Doing the Right Thing in Massachusetts

When Betsy Corner called her husband, Randy Kehler, in February 1989 to tell him that the IRS planned to seize their home because of their war-tax resistance, Randy replied, "I have a feeling this is going to change our lives dramatically." If he only knew.

Now, four years later, Corner and Kehler's Colrain, Massachusetts house continues to be a focal point for area peace activists, who have maintained a nonviolent vigil outside the home since it was sold by the government to a Colrain couple and occupied in April 1992.

An injunction was issued this spring ordering vigilers to remain at least 100 feet off the property--or risk arrest. A few days later, on June 10, 10 people walked onto the land and were arrested, charged with contempt of the court injunction. Another demonstration, with more civil disobedience, is planned for July 11.

Meanwhile, supporters continue to press the case in court as well. Corner, Kehler, and a supporter, Bob Beatty, face trials soon on earlier trespassing charges. The community land trust that owns the land under Kehler and Corner's house is in the preliminary stages of legal action against the couple that bought the house from the government, for occupying the land without a lease.

In a phone interview with Sojourners, Kehler stressed the importance of keeping the focus where it belongs: on the militarism and misplaced government priorities that have fed the nation's crisis in housing. Kehler said he was "weary" of the long stand-off, but prepared to see it through. "I wish there could be a quick resolution, but that's been true for a long time.

"I continue to hope," Kehler said, "that if you try to do what you think is right, something good will come of it."

Jim Rice is editor of Sojourners. Brigitte Kerpsack assisted with research.

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Sojourners Magazine August 1993
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