This is a Community Announcement from the Ithaca Catholic Worker about the upcoming Peter De Mott Peace Trot, written by Garry Thomas. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit community announcements, please send them to Matt Butler at mbutler@ithacavoice.com.

The Ithaca Catholic Worker community is happy to announce that we will be holding the 13th Annual Peter De Mott Peace Trot 5k Memorial Run on Fathers’ Day, June 19, at 9:00 beginning at the Cass Park pavilion. (https://www.peterdemottpeacetrot.org/) This is the first time the Peace Trot will be held in person since the COVID pandemic.

The Peace Trot is named after Ithacan Peter De Mott, who enlisted in the Marines as a youth and served in Vietnam, something he subsequently came to deeply regret. For the rest of his life, he worked tirelessly as an anti-war activist, going to prison a number of times for non-violent Plowshares actions at several military installations. (Plowshares History – Kings Bay Plowshares 7) At the time of his death in a work accident in 2009, he left behind his widow, Ellen Grady, four daughters, a large extended family, and an even larger following of devoted friends and admirers. 

The Peace Trot was begun in 2010 to honor Peter’s life and legacy, and today serves as the most important fundraiser for the Ithaca Catholic Worker. The group’s home is the Peter De Mott Catholic Worker House at 411 South Plain Street, from which the group practices “works of mercy,” operating a food cupboard seven days a week, tithing and contributing to social and racial justice organizations, and providing hospitality, most recently to an asylum seeker from South America.  

This pacifist community, much more ecumenical than one might think, is best known for its anti-war activism. For more than 15 years, it has held a weekly peace vigil at the CVS corner every Saturday morning. It also provided support for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 action at the Kings Bay Nuclear Submarine Base in April 2018 and the ensuing Federal trial in Brunswick, GA. (https://ithacavoice.com/2019/10/letters-from-georgia-despite-guilty-verdict-kings-bay-plowshares-7-rejoice/)

In addition, for many of those 15 years, the Ithaca Catholic Worker has joined with the Upstate Drone Action Coalition in holding protests and carrying out acts of civil resistance at the Hancock Air Base in East Syracuse, from which Reaper drones were flown over Afghanistan as well as other war zones. During this time, there have been more than 150 arrests, scores of trials, and many guilty verdicts and jail sentences.

On April 28 last month, to the surprise of all involved, Judge David Gideon, who has presided over the majority of these trials in the DeWitt Town Court, admitted to a change of heart. At that day’s trial, two Ithaca Catholic Workers, one a Catholic, the other a Quaker, who had been arrested in 2019 for taking part in blockading the gates to the air base, Judge Gideon announced that given “the perilousness of the world” these days, “I’m going to take this court in a different direction and dismiss the charges against you in the interest of justice.” With this dismissal of charges, we felt that we had gotten the local legal system to think seriously about militarism and the role of non-violent peaceful action in our fragile democracy.

The Peter De Mott Peace Trot is a Fathers’ Day tradition in Ithaca, a time of community building, it supports an important cause, and is a time of great fun. It’s almost always a beautiful, sunny day. There are serious runners who complete the timed 5k in less than 20 minutes, while others do it in a brisk walk and take as much as three times longer. Some merely stroll. There is also a 1-mile “fun run,” especially for younger trotters. All are welcome.

Registration will open on-site at the Cass Park pavilion beginning at 7:30 on Sunday, June 19 or, even better, can be completed online. T-shirts, timing bibs for registered runners, food and prizes will be given out during the event.