Catholic Worker stages protest at Obama headquarters in Chicago

Details:

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, organized by the Catholic Worker movement. began with about 100 demonstrators picketing at Prudential Plaza and 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.

After about 30 minutes marching and singing outside the building, the group tried to enter the building and reach Obama’s campaign offices around 8:30 a.m.

Guards locked the revolving doors, but protesters slipped through unlocked doors off to the sides. Some pushed past a security guard who tried to block their entry but quickly gave up as protesters poured through the doorway.

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.

Workers on their way to the escalators filed quietly through the lobby, most hardly taking notice of the demonstration.

“I was definitely expecting something like this this week, but I didn’t expect it to start now, on Monday,” said Matt Archambault, who came down from his office to watch the demonstrators. “It’s a good test to see how things are going to go the rest of the week.”

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 remained inside near the elevator banks to the upper floors and refused to leave when asked by the building manager and police. They were handcuffed and escorted out a side door, singing “This Little Light of Mine.”

Read more.

Comments

  1. “White Rose” Catholic workers. I love it! This is the near future of Living As Catholic in America: not the polite, bourgeois, feckless Marches for Life, but disruptive non-violence.

    I am sure I may have some differences with these people on certain prudential matters. I don’t care. God bless them. May their tribe increase.

  2. Deacon Norb says:

    Considering that one of the founders was Dorothy Day and she was one of the ONLY “anti-war” voices that were active within the Catholic Community during World War II, I’m not at all surprised they “re-surfaced.”

    Maybe “re-surfaced” is a bad term. They have had a continual history since their very beginnings — it’s just that their ministry has been very much in the background.

    Dorothy Day should be promoted up the scale to become a saint — however she never wanted that honor. Frankly, she thought it was a waste of money.

  3. I applaud the desire to recall America from its love affair with war and its attendant mammon. It is a call that we all should heed and honor. The non-violence speaks volumes about the true power of the Prince of Peace.

  4. ron chandonia says:

    The Catholic Worker communities are models for many of the newer intentional communities that have arisen since Vatican II, both within the Church and on an ecumenical basis. As Dorothy Day did, they take the gospel very seriously and sometimes far more literally than more comfortable Christians are willing to do. Christians who are more entrenched in the values of our culture try to ignore them because they cannot believe this is what Jesus really would have wanted–or maybe because they fear it might be exactly what he had in mind.

  5. The USA should spend a lot less on defense. Our political choices for the defense budget seem to be “slightly less” and “more”.

  6. “We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists of conspiring to teach to do, but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York.”-Dorothy Day

  7. Bill McGeveran says:

    Good grief! These people may be admirable in many ways and deserving of respect and in some ways emulation, but they are far too radical, The same goes for Dorothy Day, though I am all for her canonization…

  8. ” … they are far too radical.”

    radix = root

  9. Kimberley says:

    GO Catholic worker movement. The silence of the alleged anti-war left on Obama’s war efforts are breathtakingly hypocritical.

  10. How are they far to radical? Is it there belief that wars are not good, and that the only folks who benefit from war are those in charge of the military-industiral-governmental process? Is it the idea that we need to claim voluntary poverty in order to help one another? Is it the idea that the system is decadent and based on making people commodities? I see nothing radical about their desires. Please explain how they are too radical.

  11. Fiergenholt says:

    Kimberly

    It really does help if you have done your homework and can fact-check first. The United States government is doing a great deal to de-emphasize the impact of our military throughout the world.

    In 2010, the U.S. Army had 566,000 folks in uniform; that is sharply down from the 1,323,000 in uniform in 1970 (the height of the Viet Nam War).

    In 2010, The U. S. Air Force had 334,000 folks in uniform; that is also sharply down from the 1970 high of 825,000.

    Since the demise of the Cold War in 1990, huge numbers of U. S. military personnel have left Europe: very large units were de-activated; a lot of bases — particularly in Germany — were closed and the facilities returned to the local governments. We went, I think, from several hundred thousand to several hundred European deployed personnel in less than twenty years.

