BRIAN TERRELL — part of the dynamic Iowa peace movement

Demonstrating outside Drake University’s Knapp Center on Oct. 2, (l-r) Catholic Peace Ministry executive director Brian Terrell, Des Moines Catholic Worker communications director Mona Shaw, Iowa Peace Network coordinator Renee Espeland, Veterans For Peace (VFP) member Gil Landolt, Methodist Federation for Social Action coordinator Eloise Cranke, and Des Moines Catholic Worker and VFP member Ed Bloomer protest U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ “support for torture and attack on the Constitution.” (Photo M. Gillespie).

From left, Ed Bloomer, Rev. Chet Guin, Frank Cordaro, Renee Espeland,
Brian Terrell, Sherry Hutchison, Elton Davis. All are from Des Moines
except Terrell who is from Strangers and Guest Catholic Worker House in Maloy, IA.

Seven Arrested During Protest in Sen. Harkin's Office

These seven individuals were arrested Wednesday evening in Des Moines when they refused to leave U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin's office and allow the facility to close. A group of 15 had gathered in the office throughout the afternoon to protest continued violence in Gaza and what they perceived as Harkin's inaction. (Photo provided by demonstration organizers.)

Some Des Moines Catholic Workers
Left to right), Brian Terrell, Mona Shaw, Frank Cordaro, and Mauro Heck

Brian Terrell


Twenty-one people attended a training session on nonviolent protest at the Nov. 15 anti-war forum, organizers said.

On Tuesday, a far larger group, more than 100, stood outside the federal courthouse beside Mr. Terrell in bitter cold, holding a new set of protest signs that said,

"Say no to political grand juries," "You can subpoena us, but you will not silence us" and "Investigate Halliburton not Iowans."


New York Times"An Antiwar Forum in Iowa Brings Federal Subpoenas"

Federal Judge Asks University To Turn


Over Records Re: Anti-War Activists

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists.

In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said.

Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas.

In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum. ...

Whatever is going on, this is definitely an escalation on the part of the government’s war on dissent and clamp down on civil liberties. The fact that anything that we three and the peacemaking communities we represent could possibly attract the notice of a “Terrorism Task Force” is reprehensible. Please spread the word, express concerns you have with Federal and Polk County authorities. Keep us in mind and prayer.

Brian Terrell
Executive Director
Catholic Peace Ministry

Welcome to George Bush’s America.

"Winter of Our Discontent" protesters that were arrested in civil disobedience action at the White House 2/27/06. From left: Elton Davis, Bernie Meyer, Ed Bloomer, Eileen Hansen, a supporter who did not get arrested (holding banner on left), David Goodner, Brian Terrell, Jeff Leys
(Photo: Mike Ferner)

Seven Arrested at White House in Protest of Iraq War
[Common Dreams]

From The Nuclear Resister, 1995

A priest and a rural mayor, both from Iowa, are serving federal sentences for protests at the Strategic Nuclear Command (StratCom) at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha.

Fr. Frank Cordaro and Maloy Mayor Brian Terrell are veteran nuclear resisters, with arrests over the last two decades at nuclear and military facilities across the United States. They were charged with trespassing at Offutt May 29.

Mayor Terrell was sentenced to four months beginning Nov. 1. In a 12-minute trial on Oct. 20, Fr. Cordaro said he had already spent 26 months in jail, but if set free he would return to the base to demand that it cease coordinating all U.S. strategic nuclear weapons systems. He was sentenced to six months.

Cordaro and Terrell will be sending out a newsletter from prison. Send contributions to Fr. Frank and Brian's Support Fund, St. Patrick's Church, 223 Harmony St., Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503.

Terrell requests prayers, letters, and visits to himself and his family, and donations to compensate for his lost income. Letters should be sent to Terrell, his partner Betsy, and children Clara and Elijah, care of Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker, P.O. Box 264, Maloy, Iowa 50852.

Source: the Nuclear Resister, 1995

I rejoice to see the young people thinking of "the works of mercy" as a truly revolutionary, but nonviolent program. The spiritual and corporal certainly go together, and often involve suffering.

To oppose nuclear buildup has led to the imprisonment this last month of two of our workers, Robert Ellsberg and Brian Terrell, in Rocky Flats, Colorado — and solitary confinement is suffering indeed, and, added to that, a hunger strike is certainly dying to self.

Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimmage, The Catholic Worker, June 1978

The New American
Dream Interview

[Originally published March 3, 2009]

BRIAN TERRELL, 52, lives in Maloy, Iowa, near Des Moines.

Terrell was until recently executive director of Catholic Peace Ministry in Des Moines.

He joined the Catholic Worker community in New York City in 1975 and was an associate editor of The Catholic Worker in the last years of Dorothy Day's life.

He moved to Iowa in 1979 and managed a hospitality house for homeless people in Davenport.

In 1986 he relocated to the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa, where he currently lives with his wife Betsy.

He is a longtime peace activist, maybe the most accomplished peace activist you've never heard of.

Last summer he walked with the Witness Against War folks for just about a week, from Sparta to just past La Crosse, WI.

He was convicted on Jan. 12 of trespass at Fort McCoy as a result of participation in the walk.

[See ]
See Brian's letter to the judge

He is the former mayor of Maloy, Iowa.

In the recent film about Dorothy Day, "Don't Call Me A Saint," by Claudia Larson, you can see Brian at the door of St. Joseph House. Maryhouse.

In 1992 Brian was in Israel and Palestine with an international peace walk. He was arrested when the walk crossed the Green Line, spent two days in jail and was deported.

He visited Iraq in 1998.

He has also organized against the use of Iowa National Guard troops in Iraq and has been arrested at Iowa Guard installations.

Answering an invitation to speak to high school students in Germany, he toured Europe, addressing the war in Iraq and United States imperialism.

Brian and his wife, Betsy Keenan, have two grown children, Elijah who lives in Buffalo, New York, and Clara who is in grad school in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

They met in the late 1970s, either in New York City or the Catholic Worker farm at Tivoli, New York.


The New American Dream Trivia Question:

To win a round button that says, "Bush Is Lying About What He Knew,"
be the first one to correctly answer the following.

Brian Terrell ....

a. Absolutely adores jail food

b. Would rather be in Dubuque

c. Flips slow-moving farm vehicles the bird every chance he gets

d. Thought Peter Maurin was kind of a blabber

e. Will not eat that vegetarian crap

f. Is a majority stock holder in The Des Moines Register

g. Would like to be arrested three more times, and then that's it.


NAD: Brian hello, welcome and thank you for taking the time.

Where are you from, originally?


I lived in and around Green Bay, Wisconsin, where I was born, until I was ninteen years old.

In 1975 when I left for New York City and the Catholic Worker.

I was a month or so into my sophomore year at St. Norbert College in De Pere when the absurdity of my situation there became too much and I dropped out.

Jesus said that no one can serve two masters, God and money, but St. Norbert’s and other Christian schools exist, it seems, only to prove Jesus wrong on that one!

(For more on my brief academic career and its fallout see

NAD: How did you get interested in the Catholic Worker?


I had very little idea of what the Catholic Worker was before I got there but had already come to realize that a practice of Christianity that is not a protest against greed and against torture, empire and war is pretty meaningless — likewise, any Christianity that is not about living in solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the prisoner.

For all its faults and dysfunctions, I felt more at home at the New York Catholic Worker than I had ever before in my life.

NAD: What were you going to be before you heard about Dorothy Day?


Believe it or not (I have my own doubts) I thought that I might be a priest!

NAD: Is there still time?


There are many avenues left to me, even at my advanced age, to sell out.

On this one, however, the bridges that I might have crossed have been burned long ago, thank God.

This is not to say that all priests are “sell outs,” only that I know that I would have been one if I could have been.


I have gone abroad over the years, too, several trips to Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East.


Work in these places has been of value and meaning, it is the witness and protest that I have participated in here in Iowa that has made the most difference, I am convinced.


NAD: Iowa has perhaps the most lively, active per-capita peace movement in the universe.

What's up with that?

... BTW ... Why Iowa? Why not New York, or Seattle, Boulder, Madison, Austin, Ann Arbor ... Duluth?

Why burn up all your good ideas and energies in the shadow of Living History Farms?


I don’t know.

I moved from New York to Davenport, Iowa, in 1979, a time that historians seem to agree was not a time of populist upheaval.

I am not sure about that either but I remember that not as a quiet time but one of furious activity, responding to nuclearism, of solidarity against imperialism in Central America and more.

Nor did I experience Iowa as a lazy backwater.

