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Camden Friar, FVMs Attend Lockheed Martin Protest

CAMDEN, N.J. — Protestors honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 15 by remembering Dr. King’s call for peace and non-violence in a protest outside Lockheed Martin plant in Valley Forge, Pa. Pat Sieber, who lives in Camden, and a friend and I joined the crowd of more than 50 on the sidewalk near King of Prussia Mall for a non-violent vigil, before 11 crossed the line and were arrested.

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer and the main contractor with the U.S. government for nuclear weapons, as well as the highest profiteer from the war in Iraq, according to information provided by the Brandywine Peace Community, which organized the protest. The photo shows Pat Sieber reading names of Americans killed in Iraq.

Protestors lined the sidewalk holding banners and signs bearing anti-war and anti-Lockheed Martin messages during a bell tolling and reading of the names of U.S. and Iraqi war dead. This was followed by a guest speaker, audio broadcasts of excerpts from Dr. King’s sermons and speeches, and a call-and-response litany.

Eleven protestors set up a chain on the ground across the entrance to Lockheed Martin in memorial to Dr. King and all victims of war and for victims of the economy of war, such as those who suffer from homelessness, hunger, racism and sexism. The group crossed over onto Lockheed Martin property, where they were met by a line of security officers, and after refusing to leave, were arrested. They were processed and released that afternoon.

Those who remained on the sidewalk concluded their vigil with words from Galen Tyler, director of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, who urged the protestors to see the connection between social justice and peace efforts.

Despite the handful of naysayers who encouraged protestors to descend to the netherworld (in less eloquent terms), many passers-by honked their horns and gave the thumbs-up sign.

— Kelly Zientek is a member of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry.