Friday, July 19, 2019

Ten of 70 Catholics arrested in D.C. protest over Trump immigration policies will challenge charge of Failure to Obey a Lawful Order.


  Janice Sevre-Duszynska  and I had to join this action.  Our modern presidents have been beholden to Wall Street and the Pentagon.  Some have been worse than others.  I have never seen a president I could support.  Obama, for example, engaged in a killer drone assassination program and started to “refurbish” the nuclear weapons arsenal which will eventually cost taxpayers more than a trillion dollars.
  But there has never been any modern president like Donald Trump.  If you look at his administration and his cabinet officers, Trump’s selection process seems to be to find the most unqualified person for the job.  Alex Acosta, the former Secretary of Labor, had to step down because he gave a sweetheart deal to a sexual predator.  Trump’s proposed replacement is Eugene Scalia, an anti-union lawyer.

And of course, one of many groups dealing with the wrath of Trump is the immigrant population. This is most evident as the children of asylum seekers are separated from their families and placed in concentration camps. 

   On July 18, about 200 of us gathered outside the  Russell Senate Office Building, and many carried photographs of children who died while in U.S. custody.  The Trump administration has no sense of conscience and a total lack of morality, which caused 70 Catholics to take the risks of peace to protest Trump’s policies.  After our arrests, ten of us requested our day in court.  The Anti-Trump Ten are scheduled to be arraigned in D.C. Superior Court on August 21. It should be noted besides Janice and I, Sisters Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, Kathy Boylan and Michael Walli, all members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, and four others are also scheduled to appear.   

As someone who has been arrested many times in Washington, D.C., I must complain about the arrest procedures.  The arrests on July 18 began around 12:30 PM, and I was one of the first to be handcuffed behind my back.  There is no reason not to cuff people in front. Try sitting on a bus with your hands behind your back.   Next you are frisked, and my officer assaulted my testicles going up my left leg and again going up my right leg.  Once the bus was filled we were taken to a Capitol Police facility on K Street.         

There we were frisked again, and my testicles were again whacked. Why frisk a person again who remained in police custody?  It was a relief to have my cuffs cut off.  However, a few minutes later I was cuffed again, though this time my hands were cuffed in the front. There was absolutely no reason for being cuffed again. 

At least 15 officers were present to guard 45 women, many of whom were nuns, and 25 men, several of whom were priests.  Each prisoner was interviewed by an officer, and in my case I explained I was not paying out as I wanted to challenge my charge in court.  Once the interviews were completed, the farce began. 

   Despite an overflow group of officers, someone designed a ridiculous process to release 70 people.  One officer was placed at the printer, another officer placed a prisoner’s belongings on a table and the third officer would walk over where we were sitting and call out a name.  This one arrestee would go over to get a release form and his/her belongings and be released.  Then the procedure would be repeated.  Rather than doing at least ten arrestees at a time, the powers-to-be stuck with a silly process of involving just three officers while all of the others were looking at their phones or doing make-work assignments.

   As one of the Ten requesting a court date, I knew I would not be called until near the end of the process.  I was finally the 67th prisoner to be released, and it was after 5 PM.  This was a tremendous waste of time for both the police officers and their prisoners.  The only explanation I could conjure was that the police in this slow-moving assembly line were getting over-time pay.  Surely there were more important duties for the police to undertake.

  And we the protesters could have used those extra hours to continue to speak out about the injustice being committed on poor people seeking what we all want—a safe place to call home .  While going through this irrational procedure, I recognized that what was happening to me and the other protesters was nothing like the suffering of the border-crossers unfortunate enough to be  imprisoned by Trump’s minions.  As someone who engages in nonviolence, I am a gentle angry person.   I look forward to speaking out in a court of law about the abuse of people who are seeking asylum, a basic human right.  As a person of privilege, I hope to echo what I have read and heard about the suffering of the asylum seekers. And if possible, I will quote in the courtroom the poetry of Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” 

