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No faith in war
23 September 2015
The following article recently appeared in Ekklesia. It was written by Henrietta Cullinan, a member of the LCW. More images of the DSEi protests can be found here.
Last Tuesday (8 September) I and other members of the London Catholic Worker took part in a ‘No Faith in War’ day of action outside the Excel Centre, London. Faith groups Put Down the Sword, Pax Christi and Disarm Quakers were also coming together to disrupt the setting up of the DSEi, the world’s largest arms fair.
A week before, we went on a walking tour of the site, organised by CAAT, and inspected the important roundabout where deliveries of pieces of military hardware, such as tanks, helicopters and boats would be arriving, as well as everything else you need to set up an exhibition. We already had a plan to hold a mock funeral for the victims of the arms trade, but until the day came I had no idea whether the police would let us even approach the roundabout, or whether there would even be any trucks carrying recognisable military hardware.
The intention of an action like this one is to use the symbols of the church to convey the message of peace and disarmament. The idea was to claim and occupy a space in which to temporarily create and realise a peaceful and loving world at the same time as resisting nonviolently the arms trade, the approach of the lethal weapons of all sizes, the holding of the arms fair.
At the time the DSEi guest list hadn’t been released but, as we now know, amongst the regimes invited are those who use child soldiers, those that use violence against their own citizens. For me personally the aim is to resist the trade in killing. All the machines and weapons are evidence of someone’s intention to kill.
We considered ways of claiming and occupying the space, that are also symbols of the church: for instance the colours black and red, incense, placards, reading the word of God, singing hymns and then finally red paint that we were going to spread on the ground, to represent blood. We thought a bit about what kind of paint to throw, since throwing paint could be considered violent in itself. Oil paint would be too unpleasant. I thought of using vegetables like tomatoes and beetroot. In the end we used poster paint, mixing red and green for a realistic blood colour. Catholic Workers Nora Ziegler and I and John Lynes, a Quaker, who were willing to risk arrest, would throw the paint. John Lynes would only spill a small amount.
The funeral procession of small white coffin, flowers, candlesticks and placards set out at about 11am led by Fr. Martin Newell dressed in his plain dark habit, swinging the censor. We processed through the estate nearby, singing ‘Abide with me’ and ‘Amazing Grace’, handing out leaflets.
Once we arrived at the roundabout, I grew more and more nervous. I wasn’t sure about being arrested, spending the night in a stuffy cell. I found it hard to concentrate on the readings until it came to my turn. It was the story of Cain and Abel from Genesis. ‘The Lord says, ‘Listen! [..] your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!’. At that moment the funeral stopped being a ‘mock’ funeral, and became real for me. I stared at the spot of tarmac where I would throw the paint and pictured the ground opening up and the blood screaming out in pain.
I prayed for the people of Afghanistan whose country had had so much ordnance dumped all over it that life has become almost impossible. In Kabul, whole blocks are still rubble, an infrastructure smashed, high unemployment persists. That morning we heard that Cameron had justified sending drones to make the first UK ‘extra-judicial’ killing. I prayed that Cameron would have a change of heart.
Then as the prayers finished I made eye contact with my friends, we picked up the coffin and moved onto the road. Quickly, with no one to stop us, we spilled the red poster paint all over one side of the road around the coffin. The nervousness suddenly left me. I knelt and in the gleaming wet paint. Other members of the crowd soon came to join us and held hands. The other people on the protest stood in a big circle around us as we carried on singing. The event turned from an awkward piece of activism into a space of prayer just as we had wished.
The police seemed reluctant to interrupt us at that point, instead mildly asking how long was all this going on for. We said we’d stay there an hour. The members of all the other groups gathered around, took over the singing, prayed in silence, as if in a prayer relay. We had made a gathering place, with the writing on the placards, the scripture that we read, the prayers and the incense still burning in front of the child’s coffin, and its smoke spilled out sideways in the wind.
Just as I’d imagined, the symbols and the crowd made a space of peace and prayer, instead of a road for carrying lethal weapons to market. Soon a row of lorries was stuck behind us. One low loader really was carrying an armoured vehicle, with the mountings for a missile launcher on the top. This felt like a real success to me.
Creating this space was taking prayers to the point of suffering. The Excel Centre tomorrow (15 September) becomes a place of suffering as companies display weapons to envoys of regimes looking for a way to kill and maim, subjugate and oppress.
24 July 2015
You can read our latest newsletter here. Articles discuss recent LCW actions around migration, visits to Palestine, Kathy Kelley's recent visit to Guiseppe Conlon House, and the Glasgow CW work with refugees at their "Place of Welcome".... And much more!