    The Defense Closure and Re-Alignment Act issued its final report in 2005 and indicated that 183 bases in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam were permanently closed as a result of its actions. Another round of BRAC cuts was implemented in recent years but it is still continuing and no final report has been issued — at least that I can find. Bottom line, more cuts in process.

    Here is where these cuts hurt. Since 9/11, both a Republican and a Democratic president have felt compelled to get involved in some serious fighting in Western Asia. Since they do not have the big numbers of active duty personnel to tap anymore, both of these administrations have “activated” large numbers of National Guard personnel. There are all sorts of ramifications here that everyday folks — perhaps like yourself — simply do not understand.

    Under the U. S. Constitution, wars are not started by the military; they are started by elected public officials. Perhaps these Catholic Worker folk can remind us of that simple fact.

  12. Socialist Europe is imploding under debt and declining populations. Communism has collapsed after murdering a hundred million or so. Fascist Argentina is cycling through it’s standard fiscal failures.

    So now we hate capitalism. Hooray for us! What do we like?

  13. I think you have to read far more widely than the conservative blogosphere to break the silence. The president has many critics on his handling of Bush Adventurism in southwest Asia.

  14. Local economies. Small businesses. Fairness. Trust-busting. Agriculture aiming at feeding people. A sense of service and responsibility from those who lead in the business world. Upholding the law. Accountability to consumers. Truth-in-advertising. Transparent business practices.

  15. “A day without capitalism” ? Back in the 70′s I lived in a commune out in the northwest. We were all equals. Funny thing was- nobody wanted to wash the dishes or take out the garbage.
    Makes me wonder that perhaps deep down inside of these radical folks there isn’t the conviction that in the fair and equal world to come their giftedness will be instantly acclaimed with all the people demanding their leadership. “Let the others do the grunt work!”
    As Oscar Wilde wrote ‘only the superficial know themselves’

  16. No, I’d say the CW people I know are a lot more mature than your commune friends. The movement has almost a century of a lot of dirty work behind it.

  17. “It really does help if you have done your homework and can fact-check first. The United States government is doing a great deal to de-emphasize the impact of our military throughout the world.

    In 2010, the U.S. Army had 566,000 folks in uniform; that is sharply down from the 1,323,000 in uniform in 1970 (the height of the Viet Nam War).”

    Hardly surprising when the U.S.approach to modern warfare is based on drones, special forces and assassination. Those in charge don’t want a conscript army. That’s why the Berrigan et al innovations have helped the Catholic Worker move from conscientious objection to assertive liturgical nonviolent resistance and refuse to get outflanked by empire.

    Good work CW’s in Chicago, keep it real, keep the faith we are praying for you at the London CW. Don’t forget our prisoners, the empire may have put them out of sight, make sure they are nt out of mind! Free Bradley Manning! we are doing our best here for Julian Assange. The truth will set you (and them) free!

  18. Fiergenholt says:

    Ciaron: Huh ?

    “That’s why the Berrigan et al innovations have helped the Catholic Worker move from conscientious objection to assertive liturgical nonviolent resistance and refuse to get outflanked by empire.”

    I consider myself a fairly perceptive person but I confess I do not understand anything you stated here.

    Are you suggesting that the prophetic involvements of the Berrigan brothers had something to do with the CW movement?

    And what, pray tell, does the CW movement have to do with “assertive liturgical nonviolent resistance”?

    As a wise deacon friend of mine once rather perceptively stated after the Berrigans were arrested for splashing fake blood on a B-52 in a public open house/air show somewhere: “Museum pieces attacking museum pieces!”

  19. Deacon Norb says:

    Here’s another piece of the puzzle — compliments of The Huffington post:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/15/james-cartwright-nuclear-arms_n_1519404.html

    Considering that in 1966, the United States Military had slightly over 32,000 nuclear warheads, and that in 2009 President Obama announced that our inventory at that time had been reduced to 5,113, openly suggesting further dropping it to 900 warheads is another sign that even the military sees the need to reduce the threat level.

