By Andy Grimm, Chicago Tribune
May 14, 2012
Dozens of demonstrators dashed into the Loop building housing President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters this morning, slipping past security guards and running up escalators as they kicked off what they called a “Week Without Capitalism.”
Eight protesters were led out in handcuffs about half an hour later after they refused to clear the lobby. They were cheered by other demonstrators who began dancing and singing folk and gospel songs.
The demonstration began with about 100 demonstrators picketing at Prudential Plaza, passing out rolls to commuters in what they called a symbolic invitation to break bread with world leaders expected here this weekend for the NATO summit.
The group, organized by the Catholic Worker movement, then tried to enter the building around 8:30 a.m. as guards locked the revolving doors. But some protesters were able to get into the lobby through side doors, some pushing back a guard as they rode up escalators.
About a dozen uniformed Chicago police officers entered the lobby and stood quietly at the back of the protest group as a demonstrator on the second floor read a statement, echoed by the few dozen demonstrators in the lobby below.
After the statement was read, most of the protesters filed out past the police, with one shaking hands with the building manager and a police lieutenant.
“Welcome to NATO,” the lieutenant said to the manager. “Let’s go see about (the people) on your balcony.”
A handful of protesters refused to leave the lobby and were handcuffed and placed into a squadrol.
Their fellow protesters sang “Ain’t Going to Study War No More” and cheered and thanked those who were arrested.
A line of police stood calmly behind their bicycles as the protesters sang and clapped. As the squadrol pulled away, the protesters broke out into dance and began singing the gospel song, “This Little Light of Mine.”
The protesters regrouped for a moment of silence outside 130 East Randolph in support of those arrested. Then one demonstrator began strumming an acoustic guitar and the group started singing “Let There Be Peace On Earth” as they marched down Randolph toward theCTA Blue Line.
Police said the eight arrested would likely be charged with criminal trespassing.
The group said members of Catholic Worker communities from at least 10 states gathered over the weekend for a retreat, and that Monday’s demonstration was meant to kick off “Week Without Capitalism” involving “nonviolent resistance to the corporate G8/NATO agenda.”
Jerica Arents, from the Rogers Park-based White Rose Catholic Workers, said some of the demonstrators had come from across the Midwest and would be joining NATO protests throughout the week. Arents said demonstrators are committed to remaining non-violent.
“We see NATO as using up a lot of resources in the city and the world,” she said.
From the White Rose Catholic Worker <firstname.lastname@example.org> – May 15
We’ve had an incredible weekend here at the convent at 1447 W. Superior! After welcoming about 100 Catholic Workers from around the nation, we dove into NATO analysis with Kathy Kelly on Saturday morning and a spokescouncil to clarify our understanding of integrative resistance in the afternoon. Ken Butigan of Pace e Bene joined us in the evening following a rousing (and hilarious!) liturgy presided over by St. Louis’ Carl Kabat.
But we never could have anticipated the strikingly beautiful action that unfolded this morning in front of Obama’s campaign headquarters. Hoping to set the stage for peaceful dissent against the systems of violence and oppression being represented in Chicago this week, we decided to host a celebration of performing the works of mercy outside of Prudential Plaza. Dancing and singing filled the sidewalk, along with invitations to break bread together, until we gathered for a moment of silence and made our way into the building (from Jerica Arents).
“Come to the table of community instead of the table of war.”
That was the message that 125 Catholic Workers brought to Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago, IL this morning. The demonstrators came to invite President Obama and NATO leaders to break bread and discuss ending the occupation of Afghanistan. After singing, dancing, and sharing breakfast with passers-by on the sidewalk, demonstrators entered the atrium to read their statement and continue to sing and dance. A smaller group continued upstairs in an attempt to reach the Obama campaign office with their invitation, but could not get farther than the second floor, as the building’s elevators had been shut off as soon as the group entered the building. After approximately 15 minutes police officers instructed demonstrators to leave, and arrested eight who instead attempted again to go upstairs (from Robyn Haas as she wrote in NCR).
This morning’s gathering was the final event of the 2012 Midwest Catholic Worker Faith & Resistance Retreat, a weekend of discussion, reflection, prayer, and action that drew activists from as far away as Massachusetts and California.
Media Coverage of Direct Action:
From Plato to NATO (updated blog on NATO protests): http://fromplatotonato.blogspot.com
Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/05/14-7
ABC News Channel 7 in Chicago: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=866093
Join the Catholic Workers at the NATO protests
CW Affinity Group for Sunday, May 20th Rally Downtown and other actions
Join us for this historic event!!! Will you join us in a nonviolent protest to injustice, war-making, and ecological destruction?! We are organizing a group to go downtown for the CANG8 Rally on May 20th to protest the NATO Summits in Chicago. We will meet at Holy Innocent’s Convent (1447 W Superior) at 9am for a breakfast and some last minute coordinating and then head downtown. Please join us at the convent if you would like to be apart of our affinity group. All ages welcome to join us!
The Rally starts at Jackson and Columbus at Noon and the march kicks off at 2pm.
You can contact Marie for more information at email@example.com or 901.201.1151. Let us know if you have questions or want to get involved! Please help spread the word! There is housing available.
Appeal for Support
While we are doing the best we can to stretch our limited resources by living simply, re-using things, and begging for donations such as food, we have incurred some significant financial costs in preparing the resistance retreat as well as our NATO protests. Please consider making a donation, if you are able, by sending them to the White Rose Catholic Worker. Checks can be made out to the “White Rose Catholic Worker” and mailed to 2127 W. Devon, Chicago, IL 60659. [Phone: 773.856.0315]
Online donations can be made and contact Jerica Arents <firstname.lastname@example.org> for more information.