Don Timmerman spends his Saturdays out on street corners around Milwaukee. He wants to end the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. On Saturday November 20th, he and about six other people, including his wife, were on the corner of 16th and Greenfield. They were holding signs that promoted peace and ending war. Numerous people were honking their horns as they drove by. Some were holding signs up that said to honk if they wanted peace and to end the war. It was a noisy corner between noon and one pm that Saturday.
Peace Action organized the vigils. They are held on a different corner each week in Milwaukee. What started in 2003 has become a long term effort to try to end the wars the US troops are still attending. Peace Action of Wisconsin posts the locations of the vigils on their web page. Anyone is invited to carry signs and stand in allegiance against war. It is always at noon every Saturday.
Timmerman has volunteered for Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community in Milwaukee for 27 years except for right after the time he was attacked outside the house on the street. He ended up in the hospital for a while because someone beat him up and robbed him near Christmas. He says he forgave the person. Right after that he went up to northern Wisconsin for a while to recover. While they were up in Park Falls, Wisconsin he and his wife started protesting the Iraq war there “We had a weekly vigil there every Tuesday. They were doing it at the same time we were doing it up there down here in Milwaukee” Timmerman said. He and his wife came back to Milwaukee after he got healthy enough to volunteer at Casa Maria again. They have only been back close to two months.
Everyone who works at Casa Maria in Milwaukee is a volunteer. They take in homeless women and children. Casa Maria provides clothing and food and other items people may need. It is located at 1131 N. 21st Street in Milwaukee, which is between Juneau and Highland and has been there since 1966.
There is another house named Pat’s House which was named after a Catholic nun named Sister Pat. “She was very much concerned about families who were homeless. At Pat’s House we have two families who need more time in order to get themselves settled.” Timmerman added.
They have other houses for women and men who have trouble finding housing because of mental illnesses. All of the houses are on the same block. They have another house for volunteers, Timmerman said. “Harmony house is for volunteers and for refugees who are coming over because of a situation where they have been persecuted in their own country so we take them and give them a place to stay until they get situated somehow.”
In an explanation of how they live, Timmerman stated “We are a non-violent community. We strive for non-violence like Martin Luther King, Ghandi and Jesus Christ. We attempt to live it out in our lives. War taxes, we refuse to pay taxes for war. So you have to live simply in order to live below the poverty level otherwise you have to pay taxes. We’d rather be poor than support a war. We believe that people have to stand up for principles that they feel are right. The only way we are going to change things in our society is if the people down below start changing and refuse to go along with the system”
Timmerman said he met a woman while he was a priest and ended up leaving the priesthood and marrying her. His wife Roberta was with him Saturday holding a sign across the street. “I used to be a Roman Catholic priest, now I am an Episcopalian priest. We have always been involved in the Peace Movement because at Casa Maria we see that as a cause of homelessness. People think, well they’re homeless because they are just lazy or whatever. Situations occur and society is geared toward where you are going to have homeless people because it is basically geared toward the wealthy” he said.
“We try to change things so its easier for people to be good and to live a decent life so that they don’t remain homeless and don’t have to struggle constantly just for their basic necessities” Timmerman said. He pointed out a man across the street with and anti-war sign who works as a volunteer at Casa Maria and lives in the house. Many of the people holding signs on the street corner that day were also volunteers at Casa Maria.
Steve Shea has been attending protests against the war since February of 2003. He has been out almost every Saturday since then. He is on the board at Peace Action. This past year there was no large protest on the anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. “I think it was because the Iraq war isn’t as big an issue as it used to be. The afghan war is actually the bigger issue now” Shea said.
Shea talked about who turns out for the protests. “We get new people. People stop for a while and start back up. The better the weather the better the turn out. We’ve got hard core people, like me, who will show up no matter what.” Shea pointed to a man across the street named Jim and said that he was hard core too and shows up every Saturday to the corner protests.
More photos of the protest can be found in a slide show on Associated Content. They were all taken by Kim Krause.
If you would like more information on the weekly protests you can view the schedule on Peace Action’s web page.