Chicago peace activist and “Bright Light of the Second City” Kathy Kelly, three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, is in the midst of a three-month stint in a Lexington, Kentucky federal prison. According to Democracy Now, Kelly, along with another activist, “was arrested after offering bread and an indictment against drone warfare.” (Click the above link to see the interview.)
Specifically, on June 1, 2014, Kelly carried bread and a letter across a line at Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force Base. At that location, a squadron operates weaponized drones over Afghanistan.
As Kelly said to Democracy Now, “Afghanistan has been an epicenter of drone warfare. And a good symbol for people in Afghanistan is breaking bread. I carried a loaf of bread and a letter, wanting to talk to the commandant. We thought it was important to know how many people were killed by Whiteman Air Force Base on that day.”
Kelly was tried and convicted in federal court in December 2014. She is the co-coordinator of Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, “Kelly has made numerous trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, organizing a young people’s non-violence group called Afghan Peace Volunteers, and recording and writing about the testimony of those whose families and friends have been killed in drone attacks.”
Her current confinement in Kelly’s fourth is a federal facility. She’s “been jailed in various county jails and other kinds of lockups more times than I can count,” Kelly said in a February 11, 2015 article she wrote for consortiumnews.com.
Kelly’s letter from prison continues: “’We must begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society,’” said Dr. [Martin Luther] King, and it’s a shift that in many ways we’ve yet to make. He called for a rapid shift and said, ‘We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive.’”
“Poignancy” is the word that embodies Kelly’s writing. Describing a recent day in prison, she says, “every day, here in Atwood Hall, prisoners long to receive fairness, forgiveness and love but instead offer these treasures to those around them. The other day, at a choir rehearsal, we practiced a song called “Breaking the Chains.” The lively refrain, ‘I hear the chains falling’ filled the small chapel. Swaying and clapping, we could believe another world is coming.”