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  • Writer's pictureLondon Catholic Worker

Three CWers arrested on Good Friday

Three CWers were arrested after they breached the security gate at the entrance of 10 Downing St. in London, the home of the UK Prime Minister in a "Free Bradley Manning" Protest. The three arrested were Steve Jacobs of the Columbia MO CW, Frank Cordaro of the Des Moines IA CW and Ciaron O'Reilly of the London CW.

The witness took concluded the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross organized by the London CW, the London CW Farm and the Oxford CW. In the introduction to the booklet prepared for this years Stations, the CW'ers note that Christians around the world remember that Jesus was crucified, suffered and died to show God's love for us on this day. CW'ers believe that Christ continues to be condemned and crucified today, in those who suffer as a result of:

The Arms Trade - which crucifies the poor;

Climate Change - which crucifies creation;

War - which crucifies the innocent;

Torture - which is a form of crucifixion;

Nuclear Weapons - which threaten to destroy the earth;

International Debt - which is like the burden of the cross to the poor;

Homelessness - which reveals the ragged face of the crucified Christ;

Immigration Policy - which condemns innocent people fleeing persecution, poverty and violence.

To highlight each of these forms of modern day crucifixions a 'Geography of Suffering' was mapped out in the heart of London. Using the scripture reflections of Fr Emmanuel Charles McCarthy of the Center for Christian Nonviolence's Stations of the Cross as a template, 15 sites within walking distance were mapped out to correspond to the 15 traditional Stations of the Cross.

Starting with the first station at 10 Downing Street, a procession of 20 people moved to the Ministry of Defense building, the Dept. of Energy and Climate Change offices, the arms dealer Matra BAE Dynamics Alenia headquarters, the Foreign Office, the Parliament, the Milbank - home of the Committees on Arms Export Controls, the Security Service MI-5 building, a Home Office building - responsible for immigration control, former headquarter offices of Lockheed Martin - arms manufacture, the headquarters of Qinetiq - a British global defense technology company, offices of Rolls Royce - its military contract branch, the Defense and Security Organization offices, the Treasury Office and ending back at 10 Downing St.

When the group returned to 10 Downing Street. Ciaron O'Reilly made his way to the front of the crowd of tourists, close to the security gate. Frank Cordaro and Steve Jacobs followed close behind. At the same time a London police security officer open the security gate to let a car out of the Prime Ministers compound. That was all Ciaron, Frank and Steve needed to slip past the security officer and set up their protest inside the security space separating the public and the Prime Ministers compound. (Stroke of luck? Act of God? There are no accidents... )

What followed was a 40 minute stand off between the London police and the three CW'ers. The time was not wasted. As soon as it was clear that the police were not going to remove the three CW'ers immediately, Ciaron started doing what he is know best for - 'Soap Box' speaking. As hundreds of tourists made there way past the site, Ciaron started to inform them of why we were holding our protest to free Bradley Manning. When he stopped Frank and Steve stepped in to fill in with the public education moment, with help from NYC CW'er Carmen Trotta and Oxford CW'er Sr Susan Clarkson.

At one point Frank was able to read the Gospel of Mark's Good Friday account - stopping to remind the crowds were Jesus was being tortured in the text.

Through out the stand off, different London police officers tried to negotiate with Frank, Steve and Ciaron to remove themselves from the site, informing them that they were illegaly occupying space that could get them arrested and taken off to jail. All three CW'ers told the officers that they were perfectly aware of the possibility of arrest and jail and that despite this they were not going to remove themselves voluntarily.

Armed police showed up immediately, followed by a couple of vans of riot police.Police repeatedly informed Steve, Frank and Ciaron that they were going to be placed under arrest.

The 40 minute stand off concluded when the three CW'ers were escorted away from the prime ministers residence. All three were taken across the street, questioned and released - no charges have as yet been made. More pics: 1 | 2.

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