By Chad Cain, Daily Hampshire Gazette
Patricia “Paki” Wieland was arrested Monday, though that bit of news probably is not a shock to those who know the longtime peace activist from Northampton.
Wieland, 73, and about 20 others, including Leverett resident Elizabeth Adams, 70, trekked to the Pentagon following a weekend peace conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by an organization called World Beyond War.
The protesters sought to hand-deliver a letter and petition signed by 23,000 people to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter calling for an end to general warfare and urging leaders to engage in diplomacy.
The petition specifically demands the closing of a United States military base in Germany where U.S. drones are relayed to the Middle East for targeted attacks that kill civilians, the group claims.
Carter did not meet with the protesters, and police arrested Wieland, Adams and others at the gate after the group said they would not leave without speaking to him. They were charged with failure to obey a lawful order to disperse, Wieland said.
“We view it as civil resistance, not civil disobedience,” Wieland said by phone shortly after her arrest.
The protesters called on the United States to stop the “illegal” wars it is engaged in that have never been declared, such as in Syria, Wieland said.
“Our government is engaged in war crimes,” she said. “We are calling out their actions.”
The arrest is one of many over the years for the retired professor at Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire. “Too many times,” Wieland said.
She said she will continue to engage in nonviolent protests as long as she feels there is a need.
Monday’s protest was the culmination of a conference attended by peace activists and academics in the nation’s capital. The conference included a keynote address by David Swanson, an author who argues the illegality of war and co-founder of the website http://warisacrime.org/.
At the conference, the group World Beyond War drafted an indictment of the president and secretary of defense for violating the U.S. Constitution and calling for their indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Wieland said the police officers who arrested them were relaxed and not hostile. “They were respectful to us,” she added.