More than 100 men and women, young adults and teenagers walked out of La Placita Church a little before 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 7, singing, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” By 12:16 p.m., the last of 15 demonstrators wearing blue arm bands were arrested and driven away in van paddy wagons for a deliberate act of civil disobedience, stretching across Los Angeles Street downtown while singing, “We shall not be moved.”On the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, the prayer service, march, rally and civil disobedience was a call to action by local faith communities to “Stop the Wars! Fund Jobs!”“Today we gather to confront the greatest obscenity imaginable,” declared the last protester to be arrested from a flat-bed truck earlier, the Rev. George Regas, pastor emeritus of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. “The U.S. has spent more than $4 trillion on these wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, and we will spend trillions more with the 40 percent of the soldiers who come home wounded. $4 trillion for the wars — and 41 percent of our children live in poverty in the United States of America.“That’s the greatest obscenity I can imagine,” he repeated slowly. “So many out of work. So many losing their homes. And the rich get richer, and so many remain poor. So much pain and suffering all around us, and $4 trillion paid for wars. That is the greatest obscenity of our day. And God weeps. God weeps at what God’s children are doing.”The morning-long action was sponsored by the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, which was formed shortly after 9/11/01. ICUJP called for a withdrawal of all troops and private contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan this year, an end to drone attacks targeting civilians in Pakistan and elsewhere, along with a stop to torture abroad and at home. Moreover, the grass-roots group asked that these military funds go to create jobs and meet human needs.The march started down Main Street, circled Los Angeles City Hall, winding up at closed-off Los Angeles Street near Temple in front of the federal building. More than a dozen speakers addressed the vocal crowd carrying placards that read, “How is the war economy working for you?” “Stop Wall Street wars” and “It’s the inequality, tax the super rich.” One woman carried a knapsack with a sign saying, “The 99% for peace,” while a young man wore a black T-shirt proclaiming Dorothy Day’s quote, “The only solution is love.”The orchestrated street event was endorsed by a number of organizations, including the L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, National Lawyers Guild, Veterans for Peace, Pax Christi Southern California and St. Camillus Catholic Center for Spiritual Care. Father Chris Ponnet, pastor of St. Camillus and director of spiritual care at Los Angeles County and USC Medical Center, was one of those arrested.He pointed out that the action was carefully coordinated with the Los Angeles Police Department as part of ICUJP’s commitment to nonviolence. “First and foremost, we’re doing this because it’s the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan and the millions of people who have been displaced and killed there,” he told The Tidings. “I see the veterans who come back as patients at our hospital, so on a regular basis I see the side effects of the war.”But the 54-year-old priest pointed out how the action was also to help Christians and others understand that being pro-life means more than being against abortion. “I commit this act of civil disobedience in the hope of challenging my fellow consistent-life ethics believers who see abortion and euthanasia as wrong, but also wars, the death penalty, immigration and health care policies that are basically racist and wrong. “To make those links to me is real important within our Catholic community. And an action like this to those who might disagree with it, hopefully, will at least create some dialogue of why this might be considered a life equal because of our belief that every human life is sacred.And my hope as a priest in the Los Angeles Archdiocese is that this would encourage some of my fellow priests to be moved to include these other life issues in their preaching during this month of respect life.”Sharon and David Hoover took an Amtrak train from Orange County to the downtown L.A. rally. The semi-retired couple, recently installed as regional coordinators of Pax Christi in Orange, felt it was vital to take part in the 10th anniversary public action against the no-end-in-sight Afghan war. “As a Catholic Christian, I follow the nonviolent Jesus, and that means we forgive our enemies — we don’t bomb our enemies,” Sharon said during the rally. “There is just all this money being spent on the wars, and we’ve got so many problems here. Working with women at Bethany, a transitional living home for homeless women, I’m so aware of the need for jobs and for services to our people who are poor in this country. “So it’s time to stop the wars,” she stressed, “and we need to stop becoming a militaristic empire, and become more peaceful and peace-seeking.”David was nodding. “The question that comes to me is ‘Am I a follower of Jesus or not?’” he mused. “And if I say yes, I have to in some way try to release his peace and love in this world. This is just a small attempt to do that, and I pray that God’s graces multiply our efforts.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/1014/warprotest/{/gallery}