Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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Spokane peace activist hopes protests raise public awareness
Story and photo by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff
(From the May 20, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)
Spokane peace activist Al Mangan protests at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Spokane. His sign reads, “Support Our Troops. Impeach Bush.” (IR photo)
Though he is fast approaching 82, Al Mangan is as active as ever. He can be found three times a day in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Spokane, reading glasses perched on his nose, a newspaper in hand, and leaning on his sign that says “Support our troops, impeach Bush.”
Mangan is dedicated to communicating to others the message that the recent wars this country has been involved in are inhumane and unjustified. Mangan believes that the current war the United States is fighting in Iraq is unwarranted and unconstitutional and blames President George W. Bush for the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqui civilians.
Mangan became involved in peace activism over 20 years ago, near the end of the Cold War. He was appalled at the massive threat nuclear weapons pose to the world. Mangan believes that nuclear weapons were never designed for defensive purposes and are actually manufactured to launch devastating offensive attacks. According to Mangan, the threat these weapons pose to innocent people is absolutely unwarranted.
He protests at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Spokane every day. He writes letters and e-mails to the White House and other politicians and attempts to meet with various political representatives to help them to understand his viewpoint. He also joins fellow members of the Peace and Justice Action League on Tuesday afternoons on the corner of Mission and Hamilton for a vigil to protest the war. He really hopes that his actions will help people to “think about the issues.”
“We affect the people around us,” he said. “I hope I’m like a stone in a pond, sending out waves.”
Mangan was not always involved in the peace movement. He is a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War.
“At the time I thought it was necessary,” he said. “When Pearl Harbor was bombed, I thought the U.S. was justified in responding.”
Now he thinks that perhaps preemptive actions could have obviated both wars.
Mangan cites faith as the driving force behind his activism: If one really believes in Christ’s teachings of love for both neighbors and enemies, then war simply is not justified.
“We are not acting in accordance with the message Christ brought,” he said. “This isn’t just a political issue, it’s a moral and faith issue.”
Mangan points to the countless civilians killed in numerous wars as evidence for the immorality of war.
“Right now there is no bigger issue that this,” he said. “This is a human rights crusade.”
Mangan is a long-time active member of both the Peace and Justice Action League and Pax Christi, a non-profit, non-government, Catholic international peace movement. Pax Christi is an advocacy group that rejects war and all other forms of violence and attempts to foster respect for all of God’s creation. Members of Pax Christi are dedicated to creating a better world.
“Al Mangan is an inspiration to me,” said Judy Butler, a retired attorney and fellow member of Pax Christi. “He works very hard and he’s dedicating his life to peace. He’s had a wealth of experience in life. He’s so concerned about our country and this war that he’s devoting his life to bring it to people’s attention.”