Kathy Kelly speaking at Giuseppe Conlon House
27 May 2015
The following video is from the public meeting held at Giuseppe Conlon House on 12th of May 2015.
Public event with Kathy Kelly
1 May 2015
All are welcome to a public event at London Catholic Worker with Kathy Kelly, American peace activist, pacifist and author, one of the founders of Voices in the Wilderness and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
She has traveled to Iraq twenty-six times, remaining in combat zones during both US-Iraq wars. Her recent travel has focused on Afghanistan and Gaza, along with domestic protests against U.S. drone policy. She has been arrested more than 60 times and written of her experiences among targets of U.S. military bombardment and inmates of U.S. prisons.
7pm, Tuesday May 12th, 49 Mattison Rd, N4 1BG.
30 April 2015
You can read our latest newsletter here. There are articles on recent actions at Northwood military base, a visit to Kabul, as well as updates and reflections on ongoing LCW projects in London.
To check out the full list of newsletters, go here.
Kites not drones
5 March 2015
Maya Evans will be coming to Guiseppe Conlon House to speak about drones and run a kite-making workshop on Thursday 12th March. All are welcome from 6.30pm. Maya's talk will start at 7pm. We are also organising a solidarity action in London for Fly Kites Not Drones day, Saturday 21st March.
RSVP if you wish to attend the talk and workshop, especially if you plan to stay for our communal dinner afterwards, at 9pm: our email is londoncatholicworker [at] yahoo.co.uk More details here.
Member of the LCW in Afghanistan
3 March 2015
The photo shows the December 2014 VCNV Peace Delegation to Kabul: Maya Evans, Mary Dobbing and Henrietta Cullinan standing outside the Borderfree Centre. Below is Henrietta's brief report....
We stayed with the women’s community of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, who run a community centre, the Borderfree Centre, home to humanitarian and cultural projects. The centre runs literacy and numeracy classes for street children, and organises local seamstresses to make duvets which are then handed out to IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and day labourers. The volunteers host many delegations from the US, Australia and the UK. They also join Global Days of Listening in Skype calls with people all over the world.
In Kabul I shared in the daily life of the women’s community, cooking and cleaning, took part in workshops at the Borderfree Centre and went out to see the duvets being distributed to internally displaced families in a refugee camp and to day labourers. During our visit Mary Dobbing from Voices for Creative Nonviolence and Drone Wars UK delivered an international workshop on the UK use of drones for Afghan journalists and the APV. Drone experts joined us from UK by Skype: Chris Cole from Drone Wars UK, Chris Woods investigative journalist and author, and Jennifer Gibson an international human rights lawyer with Reprieve.
The purpose of the visit was to show solidarity with the peace activists in a war torn country, at the very time when the ISAF forces were pulling out of Afghanistan after thirteen years of war. I also wanted to be able to report back to friends in the UK on the terrible effects of war and intended to challenge the militarisation of our society, which assumes you can only visit Afghanistan with guards and guns.
This site hasn't been updated too much lately, so if you would like to know what the LCW have been doing you should read our latest newsletter...
Farm Folk Festival
14 July 2014
The Catholic Worker Farm folk festival is happening on2nd August 2014, 2pm-11pm. It was great last year. This year it will be even better!
Tickets £5 at the door, under 12's free. Or buy tickets in advance to help us plan for the day. To get here you could take the tube and then a bus for about £2.70 or taxi for about £8/car. We are also happy to pick people up from the nearest tube Stop which is Rickmansworth. There will be food and drinks for sale at good prices.
These are just a few of the bands that will be playing: John McClean & The Clan, Razz The Poet, Peter Nutkin and Roland & Sue.
For more details visit the farm news page, or contact the farm on 01923777201, 07983 477819
21 May 2014
You are warmly invited to join the London Catholic Worker for two events during Refugee Week 2014 from 16 to 22 June.
On Sunday 15th June, 2-5pm - we will be having a picnic and handing out leaflets at the CCelebrating Sanctuary event on the South Bank (Bernie Spain Gardens, next to Oxo Tower Wharf, London SE1 9PH ) - (picnic: 2-3pm; leafleting: 3-5pm);
On Wednesday 18th June, 4-6pm - Join the London Catholic Worker in a vigil outside Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, Westminster SW1P 4DF. The vigil will be a call for the UK to honour the right of all refugees to live in dignity. We also call for the UK to increase the resettlement of refugees from Syria and other war torn counties.
Archbishops in the house
6 April 2014
The Cardinal Vincent of Westminster and the archbishop of Canterbury visited Guiseppe Conlon House today. More pics can be found here.
