John Brulé !Presente¡

From the September/October 2018 PNL #862

by Andy Mager

 

John Brulé picture
John speaking at a June, 2012
demonstration protesting then-
President Obama's "Kill List,"
a list ofindividuals that the
President decides to assassinate
with reaper drones. This was in
front of the Federal Building in
downtown Syracuse.
Photo: Carol Baum

 

Perhaps it was no coincidence that longtime Syracuse Peace Council member John Brulé passed away on August 6, Hiroshima Day. John had been a consistent presence in SPC's processions to mourn this first use of nuclear weapons and recommit ourselves to the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction. He was an SPC activist for nearly five decades, gracing us with his wit, sweet smile, keen thinking and fierce commitment.

 

A few months after moving to Syracuse in the early 1980s, I was invited to a party at John and Sally Brulé's home even though I didn't know them, and was warmly welcomed as an SPC activist. As I continued to work with John and Sally, I understood that this was an expression of their generous spirits and sense of community. A year later, I found myself on the opposite side of John's advocacy for computerization of SPC's mailing list. Over the years we consistently joked about my Luddite tendencies being completely overrun by the digital age.

 

John joined SPC in the late 1960s after returning to Syracuse from the Philippines where he was a visiting engineering professor. John and Sally were involved in racial justice work through Catholic organizations, but as war in Viet Nam escalated, they made the connections between war, racism and economic exploitation, and found a political home at SPC. John served on SPC's Steering Committee several times, Sally eventually joined the SPC Staff Collective, and their children became involved. During the war, John organized some 35 SU engineering and physics faculty to refuse to work on any military research projects. John was active in SPC when our tax exempt status was taken away during the Nixon regime as a result of our support of war tax resistance. Looking back on that time in 2005, John appreciated SPC's decision not to seek reinstatement of that status, noting, “We’re going to be free of that and do what we want.” Working with other organizations John saw the self limitations on action that usually accompany tax exempt status.

 

The Brulés returned to the Philippines several times (with John sharing computer technology and eventually email) and helped educate Central New Yorkers about the brutal Marcos regime and its cozy relationship with the US. John was also active with the ACLU and played a key role in the passage of a 2003 Syracuse Common Council resolution condemning the USA Patriot Act and other efforts to spy on, racially profile and intimidate residents of our community. In the late 2000s, John was one of the “three Johns”—Brulé, Oldfield and Jureller—who first understood the horror posed by the drone aircraft coming to Hancock Field. Their persistence in educating SPC members about this danger resulted in SPC's ongoing anti-weaponized drone activism. John participated in “Street Heat” and other anti- drone actions until he was no longer able to do so.

 

A few years after Sally's passing in 1998, John reconnected with Dolores Morgan, with whom he had worked in the Catholic Interracial Council in the mid 1960s. John and Dolores married and found ways to blend their diverse families until John's recent passing.

 

We say “John Brule Presente,” to say John is gone, but still with us, that his spirit lives on in the struggles that played such a central part in his long and productive life.

 

Andy Mager is a former SPC staff organizer.

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