Peace Scientists work for peace

We the people

Media heist in Media, Pennsylvania. SJ Dodgson MJoTA 2015 v9n1 p0605

So many good folks working, and dying, for "We the People". So many politicians, profiteers and uniformed folks pushing back and working for tyrants to inform us, and determine our paths.

Four city blocks, bounded by 5th and 6th Streets and Walnut and Race Streets comprise the Philadelphia memorial to independence. Included at the Walnut Street end is Independence Hall, with a statue of George Washington at its front door, and at the Race Street end, the Constitution Center. These parks were jammed on the 2015 Martin Luther King jr Day, click here.

The US Constitution, right from the start, was controversial. A memorial on Market Street, see pictures below, gives the wording that some wanted to include, which made owning slaves illegal. How much suffering, indignity, poverty, early death could have been eliminated if these words had been included. Ah.

We were always meant to have rules that worked for We the People: rules that ensured our liberty, health and education so that we can all lead purpose-filled lives. When a century of apartheid was overturned in the Supreme Court, brave folks traveled by bus to as far south as they could go, because the laws against apartheid had been removed, but tyrants in buses, schools and shops insisted on continuing to make life hell for American citizens.

The Freedom Riders were ordinary Americans, the bus rides were ordinary. Except they were not. Because tyrants insisted on continuing the American apartheid in which Americans of entirely European descent were expected to only interact to exploit Americans with African ancestors. And if anyone crossed invisible lines, tyrants beat them, shot them, burned them, jailed them.

John Raines was a Freedom Rider in the early 1960s, and spent time in jail because of his simple act of riding a bus with friends. I listened to him speak last night about taking on not just petty tyrants that filled southern police forces and southern judiciary.

He, with 3 women and 4 other men, took on the FBI and in a planned raid, managed to get into a regional office in Media, Pennsylvania, on March 8, 1971, on a night when the whole world was watching a Joe Frazier vs Muhammed Ali fight, and relieved the office of every single file. They mailed files anonymously to newspapers and before too long, the whole world knew that the FBI was not working for We the People but in every way was trying to intimidate, bully and mold us, and even murdered Fred Hampton, a charismatic young leader in the Black Panthers.

I was 19 in March 1971. During that month, I started the 2nd year of my science degree, sat in my first biochemistry lecture and heard Professor EOP Thompson describe amino acids at the University of New South Wales. I was not opposed to the Vietnam War, even though I knew I did not want anyone I knew to fight alongside American soldiers. I was a fundamental Christian, and had been told that godless hordes would take over Asia in a domino effect and would end up taking over Australia. If we did not stay Christian. Rather than challenge this, and come to terms with my friends who were being jailed for protesting the Vietnam War, I focused instead on the beauty of the symmetry of amino acids, and wondered why no-one had ever told me about them. And decided that I wanted to follow the symmetry and logic of molecules the rest of my life, and was not going to leave university until I had my PhD. And that is what happened. I flew into Philadelphia after being awarded my PhD in physiology and pharmacology, after unsuccessfully running for state parliament as a 3rd party candidate, after a trek through California, Texas and Florida, to start work as a post-doctoral fellow in Philadelphia, at the University of Pennsylvania, in Nov 1978, the day that Margaret Mead died.

Several of the 8 citizens who broke into the suburban Philadelphia FBI office in Media were my age, but undoubtedly more sophisticated politically. After the break-in, John Raines, and his wife Bonnie Raines, who was one of the 8, remained in Philadelphia, hiding in plan sight as 200 FBI agents tried to figure out who to arrest. Another, William Davidon, who was physics faculty at Haverford College, remained also in the area until his death in 2013. That they would not be caught, and be able to continue their lives was not clear when they were planning the break-in, or afterwards when the United States Congress deliberated on their findings. That they were all able to lead lives that were normal and not incarcerated is miraculous.

They were the lucky ones. We heard that 19 American citizens remain in jail because of FBI lies, intimidation and traps. One man, jailed for 43 years, spoke to us in a voice that was strong, and not bitter. His message, and the message from all of the speakers, and the documentary film maker, was to make sure our country has rules that permit us life and liberty, and to rise up against any institution that works to take these away from us.