Peacemakers celebrated in Sebastopol

By Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, September 15, 2021

Peace Wall founderMichael Gillotti introduced this year's honorees: Mary Moore, Adrienne Lauby, Fred Ptucha and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who did not attend the morning ceremony. Photo by Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine

On Saturday, Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sebastopol and west county residents gathered at the Sebastopol plaza for the 6th annual Living Peace Wall induction ceremony.

This year’s honorees are Mary Moore, Adrienne Lauby, Fred Ptucha and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who did not attend the morning ceremony.

Michael Gillotti, who is the chair of the Peace Wall Honoree Selection Committee, told SoCoNews that the committee selected Lee to be honored as a peacemaker for casting the sole vote in Congress against the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Against Terrorists in 2001 just days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Lee has received scrutiny around her position on Israel and Palestine from several local activists, namely the Ad Hoc Committee to Call Out PEPs — individuals deemed “Progressive Except for Palestine.” (See the Soconews article on the protest HERE.)

Despite some backlash on Lee’s position during the ceremony Gillotti honored Lee by telling the crowd to give her a round of applause so loud that she could hear it all the way from Oakland.

Voice trembling with emotion, Gillotti discussed Lee’s sole vote against the AUMF.

“In my opinion, we need more Barbara Lees. The drums of war were beating very strongly and very loudly at that time. Anyone who opposed it (the war) was considered a traitor. She looked inside, she got in touch with her conscience and got in touch with her moral compass and for that I admire her deeply,” Gillotti said.

Gillotti, who was the emcee of the poignant Saturday ceremony, also played a John Lennon medley of “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine.”

Ptucha, who’s a Vietnam veteran, was honored as a peacemaker for his work with humanitarian projects in Vietnam where helped build homes and other infrastructure. Ptucha was also one of the founders of the Veterans for Peace Chapter 71 and as co-founder of Climbers for Peace.

Moore was honored for her advocacy and work on anti-nuclear issues and for fighting to keep the Diablo Nuclear plant offline. Moore was one of the nuclear protesters who occupied then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s office for a number of days.

Lauby was honored for her well-known work on issues such as homelessness and disability rights. Lauby is the co-producer for “Pushing the Limits,” a program about disabilities on KPFA and works with the Homeless Action group.

“The city of Sebastopol is proud of its peace wall,” Sebastopol Mayor Una Glass said. “We call ourselves Peacetown and there is a reason for that, we believe in peace. On today, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, celebrating the peace wall is particularly poignant. 9/11 was an outcome of failing to wage peace, an outcome that results when we have an inability to hear and when we fail to address injustice, disrespect, poverty and inequality.

“That failure breeds armed conflict. Two inspired residents of Sebastopol came together with the idea and received the support of the city government to create our peace wall. This wall was brought together by one who experienced war and by one who actively opposed it,” Glass said, referring to wall co-creators Richard Retecki and Gillotti. “Both in acknowledgement that vigorous work to prevent conflict is of paramount importance. The peace wall celebrates actions taken to promote the cause of peace. The peace wall is about publicly acknowledging these actions taken.”

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