“Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice” is a group of individuals located in the Berkshires of Massachusetts that operates according to the principles of nonviolence and right relationships that have been articulated by different road maps for peace-building, including the Kingian Philosophy, the five spheres of peace, and the Earth Charter. We believe in applying methods of nonviolent action as we strive to help build a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.
Open to all people interested in promoting peace and justice who live, work, vacation in, or visit Berkshire County
REGULAR MEETINGS are held every Thursday, 7:30 to 9:30 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield, MA, 175 Wendell Av. (one block up Broad St. from Rts. 7 & 20, and on the corner of Wendell Ave. and Broad St.) Meetings on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays (and some 5th Thursdays) are devoted to showing educational films followed by lively discussions. Regular business meetings are held on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays.
VIGILS FOR PEACE – in cooperation with Berkshire Community College’s Global Issues Resource Organization (GIRO) – are held each Thursday at Park Square in Pittsfield between 5 and 6 PM.
Other activities have included:
- helping to clean up a Pittsfield neighborhood;
- organizing bus trips to demonstrations in Washington, DC, and bus/train trips to demonstrations in NY City;
- organizing and participating in demonstrations and events promoting peace & justice;
- cooperating with GIRO to put on a program, “Is the military your best option?,” which compared what the military says about itself – especially to potential recruits – with some of the realities of life in the military;
- arranging and hosting workshops on the Selective Service System and conscientious objection;
- [successfully] petitioning the Pittsfield City Council to go on record in opposition to harmful elements of the Patriot Act, and, on another occasion, in opposition to the war in Iraq;
- participating as a contingent in Pittsfield’s 4th of July parade;
- working [successfully] to have the Pittsfield Public School System change its way of handling the No Child Left Behind Act’s opt-out provision;
- visiting local high schools in order to provide interested students with important career information, including information about military service that the recruiters don’t mention;
- [successfully] encouraging Mayor James Ruberto of Pittsfield to support Mayors for Peace;
- holding a “Peace Tea” so that people from area groups with interests similar to ours could meet each other;
- arranging talks at the Berkshire Athenaeum on reductions in veterans’ benefits, and on the first hand experiences of an Israeli woman and American man in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
- helping to collect donated goods and packing them into four shipping containers (each 40’ x 8’ x 8’) for shipment to Honduras to aid the poor;
- serving as the local facilitating group for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Eyes Wide Open exhibit;
- creating and distributing pamphlets and other literature on issues related to peace and justice;
- writing letters to newspaper editors;
- supporting petition campaigns to help guide legislators on important issues;
- making a trip to Brattleboro to congratulate the town for voting to criminally indict Bush and Cheney, and to congratulate 200+ high school students for conducting a school walkout peace rally on the steps of their high school; This was followed by joining local activists in their spirited weekly march the length of their main street and back. (A dozen BCP&J members made the trip.)
- conducting a march and moving church service marking the fifth anniversary of the war against Iraq; read the names of the home towns of all service men and women who were killed in Iraq during 2007, and displayed a map marked with dots showing the large scale and distribution of tragedy across the USA; (About 45 people participated. Over 80 participated in a similar march and service two years earlier.)
- planning and carrying out a major conference on peacemaking, war avoidance and the Constitution – featuring Scott Ritter, Joseph Gerson and others (105 attended.)
- traveling to NYC in October 2011 and marching five miles with Occupy activists (five BCP&J members made the trip.)
- BCP&J sponsored several speakers, sometimes in cooperation with a peace committee at the First Congregational Church. Speakers have included Randy Kehler (former head of the national Freeze movement), Takaaki Morikawa (Hiroshima survivor), Kelly Brannigan and Julie Huntsman speaking about their successful efforts to have their central NY state towns prohibit fracking, Dr. Michael Kaplan speaking twice – once about the need for Single Payer health care for our nation and once about his efforts to bring after-earthquake health care to Haiti.
- In July 2012, BCP&J sponsored a “Bank Fair” at which all 12 banks and 5 credit unions in Berkshire County were invited to present information about their banking services and answer questions about their business standards and the ethical nature of their business practices. Only one credit union and no banks came. This demonstrated that nearly all the institutions providing banking services in the county were eager to have their customers’ money but not willing to tell them about the ethical aspects of what they do with it.
- In August 2012 a pot luck supper was held with Adnan Rashid, a recipient of the Daniel Pearl Award working temporarily with The Berkshire Eagle. Mr. Rashid spoke about his pre- and post-visit perceptions of the United States, Pakistan, and U.S.-Pakistan relations. Mr. Rashid also answered many questions. (23 attended.)
- In February 2013 a Violence Prevention Gathering was held at Berkshire Community College (see Event News tab).