Capital punishment. A living wage. Nukes. War. Palestinian-Israeli relations. Violence against women. Environmental concerns. It’s safe to say that few just causes have escaped the notice of the Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center in its 25-plus years of existence.
IPJC is housed in a modest classroom in Broadway United Methodist Church, where bookshelves are stocked with titles like The World Is My Country and Nuclear Culture, and metal shelving holds boxes brimming with papers. More accurately, the room is home to IPJC’s prodigious archives, while the center itself is embodied in its people, its associations and its work.
Founding member and current Vice President Jane Haldeman says some 30 groups partner with IPJC, which she describes as “kind of a two-headed animal.”
“We’re an umbrella group, but we’re also a group that wants to take action,” she explains.
And their actions are plentiful. Over the years, the center has called countless anti-war rallies on Monument Circle, timed to coincide with military milestones and keep Indy residents from slipping into complacency. Since Sept. 11, the Federal Building downtown is the scene of IPJC-led vigils every Friday afternoon.
Collaborations with groups like Justice for Janitors, Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Indiana Information Center on the Abolition of Capital Punishment and various student peace groups have called the power structure to task and boosted visibility of critical causes.
IPJC co-sponsors the annual Midwest Peace and Justice Summit and has hosted presentations on everything from the U.S. occupation in Iraq to IndyGo’s role in helping the workforce stay employed. International, national and local peace and social justice concerns: All are on this organization’s radar.
And as time went by, the nonprofit that grew out of a draft resistance hotline in the early 1980s gradually became the oldest continuously operating organization of its kind in Indy.
“We’re just a bunch of grey-headed but hardworking folk,” Haldeman jokes.
What is she proudest of? The Indianapolis Peace and Justice Journal, an eight-page newsletter the center has published each month without fail since its inception. With a current distribution of 3,500, the journal compiles the kind of nonmainstream news, opinion and political cartoons too often buried in conventional media. “We print news that’s not covered in other ways; that’s basically our motivation,” Haldeman says.
In print or in person, by e-mail or vigil, the voice of IPJC is a welcome one.
— Shawndra Miller