appears to be primarily because there has been little or no attention in the school systems to this right. A few parents and students have taken the initiative to download the form from the web (www.leavemychildalone.org) to get it into schools. Churches and parents should be encouraging students to organize in the schools.

Camp Casey contacted lawyers to check our legal right to enter a private building to talk with recruiters. The opinion from two lawyers is that in the mix of property rights and freedom of speech, if there is no constraint against other leasees by the activists, the right to free speech trumps property rights.

Camp Casey had a house meeting at Sam and Arleta Yoder's with 13 of us driving through the deep snow. It was stimulating evening because there were a variety of perspectives on Iraq.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dec. 6, Tuesday

Cliff spent three hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon at Central High School with about 350 students over four periods, to speak of experiences in Iraq. Army recruiters were at the school the same day to administer the armed forces battery of tests to 35 students, down from the total student body in years past. Between 11 AM and 12:30 PM, up to 25 persons gathered at 500 N. Napannee St. to plant crosses honoring the 2,100 plus U.S. military people who have died in the Iraq war.

As we raised our banner, "Stop Recruiting For Death, Students get Opt-out Forms, End Iraq War," for motorists to see, city police appeared and specified that we were allowed to stay on the location for only one hour. After planting all 2100 plus crosses the group gathered for a short worship. The group sang a song and Biff Weidman led the group in prayers for our witness to end the war.

Police, in response to the land-owner's request, required us to move our vehicles to another location. The owner also refused to allow us entry to deliver letters to the recruiters' offices.

Fox channel 28, did an interview at Camp Casey about the earlier witness at the recruiting station. The reporter gave a sincere hug and "Thanks for your faith!"

Jeff stopped to request money for food. Camp Casey offered space in the tents and gave Jeff some soup, bread and peanut butter which they had on hand.

At 6:30, Faith House in Goshen hosted Camp Casey along with about 15 others and had a discussion regarding the situation in Iraq.

Dec. 5 - Monday, Camp Casey

A record low for the day in Elkhart was five degrees. We sent a news release to all local media regarding Camp Casey's action on Tuesday morning in which we would plant crosses on the grassy strip in front of 500 N. Napannee military recruitment offices. We made follow-up phone calls to media offices calling attention to this planned action. Tom Benevento joined Cliff and Juanita to speak to Ted Koontz's Colloquim at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary from 12:30 to 1:30 PM.

Following this, six of the group shared a silent prayer time in the "Chapel of the Word" on campus from 1:30 to 2:00 PM. From 4:30 to 5:00 P.M., 29 people gathered at Camp Casey for worship, songs and prayer for opening the way for the CPTers in Iraq and ourselves.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Camp Casey volunteers pray near the offices of Army and Air Force recruiters on N. Nappanee Street, Elkhart. Posted by Picasa

Camp Casey volunteers pray near the offices of Army and Air Force recruiters on N. Nappanee Street, Elkhart. Posted by Picasa

Cliff Kindy talks about the converstations that he and Tom Benevento have had with recruiters over the past week. Posted by Picasa

Camp Casey volunteers place 2,100 crosses -- each representing a U.S. soldier killed in the war in Iraq -- near the offices of Army and Air Force recruiters on North Nappanee Street, Elkhart. Posted by Picasa

Camp Casey volunteers place 2,100 crosses near the offices of Army and Air Force recruiters on North Nappanee Street, Elkhart. Posted by Picasa

Camp Casey volunteers place 2,100 crosses near the offices of Army and Air Force recruiters on North Nappanee Street, Elkhart. Posted by Picasa

Juanita Shenk leads the group in "Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying." Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sunday, December 4

Tim Brennan, Tom Benevento, and Cliff Kindy woke to three inches of new snow covering the ground. (When the snow gets deep enough, the Camp has plans for igloos...) The team shoveled many area sidewalks.

Juanita Shenk joined Tom and Cliff for worship at Prairie Street Mennonite Church where Cliff and Tom shared about CPT in Iraq, the holding of the four CPTers in Iraq by the Sword of Righteousness group, and the upcoming events for Camp Casey in Elkhart. Juanita left early to share at Belmont Mennonite Church the activities planned for the coming week. A Prairie Street Sunday School class invited the three campers to respond to questions and suggestions. Aki, from the congregation, served a special Japanese dinner to which the campers were invited.

The afternoon filled with phone calls and visits. CPT is still responding to media interest because of the four missing CPTers in Iraq. The maintenance crew (Juanita and Cliff, since Tom had returned home to Goshen for awhile) repaired one of the large banners that had lost its north leg in the wind. Eight people had been part of the camp or visited throughout the day.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Greetings from Camp Casey Elkhart

We want to let you know of two events to which we hope you can invite as many as possible. They are focused on counter recruitment and hope to get to the public more information that youth have an option to opt-out from the military getting their information.

