Ed. note: Anne’s always meaningful thoughts arrived at my in-box a couple of weeks ago. They are in synch with some other events upcoming in the near future: Shadow War information is here. Forty Years After Vietnam series begins April 10, details here. Also, just a couple of days ago, I learned of a book detailing a 1971 incident involving anti-war draft resisters and J. Edgar Hoovers FBI. The book is Burglary. A movie about the book apparently opens in limited markets on April 18.
Directly related, especially the section about Padre Johnson’s sketch with story (about mid-post), here.
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I often write letters to prisoners of conscience, incarcerated because of civil disobedience. I believe their jailers should know their prisoners have widespread community support. I began preparing these missives of encouragement when I worked for Clergy and Laity Concerned (CALC), Minneapolis.
In October 1965, 100 clergy members had met in New York to discuss what they could do to challenge U.S. policy on Vietnam. Some of the founding members were: Dr. John C Bennett, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Fr. Phillip Berrigan, Fr. Daniel Berrigan SJ (Society of Jesus), Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. They believed that a multi-faith organization would lend credible support to an anti-war movement often labeled as Communist.
When the group opened its membership to laypeople, they became Clergy and Layman Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV). In April 1967 King used the organization’s platform for his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, condemning the war.
Following King’s assassination CALCAV increased civil disobedience activities, protesting against Dow Chemical (producer of napalm) and Honeywell (maker of anti-personnel weapons, designed to incapacitate people rather than structures or vehicles).
“The war has come home like a stalking corpse, trailing its blood, its tears, its losses, its despair – seeking like an American ghost, the soul of America. We want peace, but most of us do not want to pay the price of peace. We still dream of a peace that has no cost attached. We want peace, but we live content with poverty and injustice and racism, with the murder of prisoners and students, the despair of the poor to whom justice is endlessly denied. We long for peace, but we wish also to keep undisturbed a social fabric of privilege and power that controls the economic misery of two thirds of the world’s people.” Daniel Berrigan.
Daniel was born in Virginia, MN, May 9, 1921. In 1967 he and his brother, Phillip (both Catholic priests), were put on the FBI 10 most wanted fugitives list for their involvement in antiwar protests during the Vietnam War. Phillip was arrested that same year and sentenced to six years in prison.
Daniel traveled to Hanoi with Howard Zinn during the Tet Offensive in late Jan. 1968 to “receive” three airmen, the first American POWs released by the North Vietnamese since the US bombings of that nation had begun.
The Tet Offensive was a series of coordinated surprise attacks by North Vietnam National Liberation Front on all provincial capital cities of South Vietnam. Tet refers to the date of the Lunar New Year.
By 1971 CALCAV had turned its attention to other social justice issues, including supporting the popular struggle in Latin America and struggles against colonialism and apartheid in Africa, challenging US military involvement in Central America and the role of corporations in US foreign policy, and changed its name to Clergy and Laity Concerned (CALC).
In 1980, Daniel, Phillip and six others began the Plowshares international peace and nuclear disarmament movement. Phillip died in 2002.
“We spoke out, committed civil disobedience, and went to jail because the peace hangs precariously upon weapons costing billions to build and billions to improve – weapons which become more useless as we add to their destructive force. With this money we could have fed the world’s people. Half the children of the earth go to bed hungry – millions have retarding and stunting protein deficiencies. Instead of building peace by attacking injustices like starvation, disease, illiteracy, political and economic servitude, we spent a trillion dollars on war since 1946, (the cost of war has increased greatly since this was written) until hatred and conflict have become the international preoccupation.” Daniel Berrigan.
My dear friend Larry Cloud-Morgan was imprisoned for participating in the Armistice Day, 1984, Silo Pruning Hooks Plowshares disarmament action, in MO. Also sentenced were: Fr. Paul and Carl Kabot and Helen Woodson. For this, and other non-violent direct actions against war, Woodson has served 27 years in prison. She was released Sept. 9, 2011.
Larry was an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, born February 1, 1938 in Cass Lake. He also used the name Wabash-Ti-Mi-Gwan (Whitefeather).
While a student at Marquette University, Milwaukee, he was encouraged to become a priest and was, for a time, a seminarian at St John’s University (Collegeville, MN). Eventually he chose to pursue his artistic interests and moved to Chicago to study at the School of Art Institute. He returned to Minnesota in the early 1980s and devoted much of his time and energy to community involvement, social justice causes, spiritual mentoring, peace and disarmament activism. He was also a member of CALC.
Plowshares continued nonviolent but confrontational protests and acts of civil disobedience.
For his role in the Armistice Day disarmament action in MO, Larry was incarcerated at Federal Prison Camp, Terre Haute, IN, April 1985. He was transferred to Wyandotte County Jail, KS and released in March 1987. On Jan 27, 1989, he was convicted of violating the terms of his probation and sentenced to one year in prison. He was sent to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners at Rochester, MN, and released on Nov. 13, 1989.
Following his release he divided his time between Minneapolis and a small cabin near Ball Club [MN]. He died on June 8, 1999 (age 61) and is buried in Morgan Cemetery, Wilkinson Township.
I was one of many who accompanied Larry on several politically charged adventures. We were insulted, ridiculed, harassed and threatened. Larry was my mentor. His was the voice of reason. His was the heart of love. He laid his gentle hands on volatile situations and restored calm. If ever there was a peacemaker, it was Larry.
At his wake he was laid in an open casket made of simple pine boards, in the middle of the Leech Lake Veterans Memorial Center on a bed of cedar boughs. Chairs were arranged in a circle around him. He wore his ribbon shirt, beaded medallion and new moccasins. He was wrapped in his Four Direction Pendleton blanket. In the casket was a china plate with a painted horse on it, a doll, a stuffed black bear, his pipe and carved walking stick. He’d lost a foot and several toes to diabetes.
As I sat near his casket, I considered the items he’d selected for his journey to the other side. The plate was provided so he would have food for the 3-4 days it takes to get to that far place. But I also remembered a story he’d told me about his grandmother. When Larry was a small child she would put him on the arm of her rocking chair and he would pretend it was a horse. She told him if he wanted “cowboy cookies” he had to help her, by riding his rocking chair horse.
He’d made the doll himself and stuffed her with the bandages from his severed toes. When his dressings were changed, he’d kept the gauze, washed, boiled and saved it, until he had enough to make the doll.
At Ball Club he had a family of black bears that he fed. They came to his house for sanctuary and enjoyed feasting on large quantities of sunflower seeds. The stuffed bear represented his animal friends.
We all get a new pair of moccasins when we go to the other side and he never went anywhere without his elegant walking stick.
The lid for the coffin lay on the floor along the left side of the coffin. It had been padded and covered with a dark fabric. On the fabric were the dusty tracks of children who had stood on it when they said goodbye to their kind and beautiful friend. I thought it was a wonderful testimony of loyalty and love, of confidence and trust. I think Larry would have written a poem about those little footprints.
Minneapolis attorney Miles Lord said of Larry, “He had a dedication to freedom and free speech. He opposed tyranny.”
Larry… a patriot… a hero… a mentor… a friend.
Anne M. Dunn is a long-time and wonderful friend, an Anishinabe-Ojibwe grandmother storyteller and published author. She makes her home in rural Deer River, MN, on the Leech Lake Reservation. She can be reached at twigfigsATyahooDOTcom. She has three previous posts at Outside the Walls. You can read them all here.