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imperialism & war | media criticism

Baltimore Indymedia: Phillip Berrigan, Anti-War Activist, Dies at Home

feature from baltimore indymedia about Phillip Berrigan
Legendary anti-war activist Phillip Berrigan died of cancer on the night of Friday, December 6 at the age of 79. From burning draft files with napalm at the height of the Vietnam War to pounding nuclear missile silos into plowshares, Berrigan, a former Jesuit priest, had been involved in non-violent direct action against the U.S. war machine for nearly four decades. He spent eleven of those years in prison, and was the author of numerous books. He also co-founded the Jonah House, a Baltimore resistance community, where he passed away surrounded by family and close friends.

Read: obituary | tribute

More coverage is available from the December 4 edition of Democracy Now!, archived Berrigan interviews, his autobiography, the Disarmed and Dangerous biography, a 1989 interview, a 1997 profile, his Baltimore Sun obituary, corporate media coverage, and in a video interview with Berrigan.

in memory 08.Dec.2002 14:45


We walked across the country with the Hiroshima Flame. The flame lit from burning embers of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima over 57 years ago. It was brought back to this country to purify the fire that had been misused by humans. All throughout the walk there were prayer ceremonies and it came with us to vigil at many of our nations nuclear sites such as Hanford, Livermore Laboratories, Lockheed, Los Alamos Labs and Oakridge. We carried it to the April 20, 2002 Peace Rallies in Washington, D.C. where over 50,000 people gathered to stand in unison with their messages of peace to the policymakers of war. The flame journeyed to the building that housed the bomber known as the Enola Gay, the bomber that once dropped a rain of death never before seen on this planet.

We also journeyed to a home in Baltimore that held the deep resonance of peace and contemplation. The very walls themselves held the mysteries, the love and the overwhelming convictions of the handful of people who lived there. The flame was brought to rest there for a few days and we shared prayer and meals and stories. When I first arrived, I had never met Phillip, Elizabeth, Ardeth or Carol before. I had heard the name Berrigan before but knew only he was an activist. They all were, yet they were more or perhaps they embodied the full meaning of an activist. They not only fought for the issues that compelled them to action, they also lived their daily lives in harmony with those beliefs. Taking care to consume less, live sustainably and foster community. They paid for their beliefs in prison terms, over and over again.

After spending three months on this pilgrimage with the flame, Jonah House was truly the perfect resting place before continuing on to the World Trade Center. I remember standing in a circle in their living room, all of us in our own form of prayer and united for our desire for nuclear abolition, for world peace and sanity to return to humanity. I will hold that has a special memory. I intend on learning more of his life, I believe it something worth knowing.

To Elizabeth, his family and loved ones and to all the thousands he has inspired through the years, and to Phillip himself, I bow three times and may we all continue the work that is so necessary.

Namu myo ho renge kyo
Namu myo ho renge kyo
Namu myo ho renge kyo

Conspiracy? 08.Dec.2002 15:48


I'm not prepared to believe he just keeled over and died. Somebody sinister may be to blame... hmm.

shut up 08.Dec.2002 20:06

mixmaster white chocolate in the house

treeman, usually I don't mind the conspiracy shit, (whether or not you were joking) but a. there's basically nothing to suggest foul play here (he had cancer, for christsake) and b. it seems a little disrespectful. The man did plenty to advance the cause while he was alive, let's at least let him rest in peace.

Cancer poisoning conspiracy??? 08.Dec.2002 20:28


Geez. Why would I joke? I'm just exploring a possibility that industrial-military interests may have been involved in this. If you want to be closed-minded, be that way.

perhaps I was a bit curt 09.Dec.2002 02:10

mixmaster white chocolate in the house

for which I apologize. It just seemed a bit disrespectful to drop the big C-word in an immediate response to an event like this, given that it was pure speculation or, if you have evidence, you didn't choose to share it. People often do simply 'keel over and die,' especially when they have serious illnesses, and this includes prominent progressive activists as much as any other group of people. If you think there's reason to suspect that something more sinister occurred than has been reported, (Wellstone, for example, was almost certainly offed by Bush and friends as far as I'm concerned) then by all means share your information and/or thoughts with us, but in the absence of such information I think it's more appropriate to remember Phil Berrigan as the great American he was and for what he stood for than to reflexively suspect he was somehow killed in a covert fashion. That's all I'm saying--a little respect seems in order.

If I'm willing to accept the possibility that sometimes good people simply die and it isn't necessarily a conspiracy every time, which of us is truly closed-minded?


P.S. what do you know about 'cancer poisoning'? I seem to remember that John McCain had some kind of cancer-related health complication shortly after the 2000 Republican primaries