As much or more was going on then here as around the east coast that I had left. I have lived in Iowa since then and while I often travel to places like New York, Washington, D.C.

I was arrested there most recently on January 11, 2008, for “causing a harangue at the Supreme Court” and then in June spent ten days in the D.C. jail.

[See and Chicago (busted there on January 20, ’09 in Senator Durbin’s office protesting the massacre in Gaza, [See

I have gone abroad over the years, too, several trips to Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East.

Work in these places has been of value and meaning, it is the witness and protest that I have participated in here in Iowa that has made the most difference, I am convinced.


Bill Moyers NOW this Friday 9:30
-10:30pm on PBS

Special Report on Grand Jury investigation on harassment of peace activists in Iowa

Brian Terrell from Iowa wrote:

"A crew from NOW spent most of last Friday in Des Moines, interviewing Dr. Maxwell, pres of Drake U, and me, both at Friends' House and at the scene of the crime, Camp Dodge."

Brian Terrell
Executive Director
Catholic Peace Ministry
4211 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50312

More from Iowa:

by Tim Schmitt From Pointblank, Des Moines Metro Area Alternative weekly, 2/18/04

Brian Terrell sits in the office of the Catholic Peace Ministry, a drafty and chilly corner of the basement in the house occupied by the American Friends Service Community (AFSC). The building's circuit box
sits on one wall, half hidden by a strategically hung tapestry. Pipes and conduits criss-cross the low ceiling, betraying the makeshift nature of the organization's headquarters. The small office is abuzz
as Terrell busily fields calls from local reporters and several national news magazines.

He's been playing phone tag with Bill Moyers for a couple days; a clipping from the current edition of The New York Times sitting on his table prominently features a picture of Terrell standing against a small bookshelf in this very office. The AFSC, a Quaker organization committed to non-violence and the promotion of peace and justice is not officially affiliated with Terrell's organization. The same is true of the Iowa Peace Network, which keeps offices in the building upstairs.


"It sends a chill down your spine immediately," says Kathleen McQuillen, Iowa Program Coordinator of the AFSC. "You think, 'my God, this is happening here in Des Moines?' This was very scary stuff."

That the protest had attracted the attention of authorities was no surprise to Terrell. An investigation of the protests he expected, but a grand jury investigation, he says, indicates a level of fear and distrust that just hasn't been present — or necessary — at the dozens of actions Terrell has helped organize in Central Iowa in the past few years. Terrell, no newcomer to the peace and justice community, first walked a picket line in 1975 with the United Farm Workers in New York City.

Since then, he's been arrested several times for acts of non-violent civil disobedience. He's spent time in the Catholic Worker Community in New York and in federal prison for his protesting — time he served while simultaneously serving as mayor of Maloy, the town he calls home.


In his years as an activist and non-violent protester, Terrell has never himself experience such an effort to squelch dissent as that which took place in Des Moines last week. It appeared the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force was poking around, trying to find out who in Central Iowa was involved with planning the protest and the conference, and who exactly was in attendance. Terrell knew several people who were part of grand jury investigations in the 1970s for activities similar to the protests in Central Iowa, and he's seen the effect such an investigation can have.

"I know how devastating it was to communities at that time," says Terrell. The result, he explains,was a sense of fear and distrust that spread throughout the peace and justice movement and eventually destroyed friendships and broke organizations apart. That, he believes, was the goal here. And it could have ended badly. Drake University could have washed its hands of it all and quietly turned over the requested records. ...


Subpoenas Dropped: New York Times
February 11, 2004

Subpoenas on Antiwar Protest Are Dropped

DES MOINES, Feb. 10 — Facing growing public pressure from civil liberties advocates, federal prosecutors on Tuesday dropped subpoenas that they issued last week ordering antiwar protesters to appear before a grand jury and ordering a university to turn over information about the protesters.

The protesters, who had said they feared that the unusual federal inquiry was intended to silence and scare people who disagreed with government positions, declared victory.

"We made them want to stop," Brian Terrell, executive director of the Catholic Peace Ministry here and one of four protesters who received subpoenas, told a crowd at the federal courthouse. "We're here to make them want to never let it happen again."

Representatives of the United States attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, Stephen Patrick O'Meara, declined to comment on what prompted the reversal. Mr. O'Meara's spokesman, Al Overbaugh, said he could not comment on information related to grand jury subpoenas.

