UCC president denounces removal of peaceful protestors on Vieques
June 2000

In early May, UCC President the Rev. John H. Thomas joined the chorus of religious and social justice leaders denouncing the U.S. military's forced removal of peaceful protestors in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
      "It is with tremendous sorrow that I learned today of the forcible removal of the people who have helped secure a year of peace by occupying the restricted lands since the death of David Sanes last April," said Thomas in his statement. "These persons, including several members of the United Church of Christ in Puerto Rico, have been a prayerful and passionate witness to peace and justice in Vieques. Their presence, far from disturbing the peace, has led to the first signs of a renewal of the land and the sea surrounding the island in over six decades."
      Thomas and Bernice Powell Jackson, executive minister-elect of Justice and Witness Ministries, were among the UCC leaders who traveled to Vieques in March to visit those who had been camped out in the restricted areas of their own country for more than a year.
      "We saw first-hand the damage wrought by 60 years of military practice, especially the use of the military bombardment of the eastern end of the island without regard for the persons who once called this bombing range home," said Thomas. "We marveled at the natural beauty of the island, grieved at the massive environmental destruction and contamination of the island and surrounding waters, and rejoiced both at the courage of the people and signs of life which had begun to return after a year of peace. Our visits with the residents of Vieques, and our conversations with Puerto Rican religious and political leaders... convinced us that we must not let one more bomb be dropped on Vieques."
      The complete text of the statement can be found in the news release section of the UCC website www.ucc.org.