Catholic Worker released from prison
29 March 2014
Martin Newell is home, safe and well after his release from HMP Wandsworth yesterday, where he served 14 days of a 28 day sentence for nonpayment of fines all incurred as a result of acts of peaceful protest. He sends thismessage:
Thanks for all the cards, letters, messages of support and prayers.. My prayer isthat we will all deepen our commitment to work for peace and justice in God'sworld.
Catholic Priest Fr. Martin Newell , was sentenced to 28 days in prison fornon-payment of fines arising from numerous nonviolent peace protests against warand war preparations. Fr. Martin had told the court that for `for reasons of faith and conscience' hewould not pay fines of £565 that had been imposed following protests against thewars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the UK's use of armed drones and Tridentnuclear weapons system. Fr. Newell said,
Jesus taught us to love not just our neighbours but also our enemies. He showed usby his life and example how to resist evil not with violence but with loving,persistent, firm, active non-violence. It was this revolutionary patience on behalfof the poor and oppressed that, humanly speaking, led to him being arrested, tried,tortured and executed by the powers that be. The acts of witness that resulted inthe fines I have refused to pay were a form of conscientious objection. Refusing topay them is a continuation of that objection. It is a privilege to be able tofollow on the path that led Jesus to the way of the cross and resurrection.
Fr. Newell is a member of the Passionist Order. He currently works with homelessrefugees at the London Catholic Worker, and is planning to move soon to start a newproject in Birmingham.
Ash Wednesday actions at the MOD
11 March 2014
Martin Newell sent out the following report of the day's events: It went very well at the MoD today. About 100 people for the liturgy, younger age profile than I've seen before, a good spread across the ages from young 20's up. Scott Albrecht marked the Old War Office, was arrested, taken to Charing Cross police station and bailed to return in May - I think it was the 14th. They will decide whether to charge Scott under Section 128 of SOCPA, concerning military establishments, and for criminal damage. For the Socpa charge they have to ask the Attorney General.Ray Towey marked the pillars and the main entrance to the MoD in the morning, I made a mark at the back at the end of the liturgy. Neither myself nor Ray was arrested. The photo was taken by Father Joe Ryan. A longer report is here on the Pax Christi website.
Solidarity with the family of imprisoned Pvt Manning in Dublin
15 December 2013
Inspiring solidarity events for Chelsea Manning have been taking place recently in Dublin. Click here to read a report from Genny Bove, and to watch a bunch of videos shot in support of Chelsea.
CWers found guilty for Drone protest.
11 November 2013
Protests outside Lincoln magistrates court during the trial
On October 7th, three Catholic Workers were among the "Waddington 6" who were ontrial at Lincolnshire Magistrates Court. They were charged with criminal damage, forcutting the fence at RAF Waddington in June this year before exploring the base tolook for the drone control units. RAF Waddington is where UK armed drones arecontrolled from as they fly over and attach targets in Afghanistan.
The LCW farm's first ever folk music festival! Saturday the 12th October 2PM-11PM
We have lots of really good musicians coming. Among others John McClean and theClan, Ben Holland and Loudspeka. More will be announced in our facebook group.It's going to be great and we are all really excited!
The festival is a fundraiser for our work with our homeless women and children.Entry 5 pounds.There will be food and drinks to buy.If you are travelling by tube we can pick you up at Rickmansworth tube Station.There are also buses.
... and 12 years of Non-violent anti-war resistance of the LCW.
Giuseppe Conlon Hall Venue Oct 5th event (7 mins) Joe Black, Ciaron O'Reilly, Guy Smallman, Andy Worthington & anti-war/solidarityactivists at Giuseppe Conlon House, Sat August 5th.
On Sat 5th Oct, speakers, musicians, anti-war activists, former political prisoners& a British Army veteran were among those who marked the anniversary at a public event on Satnight Oct 5th.The event was addressed by author Andy Worthingtonauthor of "Guantanamo Files", photojournalist GuySmallman and anti-war activist/ former prisoner of the United States CiaronO'Reilly.Musicians Joe Black from Dublin & Tottenham's were joined by British Army veteran/Malaya campaign Walter and Claudia in song. Formalities were followed by a fine mealprepared by John Hamblet and a music session. More pics here.
Those attending included representation form the Guantanamo Campaign, Fitwatch,Manning & Assange solidarity networks, Harringay activivsts, Jesuits, Jean Vianney parishoners.
PFC Manning who has been sentenced to 35 years for exposing the war on Afghanistanand Julian Assange presently surrounded by London Metropolitan police were remembered throughout the evening.