On Monday, prosecutors defended their inquiry, saying it was limited to the narrow issue of whether a protester trespassed on Iowa National Guard property on Nov. 16.

A subpoena compelling Drake University to provide information about an antiwar forum on its campus on Nov. 15 was also withdrawn, as was an earlier court order that barred Drake officials from speaking publicly about the case.

David E. Maxwell, president of the private university of 5,100 students, said he was deeply relieved.

"It has been a remarkable several days," Dr. Maxwell said. "I'm still processing this."

The school received a subpoena last week that demanded a broad range of information about the sponsor of the forum on Nov. 15, the Drake chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. The subpoena included its leadership lists, annual reports and location. That subpoena was later narrowed somewhat, university officials said on Tuesday, to include the names of people at the forum and records from campus security that might describe "the content of what was discussed at the meeting."

Dr. Maxwell said the subpoenas concerned him because they threatened essential values of the university like the right to free assembly and the sense of the university as a "safe haven" for ideas, even unpopular ones.

"It raised very troubling issues for us," he said.

In the end, the president said, events played out as they should.

"From that perspective," Dr. Maxwell said, "this has shown that the system works. We felt something inappropriate was being asked of us, and in the end it was resolved the way we wanted."

Civil liberties advocates here and nationally said they had questions about the intent of the investigation and whether it might signal a broader worry for antiwar protesters here and others elsewhere. The Iowa Civil Liberties Union intends to investigate the investigation, said its executive director, R. Ben Stone.

"Despite any retreat by the Iowa U.S. Attorney," Mr. Stone said, "there remain serious questions about the scope of this particular investigation. If it was just a trespassing investigation, why seek the membership records of the National Lawyers Guild? If this was an attempt to chill protests through the aggressive policing of a run-of-the-mill crime, we've got a serious problem in America."

Twenty-one people attended a training session on nonviolent protest at the Nov. 15 antiwar forum, organizers said. On Tuesday, a far larger group, more than 100, stood outside the federal courthouse beside Mr. Terrell in bitter cold, holding a new set of protest signs that said, "Say no to political grand juries," "You can subpoena us, but you will not silence us" and "Investigate Halliburton not Iowans."


NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?

We don't ask this to make fun. We ask because we really seek the answers.

Are UFOs real?
Did we land on the moon in 1968?
Did Bush knock down the towers?
Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?
The Oklahoma City bombing? Wasn't that just another U.S. government terrorist exercise? Or not.
Waco. We burned kids, right? You can see flames shooting out of the tanks. Or not.
Is Bigfoot real?
Is there a God?

... What makes you think that?


The state has lied to us about almost every important thing that led us into war since the beginning. The sinking of the USS Maine, Pearl Harbor, Gulf of Tonkin.

How can we assume that they are telling us the truth now?

NAD: Please tell us more about yourself, the things you have done, what you would like to do, what you did today.


Mostly, these days after my precipitous (maybe) exit from my job of nine years as director of Catholic Peace Ministry in Des Moines I am mostly here down on the farm in Maloy, cracking wall nuts, taking care of the goats and chickens and helping Betsy with her weaving.

[See Page 5 of this for more about our farm. ]


I write this a couple of weeks after the inauguration, deeply disturbed that so many

good folks still support Obama and I wonder if there is any amount of blood there could be on his hands before there is a general disillusionment.


NAD: Do you have hope in Obama?



NAD: Why. Why not.


I write this a couple of weeks after the inauguration, deeply disturbed that so many good folks still support Obama and I wonder if there is any amount of blood there could be on his hands before there is a general disillusionment.

The good news about Obama’s election is that it shows how much idealism is still out there.

The bad news is that that idealism can be so readily coopted and exploited by such a cynic as Obama.

The election of an African American president might say something good about America but the only mitigating thing to say about Obama as we are faced with the horrible reality of his unfolding crimes is that he always said, promised in fact, that he would only expand Bush’s war of terror, “bump” the pentagon budget, increase the size of the military, keep military aid to Israel “sacrosanct” and hold the entire globe hostage to nuclear annihilation with “all option on the table” regarding Iran.

As I travel around the country, well meaning liberals recognize that I am from Iowa, where Obama got his first big boost for his campaign by winning the Iowa caucus, and try and thank me for helping get him elected!

I take only small satisfaction that I beat the crowd and was arrested for protesting Obama policies in his Iowa campaign office the day of the 2008 caucus:


The NAD feature interviews are archived below here.