    I think my buddy “f” hit it right on the head. CW’s best mission is to keep the everyday electorate informed about their own responsibilities to elect as president someone who understands what war is and what it is not. I have my serious doubts if either of the two major candidates has that wisdom and understanding yet.

  20. Response to Fiegernholt

    Ciaron: Huh ?

    “That’s why the Berrigan et al innovations have helped the Catholic Worker move from conscientious objection to assertive liturgical nonviolent resistance and refuse to get outflanked by empire.”

    “I consider myself a fairly perceptive person but I confess I do not understand anything you stated here.” assessment isn’t it?”

    Well that’s always the problem with the subjectivity of self assessment isn’t it?. Modern warfare like every other profit driven industry is becoming increasingly capital intensive eg. generating energy coal v nuclear. The empire, (U.S. in this stage of history for how much longer, dunno?) these daze,does not need as much cannon fodder on the ground to do the killing basic to its maintenance and expansion, thus making the passive conscientious objection of the Quakers, Amish, 1940′s Catholic Workers anachronistic.

    The experiments of the Berrigans (and lesser known folks rooted in the CW tradition) of the draft board raids in the late 1960′s the plowshares action initiated in 1980 was an essential development for radical disciples of the nonviolent Christ. Got it now? There endeth the lesson!

    Are you suggesting that the prophetic involvements of the Berrigan brothers had something to do with the CW movement?

    And what, pray tell, does the CW movement have to do with “assertive liturgical nonviolent resistance”?

    I lived with Phil Berrigan for a year at the Jonah House community. I have been a Catholic Worker for 30 years, I have been part of 3 plowshares communities on 3 different continents that have nonviolently disarmed weapons systems. I have spent two years in a number of jails in various jurisdictions reflecting on this. You can trust me!

    “As a wise deacon friend of mine once rather perceptively stated after the Berrigans were arrested for splashing fake blood on a B-52 in a public open house/air show somewhere: “Museum pieces attacking museum pieces!””

    You are confused. If it was the Berrigans it was real blood donated for the witness/ action. There is nothing “fake” about the Berrigans. Maybe you are also confusing the disarmament of a B 52 Bomber my good self and 3 other Catholic Workers did on the eve of Gulf War 1 at Grifiss Air Force Base, upstate New York. (Now a joyfully defunct base and site of the 1999 Woodstock festival!). You are confused about your friend. Like many in these dark times, you confuse cynicism and wisdom. What is clear is that he is a coward. Did he ever say it to Phil’s face? i would have paid money to see that!

  21. Ciaron O’Reilly — your ROCK!

  22. Deacon Norb says:

    “f” buddy. Oddly enough, I think I have to agree with Ciaron about the facts of your story here. I did some checking on the Internet and found that the attack on a B-52 in a public open house/air show was held at what is now called Joint Base Andrews — in suburban Washington DC — in May 1998 (likely the third Saturday because that is traditionally “Armed Forces Day.”) Daniel Berrigan was not present at all — he was still alive at that time — but from the news reports neither were Ciaron nor Frank — who posted above.

    Now to Ciaron: I have been a part of this blog for about four years. Deacon Greg’s “Terms of Service” — which you can find on a button-link at the top of any of his pages — are fairly broad. All are welcome providing they use some common courtesy. We have regular folks who comment who are hard-core neo-orthodox Roman Catholics, or hard-core neo-orthodox Eastern Christians, or are hard-core evangelical fundamentalists. We even have a “white-witch” or two, and certainly a long list of Roman Catholic deacons. Everyone gets along pretty well.

    From my perspective, you are certainly welcome to become a regular. BUT, always expect to be challenged. That is what is fun about this blog — no one gets all cranked-up.

Leave a Comment


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X