Solidarity with Ecuador & Julian Assange in London
20 June 2013
Report and call-out by CiaronO'Reilly
Song in support of Bradley Manning Julian Assange andEd Snowden by RoJ LiGht
CALL OUT Julian Assange will make a speech at 2pm on Sat 22 Junefrom Balcony of Ecuadorian Embassy, Knightsbridge, London. Come and stand in solidarity!
REPORT Wednesday June 19th marked a year since WikiLeaks editorJulian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking sanctuary. TheEcuadorian government was immediately threatened in private correspondence fromBritish Foreign Minister Hague with the loss of diplomatic status and a consequentraid. The Ecuadorian government made the private threat public, held their groundand conducted an inquiry into the Assange case. This was the same government thathad previously responded to a U.S. request for a U.S. military base in Ecuador with,"if you let us have an Ecuadoran base in Florida?"
During this period of inquiry, the London Met were deployed in large numbersaround the embassy with 30 police stationed there 24/7. Anti-War, human rights,Latino, Veterans for Peace, Catholic Worker, Occupy & other activists maintained asolidarity vigil at the embassy. Following the completion of the Ecuadorian inquiryand the formal granting of asylum for Julian Assange in August 2012, the Met bobbiesleft to be replaced by 10 members of the Diplomatic Protection section of the Metand a police conference van permanently parked. This 24/7 police presence has beenmaintained for the past year at a cost of 4 million quid. On a significantly smallerbudget, a daily vigil of solidarity activists has been sustained (presently 4-6pm).
Sunday June 16th. 2013 was chosen as a time to mobilise as Ecuador'sForeign Minister Ricardo Patino was to visit Julian Assange before his meeting withBritish Foreign Minister William Hague the following day.
The first sight that greeted activists on exiting the Knighstbridgetube station was Sue & Roland's motor home transformedinto the "Free Tea, Free Assange" takeaway. The caboose was parked next toan exclusive Gran Cafe facing Harrods, serving folks throughout the afternoon.We started setting up banners and were soon joined by the Ecuadoriancommunity. Support grew to about 130+ by about 4pm. Word came through that theforeign minister had been delayed with an ETA of 6.30pm. We were blessed withfine weather and settled in for the duration. Fortunately, John McClean hadbrought his guitar! Songs alternated between an Aussie Kiwi combo and the Ecuadorian community.
In breaks between songs, media interviews were conducted and the Ecuadorian folksled us in chanting. At 6.30 the Ecuadorian foreign minister arrived waving to thecrowd and entered the embassy. Singing resumed and after a while curtains were drawnback and Ricardo Patino and Julian Assange appeared at the window of the embassy.Between us and them were the London Metropolitan Police, mainstream media and asealed U.S. Grand Jury indictment for the WikiLeaks founder.
In other places, Jeremy Hammond & Bradley Manning are already in chains,Edward Snowden is hotly pursued by the same powers. The courage of these people,the WikiLeaks crew and the Ecuadorian people inspires us all. Hopefully suchcourageous and solidarity is contagious. The world literally depends on itstransmission. If that sunny afternoon on a sidewalk in Knightsbride/ London with theEcuadorian community and friends is anything to go by, it's worth the effort.
Six protestors, including members of the LCW, broke into RAF Waddington a couple of weeks ago to protest the use of drones in Afghanistan. The six are pictured below (from left to right): Rev Keith Hebden, Chris Cole, Fr Martin Newell, Penny Walker, Susan Clarkson and Henrietta Cullinan. What follows is (the start of) a report of the action by Chris Cole.
Six anti-drone protesters (myself included) were arrested inside RAF Waddington on Monday (June 3). The protest had three aims; 1) to symbolically breach the secrecy and silence surrounding the British use of armed drones; 2) to bring information about the impact of airstrikes on Afghan civilians and 3) to symbolically begin conversion of the air base to peaceful purposes. We did this by creating a peace garden within the base, displaying information on buildings, hangars and sign posts about the impact of airstrikes on Afghan civilians (see bottom of post) and trying to find out information about the day-to-day use of drones at Waddington.
We were in the base for over an hour before being detained and arrested on suspicion of criminal damage. After being held on the base for some time we were driven off the site and saw large queues of traffic. Our presence had meant the base was `locked down' with all activity coming to a halt and no one was allowed to enter or exit the base.
We were detained by the police for over two hours before being processed. At this point we were told that we were being held incommunicado and not allowed a phone call to inform anyone of our arrests or to contact a solicitor. Unbeknown to us permission was being sort to gain entry to our houses in order to seize computers, mobile phones, diaries, and documents. In the afternoon we were each interviewed and told that we would be released and bailed pending further enquiries. By 10pm however it was becoming clear that we would be held overnight. Read full report here.