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Pacifica reporter in Palestine

Richard Flamer, Catholic Worker in Chiapas

Ian Woods, Canadian publisher, activist

Elena Siff Erenburg, political artist from Los Angeles

Allen Ruff, of Rainbow Bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin

Len Osanic, Black Op Radio

Levi Asher, a writer and literary critic in New York City

Geov Parrish, Seattle journalist, activist

Bill Polonsky, Yukon 9/11 Truth

Daphne Webb, Denver writer, activist, green wedding planner

Michael Boldin, a populist blooms in L.A.

Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher magazine

Will Braun, editor of Geez Magazine,

Ben Heine, political artist in Belgium

Matt Sullivan, editor of The Rock Creek Free Press

Sam Smith, editor of The Progressive Review

Jarek Kupsc, 9/11 Truth filmmaker, "The Reflecting Pool"

Bill O'Driscoll, arts editor, Pittsburgh City Paper

Gerry McCarthy, editor of The Social Edge

Jim Cullen, editor of The Progressive Populist magazine

Bartcop, old-school blogger from Tulsa

Lee Rayburn, radio show host from Madison, Wisconsin

Aimee England, bookseller in Michigan

Al Markowitz, poet for the working woman & man

Timbre Wolf, a Tulsa peace minstrel goes to Hawaii

Steven Stothard, a radical grows in Indiana

Dale Clark, an artist in the desert

Jacqui Devenuau, Green Party organizer in Maine

Don Harkins, co-editor of The Idaho Observer

Stewart Bradley, independent film producer

Rick Smith, Cleveland area radio host

William P. Meyers, independent book publisher, political activist

Ian Woods, Canadian publisher, 9/11 Truth activist

Richard D. Brinkman, Edmonton, Canada 9/11 Truth

Lynn Berg, New York City actor

Alejandro Rojas, of MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network

Brian Kasoro, publisher of The Liberator magazine

Brother Raymond, walked from Denver to D.C., for truth

Korey Rowe, one of the producers of Loose Change

Dave Zweifel, editor of The Madison Capital Times

Cathleen Howard, expatriate, from Tucson to Mexico, to pursue her dreams

Sander Hicks, Brooklyn radical entrepreneur, writer, publisher

Joe Bageant, America's blue-collar author

Frida Berrigan, a lifetime of faith, hope and love

Denise Diaz, brewing up a revolution, at The Ritual Cafe in Des Moines

Deanna Taylor, Green Party activist, teacher, in Salt Lake City

Rossie Indira-Vltchek, writer, filmmaker in Jarkarta, Indonesia

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Pacifica reporter in Gaza

Delaney Bruce, Friends of Peltier

Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs

Michael Sprong, South Dakota Catholic Worker

Brian Terrell, Des Moines Catholic Worker

Bob Graf, One of the Milwaukee 14

Loren Coleman, Bigfoot researcher

Monty Borror, Sci-Fi artist from Virginia

David Ray, Great American Poet

Jack Blood, radio show host, in Austin, Texas

Danny Schechter, A Real Reporter

Bob Kincaid, host, Head-On Radio Show

Tony Packes, Animal Farm Radio Host, Keeping An Eye on Big Brother

Richard Flamer, Working With the Poor in Chiapas

David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Truth activist author

Barry Crimmins, U.S. comedian, author, social activist

Bret Hayworth, political reporter for the Sioux City [IA] Journal

Lisa Casey, publisher of website All Hat No Cattle

Joe & Elaine Mayer, activist couple in Rochester, Minnesota

Fr. Darrell Rupiper, U.S. priest revolutionary

Whitney Trettien, MIT student, Green Party activist

Meria Heller, radio show host

Phil Hey, professor, poet

John Crawford, book publisher

Steve Moon, Iowa Bigfoot researcher

Carol Brouillet, California social activist, 9/11 Truth

Russell Brutsche, Santa Cruz artist

Kevin Barrett, professor, radio show host, 9/11 Truth activist

A'Jamal Rashad Byndon, social activist in Omaha

Chris Rooney, Vancouver, Canada Catholic Worker, website publisher

Marc Estrin, political novelist, from the left

Peter Dale Scott, poet, professor, author, activist

Anthony Rayson, anarchist zine publisher, works with prisoners

Alice Cherbonnier, editor of The Baltimore Chronicle, an independent newspaper

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