Solidarity | 28.12.2007 21:31
Four members of the Catholic Worker movement were arrested at 9am on Friday December 28th, during a non-violent peace witness at Northwood Joint Forces Military HQ in Hertfordshire, England.
Scott Albrecht, Sr Susan Clarkson and Fr Martin Newell, poured red paint representing the blood of the victims of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, onto the "Northwood Headquarters" sign at the main entrance to the base. They then knelt down and prayed. They displayed placards saying "War shall cease all over the Earth… Psalm 46" and "We all have blood on our hands."
Meanwhile, three other Catholic Workers kept vigil on the opposite footpath reading out the names of Iraqi, Afghani, and British military victims of the war on terror. They held placards with the words "Northwood HQ, calling the shots in Iraq and Afghanistan from leafy suburbia!", "We mourn Pte. Gordon Gentle, aged 19, killed by bombing in Iraq" and "We mourn Roza Khan, aged 13, killed by Nato gunfire in Afghanistan". Police arrived immediately and arrested the three on charges of criminal damage.
Maria Albrecht was also arrested at the scene and her camera was confiscated by police. The four were taken to Watford Police Station, where they remain at the time of writing.
Three other Catholic Workers maintained vigil opposite the entrance gates - reading the names of the dead and singing the response "We remember you!"
The Catholic Worker Farm van was later stopped by police and impounded. The support group, now on foot, was kept under surveillance for the next couple of hours.
The three read a statement which said:
"We come here today on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, when the Christian churches commemorate the day when Herod ordered the killing of small children in his attempt to kill the child Jesus, to pray, to remember, to resist and to repent.
We pray for all the dead of the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, civilian and military but especially for the innocent. We pray that our hearts may be strengthened with the faith to embrace nonviolence as a means of resolving conflicts.
We remember those who have had their lives devastated by war. War does not work; it kills the innocent and destroys our earth.
We resist the war making machine of the government of this country by coming to this military headquarters and transforming the signs outside. We use signs and symbols to reveal the bloodshed of war and our hope that the message of nonviolence which Jesus gave us in the Gospels, and for which he gave his life, will be for the healing of the nations.
We repent for our complicity in the deaths of the innocent by too often allowing our fear to keep us silent. We pray that our hearts may be disarmed and invite our brothers and sisters in the military to allow their hearts to be disarmed also. We encourage them to refuse to fight and kill".
*Maria Albrecht, mother of four & teacher, lives at the Catholic Worker Farm near Rickmansworth.
Scott Albrecht (45), father of four and former United States Air Forces, lives at the Catholic Worker Farm near Rickmansworth. The Farem offers hospitality to refugees from Congo & Nigeria.
*Sr. Susan Clarkson sc (56) lives at St Josephs Catholic Worker House, Oxford offering hospitality to refugees from Iran & Sierra Leone.
Fr Martin Newell cp (40) lives at Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Hackney, London. The house runs a soup kitchen and cafe for the marginalised and offers hospitality to refugees from NIgeria, Ethiopia, Algeria, and Iran.
*In terms of finances we are £250 down on retrieving the vehicle etc.
Consider a donation to
"London Catholic Worker"
16 De Beauvoir, De Beauvoir Town,
London N1 5SU
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Ciaron O’Reilly (+44) 07950 290 857
For photos and reports of previous nonviolent resistance at Northwood HQ, see "resistance" section of the website below
Related Link: http://www.londoncatholicworker.org
Scott & Maria Albrecht, Fr, Martin Newell and Sr. Susan Clarkson remain in custody at Watford Police station after being arrested at Northwood Military HQ at 9am this morning. Their anti-war witness involved the Northwood Headquarters sign being covered with red paint symbolising blood spilt in Iraq and Afghanistan by the daily grind of Northwood HQ. A respectful and dignified liturgy then unfolded as both soldiers/police and Catholic Workers listened to the names of the dead - British military, Afghani and Iraq civilian, how old they were when they died, when and how they died. The refrain "We remember you!" was sung after every name was read. Both resisters, military and soldiers acted with dignity throughout the proceedings.
At approx 5pm the Catholic Worker farmhouse containing London Catholic Workers Ciaron and Chris, three of the Albrecht children and a number of refugee guests was raided by 6 police officers. The plainclothes detectives, wearing anti-stab vests, appeared very sophisticated, highly educated etc. The search was extensive and concentrated on the master bedroom and study. The search was very thorough.
I attempted to engage two of the officers positioned in the kitchen in discussion pointing out that this seemed to be an exercise in overkill and waste of police resources in relation to minor charges of criminal damage. I suggested that surely they had enough evidence at the scene this morning to pursue their charges. After one officer offered examples of follow up investigations into the patterns of recividist shoplifters. I suggested this looked like a conspiracy fishing expedition. I got a reluctant nod from one of them.
The criminalisation of dissent, the misuse of conspiracy laws and the hyping up of nonviolent direct action into something sinister gathers apace in Britain. The war escalates in Iraq & Afghanistan and expands into Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon. Civil liberties shrink and many who marched in 03 have disengaged. Where is this leading? We await the return of Maria & Scott, Fr. Maritn and Sr. Susan and the deliverance of us all from this madness.