Friday, July 22, 2016

What was the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice (WEFPJ)?

    The Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice (WEFPJ) was an all-women’s community of protest and challenge to violence and militarism housed on 52 acres bordering the Seneca Army Depot in upstate New York. 



    Commonly known as the Seneca Women’s Peace Camp or Seneca, WEFPJ was modeled after the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in England (1981-2000) where thousands of British sisters were engaged in nonviolent protest in the face of the scheduled deployment of U.S. Cruise and Pershing II nuclear missiles.



    Though the United States military steadfastly refused at the time to either confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons at the Seneca Depot, it has since been revealed that the base was a storage site and departure point for nuclear weapons bound for Europe. Additionally, the Depot housed radioactive material for the Manhattan Project.


    In the summer of 1983, 12,000 women from around the world came to the encampment to participate in nonviolence training, direct action, and civil disobedience at the Seneca Army Depot resulting in 950 arrests. Actions continued throughout the 1980s with an ongoing peace presence until 2006.

ViDeo: WEFPJ Slide/Tape Presentation

   Produced by the Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice media collective in the late summer of 1983 to help publicize, fundraise, and educate people about the encampment.
 

See WEFPJ media collective member Dorothy Emerson's PeHP interview here.

WEFPJ 1983 Resource Handbook

HeRSToRY 039 & 040 Quinn Dilkes & Rosalie Regal

    Quinn and Rosalie are longtime friends who were among those arrested at the bridge in Waterloo, NY in the summer of 1983. Both women were members of the New York City Women's Pentagon Action and had spent months planning a festive 15-mile walk from Seneca Falls to the peace camp but ended up spending five days in jail instead. Quinn arrived at the encampment a day before the incident via a 270-mile peace walk from NYC.

Interview: Quinn Dilkes & Rosalie Regal
Date:
March 1, 2008
Location:
New York, NY
Present:
Estelle Coleman, hershe Michele Kramer & Alice O'Malley
 
CLIP 1: I can't believe what I'm seeing
CLIP 2: What are these women doing?!?
INTERVIEW 

 
INCIDENT AT THE WATERLOO BRIDGEJuly 30, 1983
Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Catherine Allport.

Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Catherine Allport.

Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Deb Mandel.

Photo by Nancy Clover.

SoNG: Beth's Song: Ballad of Greenham

video
Video: Seneca Army Depot truck gate, August 1, 1983 - Women's Video Collective
Music: Helen & Hershe from Peace Camps Sing, produced by Sorrel Hays and Marilyn Ries, 1987

Beth's Song: Ballad of Greenham
Written by Helen Freedwomon aka Helen Friedman, 1984
PeHP Source: Songsheets 1985; Peace Camps Sing, Sorrel Hays & Marilyn Ries, 1987

I wrote this song in 1986 after Beth, a woman at Greenham, stood trial for trespass and destruction of property. Some of the words were based on things she said in the courtroom.
~ Helen

When you rape the earth you rape my body
I can feel her trembling in my soul
As you rip her roots you clog my life's blood
With your poison weapons of control 
 You say you only follow orders -
it's just your job the day's routine
To kill then justify the murder
As you guard and drive your death machines   

Your strength is an illusion
Your lies are an intrusion
on my life, my sacred space.
And the words we've written on your doors to destruction
might be wiped clean but their truth can't be erased.

You'd rip me open like a test site.
Colonize my body like the land
With the law protecting your need for the might
to make sure we know who's in command
You dare to say I damage property
while you destroy and damage lives
You may swear to God I'm guilty
but I say it's you who is being tried. 

The truth is stronger
Women are stronger
than any force that you exert
Ours is the power of the wind and the water
Love for our sisters and our love for the earth.  

You think you're going to stop me
with your laws, your walls, your prison bars
But as I rise up in this struggle to be free
I'll expose your lies for what they are.

I'll be back to cut your fences
Each hole restoring sacred ground
Cut through your lies and pretenses
Until all the walls of fear come down.

The truth is stronger
Women are stronger
Than any force that you exert
Ours is the power of the wind and the water
Love for our sisters and our love for the earth

ViDeo: Every Woman Here: Remnants of Seneca 1982-2006

Produced by the Peace Encampment Herstory Project 2007; revised 2015.


Front cover of DVD case
Back cover of DVD case

ViDeo: WVC 047 July 16-17, 1983

*This video was transferred to miniDV tape from the original 3/4" tape. Although title and credit pages have been added, the content has not been edited.  As with all Women’s Video Collective (WVC) footage, video and sound quality vary greatly due to the age of the material (25 years between original and digital), the quality of the tapes and equipment to begin with (used and borrowed), and the setting itself (outdoors in the heat and wind on uneven ground). Herstory owes a large debt of gratitude to all the women who helped in ways great and small to document the women's peace encampment that summer of 1983 and especially to Judi Kelemen and Nancy Clover for storing, and then making available, WVC's videos and photographs. Many, many thanks as well to filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal who graciously donated their equipment, expertise, and Brooklyn studio so the Peace Encampment Herstory Project could digitize WVC’s 130-tape collection.