Kagiso, Max

70 Catholics arrested in D.C. protest over Trump immigration policies
A demonstration to end the practice of detaining immigrant children takes place at the Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday. (Marlena Sloss/The Washington Post)
July 18 at 2:15 PM
The Lord’s Prayer filled the marble dome of the Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday as 70 Catholic sisters, clergy and parishioners were led away in handcuffs.
“Forgive us our trespasses,” the demonstrators recited, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
On a day they dubbed the “Catholic Day of Action,” hundreds of Catholics gathered outside the Capitol to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies and its treatment of migrants.
“We hope that by being here and putting our bodies on the line, we can give people, members of Congress, courage to do the right thing,” said Sister Marge Clark, from the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “It’s important to go beyond words, to put your body where your words are, where your beliefs are.”
In their hands and fastened to their bodies, demonstrators carried photographs of migrant children who died in federal custody into the Russell building, where more than 30 senators have offices. As five protesters lay on the floor of the rotunda to make the shape of a cross with their bodies, the group recited the children’s names:
“Darlyn,” protesters chanted in unison. “Jakelin. Felipe. Juan. Wilmer. Carlos.”
Protesters recited the Lord’s Prayer at the Russell building. (Marlena Sloss/The Washington Post)
Demonstrators carried photos of migrant children who have died in federal custody. (Marlena Sloss/The Washington Post)
Thursday’s demonstration was the second protest this week in which people of faith decried Immigration and Customs Enforcement and called for an end to the federal practice of detaining migrants at crowded detention centers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ten Jewish demonstrators were arrested Tuesday for refusing to leave the lobby of ICE headquarters in Southwest Washington. More than 100 others locked arms and formed barriers around the building’s doors and garage, disrupting the agency’s daily operations.
Thursday’s protest, which called for an end to child detention, was organized by a coalition of more than 15 Catholic groups, including the Sisters of Mercy, Faith in Action and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Demonstrators are reading excerpts from interviews lawyers have conducted with children in detention. Between each reading, the group joins in song: “Lord have mercy.” #CatholicDayOfAction #DC
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NOW: Inside the Russell Senate building here in #DC, where dozens of Catholic nuns, parishioners and other leaders are preparing to be arrested by Capitol Police on this #CatholicDayOfAction in protest of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
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“We are here today because of our faith. The gospel compels us to act,” Sister Ann Scholz, associate director for LCWR’s social mission, told the crowd. “We are outraged at the horrific treatment of families and especially children. The inhumane treatment of children being done in our name must stop.”
Though Pope Francis and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have long affirmed their support for migrants and refugees, Catholic voters are split on the issue of immigration, according to surveys conducted earlier this year by the Pew Research Center.
Sister Gayle Cumbley is arrested. (Marlena Sloss/The Washington Post)
Catholic Democrats are more likely than Catholic Republicans to view immigration as a boon rather than a burden to the United States — 86 percent to 47 percent — and are more likely to oppose expanding a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We can and must remain a country that provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence, persecution and acute poverty,” the Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in a statement last month. “All people, regardless of their country of origin or legal status, are made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect.”
Claribel Guzman, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, bounced her 17-month-old daughter in her arms Thursday as demonstrators read aloud the words of migrant children detained at federal facilities.
Guzman, afraid of being deported to a country she fears and of being separated from her child, said she has been weighing her options. Maybe, she said, she would seek sanctuary at a local church.
Later, as Franciscan brothers in brown robes were arrested alongside Catholic sisters, Guzman looked on, her head shaking slightly.
“This is my fight now, for my daughter,” she said in Spanish. “It’s very frustrating, very difficult. I am alone here. But in this moment, seeing people like this helps me.”
The demonstration came less than a week after President Trump promised a crush of immigration raids in cities around the country. Though they failed to materialize Sunday as the president promised — Trump said he wanted agents “to take people out and take them back to their countries” — several sisters who work with immigrants said they have seen a lingering fear grip their communities.
“It’s so much worse now. So much worse than we’ve ever seen it, and every day my stomach sinks when something new comes out,” said Sister JoAnn Persch, 85, a Chicago nun with the Sisters of Mercy. “But you know what I’ve learned? I’ve learned that nuns have power. And that’s why we’re here.”
Persch and Sister Pat Murphy, 90, began working with immigrants in 1990, when they took over Su Casa, a Chicago refuge for Central American women, children and torture survivors. In 2007, they began sitting vigil outside the Broadview Detention Center, an ICE facility near Chicago that is often a last stop before immigrants are sent back to their home countries.
Dan Moriarty, center, Sister Karen Burke, right, and Sister Barbara Battista, left, form a cross in the Russell Senate Office Building rotunda. (Marlena Sloss/The Washington Post)
They return every Friday — no matter the weather — to pray the rosary.
“Those little children and their mothers and fathers coming across the border, those who are here in the United States, are maligned, called names. It’s rude, crude, disgusting,” Murphy said. “The climate in the country now is very sad, and it’s scary. It’s a scary time.”
The sisters were among about 50 nuns who participated in Thursday’s act of civil disobedience.
As police officers led the last group away, hands zip-tied behind their backs, the demonstrators sang a hymn.
All that remained were photographs of the deceased children, scattered across the Capitol’s hard, cold ground.

Watch here as Sister Pat Murphy, 90, is arrested and led out. Sister Pat works with migrants and refugees in Chicago, and has been holding a weekly vigil outside ICE there for 13 years. She says the treatment of migrants should outrage all people of faith #CatholicDayOfAction #DC
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Capital police officers are dismantling the human cross these Catholics made with their bodies on the Russell Rotunda floor during today’s #CatholicDayOfAction. On their chests are photographs of migrant children who have died in recent months while in federal custody. #DC
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Marissa J. LangMarissa J. Lang is a local reporter covering the D.C. metro area. Follow 

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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