Category Archives: Events

Supporters vigil in Crescent to protest Manning sentence

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08-Manning OKC Crescent 7-27-2013 8-37-38 PM

Thirteen Oklahoma residents, from Tulsa, Stillwater and Oklahoma City, gathered in Crescent for a candlelight vigil on the evening after the sentence for the Wikileaks whistleblower was announced.

OCC statement on sentence.


2-2013-08-21 manning crescent1

1-2013-08-21 manning crescent2

On his personal blog, OCC Legal Director James M. Branum reflects on the Manning case, his work representing war resisters, as well as his thoughts about supporting Manning in Oklahoma. He also shares his photos from the vigil.

The Edmond Sun reported on the event. Their story and photo slideshow can be found here.

Announcing Oklahoma Conscience Award event, May 11, honoring Cheyenne Peace Chief

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Lawrence Hart
The 2013 Oklahoma Conscience Award goes to …lawrence_hart160

Cheyenne Peace Chief and Mennonite Pastor Lawrence Hart

What: OCCPR Oklahoma Conscience Award Ceremony and Fundraiser
When: Saturday, May 11, 5 pm
Where: Church of the Open Arms, 3131 N. Penn., Oklahoma City

Join us for a simple ceremony in which we will highlight some of Mr. Hart’s contributions and service to his people, to Oklahoma and to the Earth and all its people. The program will also include an annual report about OCCPR’s work throughout the year providing legal support to conscientious objectors and other war resisters, as well as education and outreach on ending war and building global understanding and a culture of peace and justice.

The event is free and all are welcome. However, donations are appreciated, as this is OCCPR’s primary fundraiser for the year. We are funded solely by community support. If unable to attend, but wishing to make a donation, please see the mailing address and online donation link below. Donations are tax deductible.

Light refreshments will be served.

OCCPR is a local chapter of the War Resisters League, and a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network. For more info about OCCPR, see

The Cheyenne-Arapaho tribal newspaper recently did a cover story on Lawrence Hart. This link is to the PDF copy of the paper (which is large and takes a while to download):

Oklahoma Center for Conscience
c/o Joy Mennonite Church
504 NE 16
Oklahoma City, OK 73104Donate online

Facebook page

Download the flier, to print and share.

OCCPR to recognize and celebrate Oklahoma conscientious objectors

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Conscientious Objectors of Oklahoma to be remembered and honored by peace group at 5/12 event in OKC

On May 12, the Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research will celebrate International Conscientious Objectors Day with its second annual Oklahoma Conscience Award Ceremony and Fundraiser. Conscientious Objectors Day is observed around the world each May 15. This year OCCPR will recognize conscientious objectors from Oklahoma or with an Oklahoma connection (stationed at one of the state’s military bases, did alternative service in Oklahoma, or did time in prison in Oklahoma for refusing to serve), including COs from the 1940s to the present.

The event will be held at Mayflower Congregational UCC Church, 3901 NW 63rd in Oklahoma City, starting at 7pm. The program will include a presentation of certificates to COs or their families, as well as a video featuring interviews with Oklahoma COs and current peace and justice activists who are inspired by them. Musically talented members of the local community, many of whom are members of OCCPR supporting organizations or other peace activists, will provide entertainment. Light refreshments will be served.

The public is invited to attend this free event. Donations will be gratefully accepted to assist the organization in its ongoing work.

Rena Guay, OCCPR Executive Director, says that meeting numerous Oklahoma COs this year has been an eye-opening experience. “I’ve been struck by how many COs from past conflicts are among us, throughout Oklahoma, seemingly average hardworking Oklahomans, who once made a very un-average decision about war.”

“They’ve never sought public acclaim for it, and they shy from this attention. Yet, when we speak to them, they say their refusal, sometimes decades ago, to wage war, and to instead “wage peace” through humanitarian service, was something that has continued to impact their thinking and behavior. It is a major milestone of their lives that almost no one knows about. Our small recognition seeks to give to them this missing public value for their act of conscience.”

“We will also have a moment to remember the many Oklahoma COs who remain unknown, or who have already passed away,” Guay said “Their families are invited to join us, or contact us if they would like for their loved one to be recognized in memorium.”

As the local affiliate of the War Resisters League, OCCPR informs the public, especially young people, about military recruitment, peace-oriented career alternatives, and how to document CO status that can be recognized by the Selective Service should the draft be reinstated. It helps prepare documentation for these proactive COS, and works with the Center on Conscience in Washington to archive and preserve them. The group also serves as the Oklahoma representative for the Bradley Manning Support Network, and works with the GI Rights Network, the Military Law Task Force, Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, the Peace Alliance, SOA Watch, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and other organizations to educate Oklahomans about war and militarism, and positive advocacy and action to end war and to support nonviolent conflict resolution on a global level.

OCCPR maintains a legal support program to assist those in military service who come to realize they cannot participate in war, to provide them with information about the process of obtaining a CO discharge as defined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and, when necessary, to retain legal counsel during appeals. The group has recently broadened its outreach to provide more public education on matters of conscience and war, through its own annual journal, and in op-eds and analysis published in periodicals and on the Web.

