A REVIEW OF ONGOING CAMPAIGNS...
- Atlantic Life Community
The Atlantic Life Community (ALC), a loose affiliation of Catholic Worker and like-minded faith-based communities, individuals and families in the northeastern United States, gathers several times each year, most often in Washington D.C., to build community and engage in nonviolent resistance to war.
The 2003 Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat engaged in protest at an arms fair, the Pentagon, and War Secretary Rumsfeld's home. At the Pentagon on Good Friday, April 18, Naed Smith poured blood on the sidewalk entrance. Smith and seven others who stood holding signs nearby were arrested. Smith served a thirty day jail sentence in September.
Art Laffin of the Washington D.C. Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community was arrested the prior Monday, April 14, while leafletting at the Pentagon during the weekly early morning vigils there. Max Obuszewski and Gary Ashbeck were arrested in mid-May picketing outside the air show at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, but were acquitted in court.
The August, 2003 Faith and Resistance retreat took action at the Pentagon on Hiroshima Day, August 6. Four were cited for impeding morning pedestrian traffic at the Pentagon subway stop. Nearly 40 supporters stood nearby with banners, statements and song for nearly an hour before moving on. The charges were later dismissed
Retreatants then traveled to Bath Iron Works in Maine, where a warship was to be christened on Nagasaki Day, August 9, perhaps coincidentally at the hour of the nuclear bombing. With a long banner - "We remember Hiroshima, We remember Nagasaki, Never again" - thirteen people temporarily blocked the spectators' gate to the event. They were convicted and sentenced to community service in September but all refused, serving two or four days in jail.
On August 16, 2003, five Catholic workers were arrested for obstruction in Groton, Connecticut, as they knelt on the sidewalk outside the Electric Boat Corporation, appealing to the public in attendance not to celebrate the weapon of mass destruction being launched that day - the first of a new Virginia Class of attack submarines. The five men pled no contest in September and their $35 fine was waived.
More than 100 members and friends of the ALC showed up at the Smithsonian Institution's Dulles Airport annex on December 15, the day the Enola Gay exhibit opened. Inside, they unfurled banners and displayed large photos of victims of the Enola Gay's fateful mission - dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The victims' stories were excluded from the official exhibit. Art Laffin was removed from the museum when he began reading the group's statement. Tom Siemer was arrested after lobbing a bottle filled with red paint towards the warplane, shattering on the floor in the image of blood shed.
On October 4, a celebration of Phil Berrigan's life (late member of the ALC) was held in New York City. The following day, which would have been his 80th birthday, saw 39 people arrested in his honor at the USS Intrepid war museum. All the charges were later dismissed.
Over 100 people participated in the ALC's Holy Innocents Faith and Resistance retreat in December, 2003. Sixteen people were arrested for blocking the Pentagon on December 29, including Boston Catholic Workers Sheila Stumph and Scott Langley, who also poured blood on the pillars and were charged with depredation of property. In March, 2004, they were both convicted and sentenced to ten days in jail and payment of restitution.
ALC's Holy Week, 2004 gathering focused on the theme " Subverting the Myth of Redemptive Violence." Street theater was developed to address this theme in the Christian context of the Easter story, and performed several times over the retreat, notably outside a Navy -sponsored arms exhibition and near the White House. Arrests occurred only on Good Friday at the Pentagon, where ten people who briefly blocked the Metro subway entrance were arrested and held for several hours. They were released pending court dates July 16 (anniversary of "Trinity", the first atomic test) and August 6, Hiroshima Day.
On Memorial Day, May 31, anti-war activists attended the dedication of the new World War II memorial on the Washington Mall, with banners calling to "End All War!" The next day, they took the banners to the Pentagon, where eight were charged with disorderly conduct or trespass after unfurling them on a pedestrian bridge leading from the parking lot to the war building. All were released until court on August 6. Activists are wondering if the courts have finally deduced their direct action calendar and begun setting court dates to coincide.
For more information, contact Jonah House, 1301 Moreland Ave., Baltimore, MD 21216, (410)233-6238, firstname.lastname@example.org or Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, 503 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20010, (202)882-9649.