The Commission was founded in February, 1978 and became incorporated with the state of Colorado on November 24, 1978. It was awarded 501 c(3) status in August, 1988.
Throughout its 29 year history, the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission has served as an alternative voice committed to raising community consciousness regarding the protection of human rights, the elimination of oppressive foreign and domestic policies, nonviolent options for conflict resolution, an end to the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons, and environmental sustainability. The Commission’s consistent effort has been the promotion of peace through justice and nonviolence. We hold the belief that one by one, we can make a difference and create positive change for the betterment of society as a whole.
Community Needs that We Meet
The Pikes Peak area community is supported by an economic base of large military installations, high-tech manufacturing, and tourism. Social and religious conservatives dominate the politics of the community. Consequently, most of the local print and electronic media reflect a strong right-of-center political orientation. The Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission presents new issues, and perspectives on existing issues, that are usually not addressed within our community. In collaboration and partnership with other like-minded organizations, and drawing on the wisdom of such peacemakers as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Commission addresses local, national, and global social justice and environmental issues. We strive to identify with victims of injustice, to better understand our own roles in unjust systems, and to encourage and support those in the community who wish to take nonviolent action for justice. We offer educational opportunities that empower people to choose nonviolence in all areas of their lives, and publicly oppose violence and social injustices. We provide educational programs, forums for public discussions, and an array of experiential workshops presenting new, nonviolent, and loving perspectives on many of the issues plaguing our community, region, and planet. The Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission promotes a necessary paradigm shift that advocates living more consciously, responding nonviolently in all situations, and embracing a radical social change required to reverse current economic and environmental injustices.
Highlights of PPJPC’s History
During the 1980’s, the Commission addressed U.S. policies in Central America, human rights violations particularly in El Salvador and in our own prison system, proliferation of nuclear weapons, and support of local farmers.
Pro-bono legal counseling was offered to those seeking ‘CO’ status.
Rocky Flats was the ‘smoking gun’ in Colorado and much effort was directed toward exposing the truth of its operations.
Teach-ins and prayer vigils raised awareness—of the Space Command and Space Operations Center (now Falcon AFB) recognizing these entities as developments to increase first strike capabilities of the U.S. military and of the role of U.S. policy in the violence perpetrated in Central America.
In 1988, PPJPC member Peter Sprunger-Froese planted a garden inside Falcon AFB to symbolize the belief that “Our security is in returning the Earth to its intended purpose—to provide vegetation and relationship of mutuality with human beings. Falcon Air Force Station is a human invention that threatens the security of human and ecological well-being.”
As a statement of conscience several Commission members expressed their objection to war by becoming war tax resisters.
The Commission worked to stop uranium mining in the state because it was both contaminating the environment and facilitating the arms race.
A Task Force studied the causes of hunger and homelessness and promoted the merits of buying locally.
The Commission’s work during the 1990’s was shaped by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War leading to economic sanctions on Iraq. The Commission’s strong stance against the sanctions motivated four PPJPC members to travel to Iraq in 1999 as a statement of conscience in opposition to the sanctions and to learn first-hand their devastating effects on Iraqi civilians, especially children.
Out of a stance of compassion for humanity and the earth, and in opposition to consumerism and militarism, some Commission members made a personal commitment to use alternative means of transportation—basically walking, biking, and use of public transport. In celebration of alternative energy and personal creativity, the Commission supported a nationwide effort to reduce fossil fuel dependency.
Work continued to expose environmental contamination by the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons factory and the transport of nuclear waste. Activists demonstrated against the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, known as WIPP, an ill-conceived plan to store nuclear waste in underground salt caves in northern New Mexico and use I-25 as the nuclear waste transport route.
In opposition to U.S. military spending, and specifically the use of a $30,000,000,000 secret budget for military intelligence and weapons research, peace activists gathered at Buckley Air National Guard Base to challenge its spy satellite project.
PPJPC joined other voices in standing against Amendment 2, the Constitutional change in Colorado that denied civil rights protection to gays and lesbians. Amendment 2, which initially passed, was later determined to be unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Work in opposition to the death penalty gained momentum in 1994 when Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, addressed the public in PPJPC’s annual speaker forum.
In coalition with a national movement, PPJPC lobbied and demonstrated against the proliferation of ‘control unit’ prisons, particularly in Florence and Canõn City. Representatives participated in national meetings.
Extensive work was done in the area of prison reform and advocacy for political prisoners. Members organized and facilitated protests on behalf of political prisoners, and offered hospitality and transformation to family members visiting their loved ones in Florence.
In 1996 the Commission focused on “economic nonviolence”—maintaining that addressing the systemic causes of violence is the only way to peace, and that violence typically emerges out of economic systems that place relative value on life, race, class, nationality, sexual preferences, beauty, athletic prowess and material possessions.
As the new millennium opened, the Commission focused on telling the untold story of the Iraqi sanctions and depleted uranium. Numerous speaking engagements, post card campaigns, vigils, and congressional visits were carried out to raise public awareness as to the effect of the U.S. led economic sanctions against Iraq.
The dawn of 9/11brought a great deal of anger, sorrow and frustration. The Commission held ‘listening sessions’ and organized monthly peace rallies to keep Gandhi’s vision of nonviolence before us. The Commission bannered weekly in downtown Colorado Springs promoting nonviolence and opposing war.
On October 26, 2002—the first anniversary of the signing of the Patriot Act into law—PPJPC sponsored an educational forum to raise public awareness of the infringement of civil liberties that the new law legalized.
The Commission joined a statewide coalition in opposing war in Iraq and hosted a peace rally on February 15, 2003, that drew approximately 4000 participants from around the state in saying “NO” to war.
Throughout the past, and in the present, the consistent message of the Commission’s demonstrations is justice through nonviolence.
In June of 2004, the PPJPC Board, Staff and a number of volunteers completed a yearlong visioning process, using the “Appreciative Inquiry” model, to discern the core strengths of the Commission and to focus our goals and objectives toward accomplishment by the Commission’s 30th Anniversary in 2008.
In November of 2004 a program of military and ‘CO’ counseling was initiated to assist individuals involved in or concerned over the current extensions of military engagement in the Middle East and the possible implementation of military draft in the future.