Women walking, skipping, and singing along the yellow paint line at the main gate of the depot before enhancing the road and the depot's conditions of entry sign
Women’s Video Collective. Copyright 1983. All Rights Reserved.
Peace Encampment Herstory Project - WVC 047


SoNG: Liberty Chain

September 4, 1983 footage from the Women's Video Collective. 
Copyright 1983. All Rights Reserved.

Liberty Chain
Alternative lyrics written by Seneca Chain Gang affinity group?
Original songwriter unknown
PeHP Source: WVC 023

It's time for the liberty chain
And it's time to let our souls sing out again
And it's time for the liberty chain
Brothers and sisters, come on, get out of the rain

Pardon me, Brother, do you have a dime?
We'll reach out and call to talk to you just one more time
Well, I'm tired and hungry just like you
It's going to take all of us and then
We're going to see it through 

It's time for the liberty chain
And it's time to let your souls sing out again
And it's time for the liberty chain
Brothers and sisters, come on, get out of the rain

Headed for changes that are coming through
And we don't want to have to make it this time without you
It don't matter where you come from
It don't matter what you do
It's going to take all of us

It's time for the liberty chain
And it's time to let our souls sing out again
And it's time for the liberty chain
Brothers and sisters, come on, get out of the rain
Brothers and sisters, come on, get out of the rain

WVC Interview: Barbara Deming

    Barbara Deming (July 23, 1917 - August 2, 1984) is one of the most significant nonviolent theorists in U.S. history. Her writings and activism chronicle the civil rights movement, the Vietnam anti-war movement, the women's movement and the gay and lesbian rights movement. She published many books, including Prison Notes (1966) and Remembering Who We Are (1981). Prisons That Could Not Hold (1995) contains the essay she wrote about Seneca the summer of 1983 and the incident in Waterloo. It also includes a chronology of events by Blue Lunden and photographs by Dorothy Marder, Catherine Allport, Catherine DeMaria, Ellen Shub & Joan E. Biren, shown below.

Women’s Video Collective. Copyright 1983. All Rights Reserved.
 Peace Encampment Herstory Project- WVC 062
Barbara being interviewed at the encampment several days after being released from jail.

Barbara raises her flag/bouquet if wildflowers. Photo by Dorothy Marder, 1983.
above: As she is being arrested, Barbara blows a kiss to a tearful Jun Song. Photo by Catherine Allport, 1983. below: Barbara is handcuffed. Photo by Catherine DeMaria, 1983.
above: The Jane Does testify during the arraignment at the Seneca County Fairgrounds. below: The group waits in the courtroom for the decision. Photos by Joan E. Biren (JEB), 1983.
above: Grace Paley (center) and other women at the school/jail in Interlaken, NY, circle in support of the fifty-four arrested women. below: Jane Gaupin (left) talks with townspeople at the jail. Photos by Joan E. Biren (JEB), 1983.
above: Back at the encampment, Barbara holds the flagpole point. below: One of the all-women circles at the peace camp in front of the barn. Photos by Joan E. Biren (JEB), 1983.
1983 Chronology of Waterloo 54

JULY 25: Barbara arrived with Rhea at Northwoods in upstate New York. They joined Blue and Quinn on the 21st day of their walk from New York City to Seneca.

JULY 26: Barbara walked from Trumansburg to Ovid Center, N.Y. with Blue, Quinn, Rhea, and Donna.

JULY 28: Walk was joined by Jun Song, Terri, Lisa, and Kitrinka. The entire group reached the Encampment that afternoon.

JULY 29: We spent most of the day at camp and joined Jun Song for part of her daily walk around the Army depot.

JULY 30: We joined with 75 other women in New York City Women’s Pentagon Action’s Feminist Walk, from Seneca Falls to the Encampment. In the town of Waterloo, a mob blocked our way at the bridge. We sat to diffuse potential violence and to insist on our constitutional right to pass. Fifty-four were arrested and taken to the local jail.

JULY 31: We were transported at 5 a.m. from jai to the Interlaken Junior High School and were held in the cafeteria for five days, as we refused to give our names or cooperate in any way with this illegal arrest. Women from the Encampment began vigiling outside the school and were harassed by local townspeople. The governor declared a “state of emergency” and state police were brought in.

AUGUST 3: We were taken to the Seneca County Fair Grounds to a barn that had been converted to a courtroom. After processing 14 of us individually, each of whom refused to give her name and most of whom refused to walk, the judge finally yielded to our demand to be heard as a group. We were all brought in and allowed to make our statement. Charges were dismissed and even our fingerprints and mug shots were returned to us. We returned to the Encampment, where Barbara spent another week before returning home.