In every war, there have been those who, following their conscience, have refused to be trained to kill in what they believe to be an immoral activity. The U.S. military has come to allow for these resisters, through either programs of alternative, humanitarian, service, or, in today’s volunteer military, through a process by which those who have developed deeply held religious or moral convictions against war can be documented and, when accepted as sincere, provided an honorable discharge.

OCCPR was founded in 2004 by members of Joy Mennonite Church, Catholic Peace Fellowship, Veterans for Peace, Oklahoma City Friends Meeting (Quakers) and independent activists. It is funded by Oklahoma religious organizations, peace groups and individual citizens. For more information, see visit or call 405-773-4741.

2011 Oklahoma City Peace Fest gives us a chance to visit with old friends and make new ones

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Tabling at 2011 Peace Fest

The annual Peace Festival, organized by the Oklahoma City Peace House, is always a great opportunity for our outreach efforts. We see lots of people we know of course, but what really thrills us each year are the new connections we make with folks who want to know what’s happening in central Oklahoma to help stop war, support resisters and foster a world of mutual cooperation. At our booth, we try to answer that question!

OCC fundraiser on April 2 will honor Father John Vrana with the first annual Mertens Peace Award, Peggy Johnson to perform

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On Saturday, April 2, The Oklahoma Center for Conscience will present the first annual Mertens Peace Award to Father John Vrana, at a ceremony at Mayflower UCC Church. A native of Oklahoma City who lived and worked here most of his life, Father Vrana was a local diocesan priest who took a public and sometimes controversial role in seeking racial justice, ending war and promoting nonviolence during the years of the civil rights struggle and Vietnam war.

The ceremony will be part of an OCC fundraiser to which the public is invited. Festivities begin at 7pm and the evening will close with a concert of peace songs from local singer/songwriter Peggy Johnson. The event is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted at the door. Beverages and light refreshments will be offered. Mayflower UCC is located at 3901 Northwest 63rd Street in Oklahoma City.

Father Vrana was nominated for the award by Marianne Mertens, as someone whom she felt should be recognized for his long commitment to peace and his courage to take moral but unpopular stands. Marianne and her husband Art, who passed away last year, were founding members of OCC.

Rena Guay, OCC’s Executive Director, said that “the Mertens embody the kind of selfless service to grassroots peace and justice causes that we seek to honor with our award, so it is fitting that it carry their name. Their actions over their lives and the people they have helped and inspired are their legacy, a legacy which we hope to echo each year when we present it to a deserving individual or group.”

“By recognizing the peace leaders of our past, we hope to inspire a new generation to follow in their footsteps, and so we build on their history and create a more just and peaceful future for all,” she said. “Father Vrana is such an individual and we are proud to be able to present him with the first annual Mertens Peace Award.”

Father Vrona is currently residing at St. Ann’s Nursing Home, where he is visited by those whose lives he touched through his many years of service. Because of his poor health, he will not be able to attend the ceremony; his award will be accepted by Marianne Mertens.

OCC was founded in 2004 by Catholic Peace Fellowship, Joy Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City Friends Meeting (Quakers) and Veterans for Peace as an organization dedicated to ending and preventing war and to support those who resist war as a matter of conscience. For more information, see or call 405-598-7362.

Those wishing to donate to OCC in honor of Art Mertens or Father John Vrana can send a check or money order to: Oklahoma Center for Conscience, 504 NE 16th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73104.

Press Release: Vrana award

March to Support Alleged Whistleblower Bradley Manning

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Bradley ManningManning, an Oklahoma native, faces 52 years in prison for exposing war crimes

What: Solidarity March in Support of Bradley Manning
When: Thursday, August 12, 8pm
Where: Corner of NE 16th and Lincoln to Oklahoma State Capitol

This Thursday, August 12, Oklahomans will show support for and solidarity with Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking documents about the Afghanistan War, with a march at dusk near the state capitol. The Army intelligence analyst, originally from Cresent, Oklahoma, is being held in the brig at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

The action is being organized locally by the Oklahoma Center for Conscience, with support from the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Private First Class Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq, stands accused of disclosing a classified video depicting American troops in Iraq shooting civilians from an Apache helicopter in 2007. Eleven people were killed, including two Reuters employees, and two children were critically injured. No charges have been filed against the soldiers who did the killing.

News sources have also speculated about Manning’s involvement in the leak of over 90,000 secret documents (collectively known as the Afghanistan “war logs”) made public by WikiLeaks, a website that publishes leaked material anonymously.

James M. Branum, an attorney that works with OCC on military law cases, calls the Pentagon’s treatment of Manning “extreme” and designed to set up the case “as an example of the punishment waiting for others who would consider exposing violations of military regs and international law.”

“We are saying that exposing war crimes is not a crime,” he said.

The whistleblower behind the Vietnam era’s Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, has called Mr. Manning a hero.  ”I admire the courage of Bradley Manning for sacrificing himself to make the public aware of the futility of the war in Afghanistan,” says Ellsberg.

“Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime,” says former Marine Corporal Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist, a group teaming up with the Bradley Manning Support Network to raise funds for Manning’s defense.

More info:

Bradley Manning march press release