Thank you,
Tom Benevento
Cliff Kindy

Tuesday December 6th - Counter Recruitment Action and Mourn the Dead
Location: 500 N. Nappanee/SR 19 across from Honda dealership
Over the lunch hour between 11:30 -1pm
We will place over 2,100 crosses in front of the recruiting office along Nappanee Street and request that recruiters leave their jobs. We will invite the media and a make a clear connection to recruitment,US soldiers dead, and that youth have an option to "Opt-Out" from recruiters getting their information.

Friday December 9th - Recruitment Slow-Down "Jam It Up"
Wolf and Benham Ave. at Agape Missionary Baptist and Creekside Church of the
Brethren office to convene.

People from the region (Goshen, Elkhart, etc.) will join together at Creekside COB office at 8:30 a.m. for training and then at 10 a.m. in mass arrive at recruiting office and flood it with people asking important questions to recruiters, giving them alternative information about recruitment, and mock sign ups to slow the recruitment process down, inform recruiters, and get media attention.

Any questions call us at Camp Casey Elkhart; (574) 293-0886.

More information about the January 7-22, 2006, Camp Casey in South Bend is available from the Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Thursday, December 1

After leading our worship, Val Knickrehm returned home. Biff Weidman stopped by to invite Cliff to join the men's prayer gathering at Emmaous House across Benham Ave., a short distance from Camp Casey on Friday at 6 AM. While Juanita was off site for a time, Cliff did a lengthy interview with a reporter for New Hampshire Public Radio.

Mid-afternoon Cliff and Juanita drove to Concord High School. They spoke with Judy Miller in the Concord District Administrative office regarding availability of the option for students and parents to remove the student's name from the military recruitors' lists of students to contact. After seeing a copy of the form for the first time, the secretary offered to make copies and see that they were available in the guidance counselor's office for students who might request them. We attempted, unsuccessfully, to visit the guidance counselor, Mrs. Cocanour, and left her a message. We learned that literature regarding alternatives to the military, could be placed alongside other types of information for students to pick up.

Back at Camp Casey, more time was spent on phone contacts. Student leaders at local Mennonite churches are eager to help educate fellow students about "opting out."

A photographer, Ariel, from Spanish language local paper, "El Puente," came by and took pictures for an article. Rosanna McFadden crafted a sign to accompany the 42 crosses on the lawn at Camp Casey.

Mark Byler and daughter, Jasmin, stopped by for a visit. Juanita spent the night off-site.
--Juanita Shenk

Wednesday, November 30

Light snow fell early and Tom Benevento joined the two overnighters to go to Elkhart Central High School. The guidance counselor said only two of 1700 students have selected to remove their names from the list that goes to recruiters. The counselor urged trying to get students to take the initiative on this issue and also offered to let the social studies department know of Cliff's willingness to speak about Iraq.

Carol Rose called to encourage Camp Casey to brainstorm how to end the war by Christmas, based on the overwhelming media interest from three countries, focused on the four missing CPTers in Iraq. The CPT web site is receiving more hits in 15 minutes than, sometimes, weeks at a time. Reports are out that the Grand Mufti of Palestine, Hamas, the Muslim Scholars' Board, and Fatah have urged the group "hosting" the four missing CPTers in Iraq not to hurt them because they are helping Palestinians and Iraqis.

Val Knickrehm came for the afternoon and overnight. The team put up 42 crosses in the Agape Church lawn representing the 42 Hoosier military personnel who have died in Iraq. Juanita and Cliff joined the Agape congregation for a Bible study in the evening. Pastor Brown said it would be fine to have a nonviolence training at the church next Thursday evening.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tuesday, November 29

Tom and son Silas joined the two campers for the day. Another tent sprouted on the site. The construction firm building a new elementary school across Wolf loaned heavy construction stakes that held the tent in the strong winds. A sign, Camp Casey: a Nonviolent Campaign to End the War in Iraq, was tied to the front bushes at the Agape Church. Camp Casey visited the recruitment offices and talked extensively with two army recruiters who had been in Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither was familiar with the effects of depleted uranium weaponry on military personnel. The campers urged them to become familiar with those dangers that have been covered up. Several visitors and phone inquiries about the missing CPTers in Iraq interspersed the activities of the day.

Also on Tuesday: Marshall King, Elkhart Truth, did a phone interview. A Mennonite Seminary student stopped to encourage and visit. A house meeting with nine people at Juanita Shenk's. Cliff Kindy saw the video of the four missing CPTers and then received the email identifying them for the first time just as the meeting started. It was jarring.