George Lambrides Throws Down the Gauntlet
This writer has been one of the most faithful attendees at monthly meetings of the Interfaith Round Table of Washtenaw County during the last four years. Readers of our Reports are aware that from time to time, valid criticism of this group has entered these pages. Executive Director George Lambrides, failing to achieve distinction of being the man to end our peaceful vigils, turned from Faux-Friend to Stern Leader, and chipped away at my ability to freely attend IRT meetings: attempts at embarrassing introductions, threats that I wasn’t welcome in spite of their web sites’ mission statement, rules thrown down that were selectively enforced, e.g. no proselytizing, no political clothing, no leafletting.
Much to George’s chagrin, I followed the rules, so for him nothing worked. But apparently sometime this summer, he and his ten-member “Coordinating Committee” hatched a plan that was foolproof: They would state clearly on their web-site that the September kick-off meeting would be “By Invitation Only”. Then they placed two peace-thugs at the entrance door to St. Clare’s Episcopal Church (Genesis), armed with a list of “invitees”, and apparently tasked with keeping me out.
The Fly in the Ointment came in the form of the Rev. Paul Versluis, a member of the Coordinating Committee, who granted my request for an invitation to the afternoon’s meeting. The stage was set.
As I walked up to the table, I recognized one of the men sitting there: John Kotre (Mennonite, Church of the Brethren), and father-in-law to Grace Kotre, Assistant Director of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice. Hm-m-m … The other man was not known, but immediately played the part of The Heavy. Like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, he was there to say “None shall Pass!”.
Heavy claimed that my name was not on the list; therefore I could not enter the conference room. I explained that my invitation was from Paul Versluis whom I knew was in the building. Heavy continued to block my ingress to the room, and at one time grabbed me. He then said that if I entered the room, he would call the police.
I entered the room, and began conversing with past ICPJ President Joe Summers (one of those responsible for the elimination of ICPJ’s Middle East Task Force), Steve Hedquist and a few others at one of the tables. At that time Father George came over and informed me (a) he had “overrided” Paul’s invitation, and (b) if I didn’t leave he would call the police to have me escorted out. I continued my conversation with an unidentified, friendly lady.
AAPD Officers Tom Arreola and Brett Hansen entered the room, and were perfect gentlemen in their treatment of me, their holstered handguns notwithstanding. The “Trespass Notice” – Incident 09-47213 – reads “Disruptive per report [phone call from Lambrides], not in officer’s presence”. Before leaving the room I caught the gaze of Rabbi Rob Dobruisin and Federation President David Stuhlman, and couldn’t help imagining them in the roles of Tony and Currado Soprano, getting their dirty work done by their minions. I followed the officers out of the room, pausing only to snap a picture of Heavy, pictured below and here. E-mails to the list of IRT members have not turned up his name so that a reconciliation between us can commence.
The next IRT meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 20th 12:30 pm, and peace activists are urged to attend. If attendance is still restricted, there will be a protest outside Genesis, 2309 Packard Rd.
Victory in Benton Harbor
Three members of JWPF travelled across state to Benton Harbor to help our good friend Rev. Ed Pinkney become elected President of the newly formed NAACP chapter there. Threats by Whirlpool Corporation to take over leadership of this fledgling organization were thwarted. Go, Ed !!
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable” … John F. Kennedy
Celebrating six years of standing for Palestine
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends