Friday, December 23, 2011

Chicago Protests Guantanamo Detention

Chicago was the site of major protests against U.S. detention practices in Guantanamo, as well as in Bagram, other prisons throughout Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world, on and around January 11, 2012. We called for an end to indefinite detention, unfair trials, and torture.

Rally and action in Federal Plaza (Wed Jan 11)
Teach-in and related activities (Sat/Sun Jan 7/8)
Daily vigils (Jan 2-11)
Andy Worthington - film screening & talk (Sat Jan 14)
January 11 in D.C. & the rest of the world
"The Response" - a film about Guantanamo
See also actions in OTHER MIDWEST CITIES

On January 11, 2012 -- the 10th anniversary of Guantanamo -- we met at 3 pm in Federal Plaza (Dearborn and Adams) for a rally, march and human chain.

VIDEO: January 11 rally - Federal Plaza, Chicago
See full description and photos of the January 11 Chicago demonstration!

The January 11 action in Chicago was sponsored by Chicago World Can't Wait, Witness against Torture, 8th Day Center for Justice, the Midwest Anti-War Mobilization, Christian Peacemaker Teams, and Amnesty International.

TEACH-IN: Saturday
A teach-in was held on Saturday, January 7 2012, at Grace Place (637 S. Dearborn) in Chicago. Topics included:

* Torture in U.S. and Illinois Prisons, with ICAT and Gregory Koger
*Torture laws and State of Guantanamo, with a viewing of the film “The Response” and lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees.
* Stories from Victims and Survivors of Torture
*Political repression and Prosecuting war criminals, with Chicago World Can’t Wait.

View the full report about the January 7 teach-in.

Gregory and Mario shared some of their reflections and experiences as survivors of torture. Melinda and Eldon gave us a history, update and opportunity to sign the petition for a Torture Free Chicago Resolution (info for the hearing is below). We had a viewing of the Reponse with a discussion led by Joe and two Guantanamo detainee lawyers: Len and Candace. We got to hear in detail how the Habeus Corpus hearings work and what conditions are like for prisoners interacting with their lawyers. After a vigil on Michigan Ave and meal of soup, we reconvened through songs, led by Chris Inserra and Jim Manzardo. Matilde then shared her heartbreaking/hopegiving journey of healing and activism. To end our day, Jay, Gregory and Bill engaged us in a conversation about the prosecution of war criminals and it's historical precedents, an update on the grand jury subpenoas and raids that happened last year in Chicago and Minnesota, and the NDAA. It was an amazing day of learning and sharing information and confirming our urgency to gather on Jan 11.

Date & Time: Sunday, January 8, 2012 - 10:30 am-8 pm
Location: Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, 615 W Wellington

10:30am-noon: Special worship service on the theme of torture, followed by coffee hour
1:00-4:00pm: Nonviolence training for social movements with Pace e Bene and the White Rose Catholic Worker
5:00-8:00pm: Planning for the January 11 National Day of Action with Christian Peacemaker Teams and 8th Day Center for Justice

Read more about Sunday worship service on the theme of torture followed by non-violence training.

We gathered for an moving worship service at UCC Wellington. We sang a White Rose favorite (Woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Justice) to start off. Susan and Dan took it from there, incorporating poems from the men in Guantanamo, a reading from Matthew about the massacre Herod ordered, and a history of Wellington's activism around ending torture. After a great meal, prepared by Gerald, Ken and John led us in a nonviolence training, asking us to explore our motivations, fears and hopes in direct action, but also teaching us about the stages of a social movement and the different roles we must play in our movements. After diner, we got down to planning our action on Wednesday with our Christian Peacemaker Team friends, which Kryss and Julia facilitated. We came up with some creative and awesome ideas so please join us on Wednesday for the rally to witness them!

Dates: January 2 through January 10
Daily Times & Locations:
Monday, Jan 2: We had our opening vigil at State St. and though only a small group of us, had some good interactions with passersby there by DePaul. We also had the opening of our exhibit at Mess Hall: "A Movement to End Torture". Come make your own art project, or write a letter to a detainee. It's all set up, and we hope you come check it out this week (every day from 3-5pm, Friday until 8pm). We also survived our first day fasting! We are mindful of those who have been on hunger strike while detained.
Tuesday, Jan 3: We enjoyed joining 8th day and some Occupiers on a frigid morning in front of the Board of Trade to say no to war and terror, as people were rushing to work. It felt good to be with other folks, and who have been doing a weekly vigil for more than 10 years (since 9/11)! Afterwards we gathered at 8th day for a refreshing discussion, where we got to learn about the history of this sustained vigil from some who have been there since the beginning, and shared reflections and encouraging words on the importance of faithfulness not effectiveness, the karma of small numbers, persistence, and how, because of these things, the Tuesday vigil has been able to reach out to folks in a personal way, and connect with them and even get to know them in a way that is not possible in a larger one-time rally. People come to expect them to be there.
Wednesday, Jan 4: noon - Boeing Headquarters (100 North Riverside Plaza) Profound apologies for the mix-up of Wednesday's vigil. I know several of you came to 400 S. LaSalle and we missed each other! We were confused trying to find the Boeing sign-- turns out there isn't one because it has moved, which we weren't able to put together until later. They are now located at 100 N. Riverside, at Washington + Canal (on the river). Don't know if we can blame that one on the fasting. Sorry for the inconvenience. Nonetheless, when we were finally settled into the wrong place, we made a good witness I think. Some good conversations with security guards and police- one said "I do not trust the government" when hearing about rendition flights. Another passerby said, "what the hell are rendition flights?" and then continued a 20 minute conversation with John and was very supportive of what we were doing. Lots of people asked what rendition flights were, in response to our sign that said "Boeing: Stop Rendition Flights".
Thursday, Jan 5: noon - Metropolitan Corrections Center (Clark & Van Buren) Several people joined us in handing out leaflets and holding signs calling for an end to torture, islamaphobia and the closing of Guantanamo. In the evening, a dozen of us gathered with John Neafsey and Meg Marshall who are therapists at Kovler (Center for victims of torture), for some time to reflect on the crucified Christ and our 10 days of fasting and vigiling. "Why is this issue so important to us as citizens, as human beings, and also as Christians?" and "How does it move us to witness?" were some of the questions we sat with during our time.
Friday, Jan 6: 7:15 a.m. Broadview Detention Center We then joined UCC Wellington for a conversation about the history of this vigil and the work they have done to create laws that provide for some sort of human dignity and push for their implementation in Chicago. In the evening, 8 of us participated in a dramatization of a play relaying the stories of 3 men in Guantanamo, as well as their family members, lawyers, and other policy makers. It was followed by a powerful discussion on the existence of Guantanamo Bay and the NDAA.
Monday, Jan 9: noon - Illinois Building (Randolph & Clark) We had a great vigil at the Illinois State Building where Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office is. It was probably one of our most interactive vigils- lots of people who had never heard of the Jon Burge torture cases, others who were very supportive, many with questions- one woman asked if we were here to end torture by police in their homes- John said we are against that- it turns out she was married to a police and abused for 20 years- and said it ruined her. A telling remembrance that all suffer when torture happens. Tuesdaywe joined 8th day and friends at the Occupy site, it was great be in the presence and be there to say 'good morning' to people rushing to work and their days, hopefully putting a little pause in their step or at least their mind.

See also the transcript of the wrap-up roundtable.

Chicago World Can't Wait was excited to bring to Chicago for the first time independent journalist and renowned expert on American detention practices and issues relating to Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, Andy Worthington, on January 14, 2012. He screened his film, "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo".

Read the full description for the Chicago Andy Worthington event.

See the Witness Against Torture January 11 page for complete information about the D.C. actions and others across the country and around the world.

"The Response" is a courtroom drama based on the actual transcripts of the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals [officially known as Combatant Status Review Tribunals, or CSRTs]. In the film, three military officers must decide the fate of a suspected enemy combatant. Is he guilty of providing material support to Al Qaeda and responsible for the deaths of several American soldiers? Or is he an innocent victim of circumstances as he claims?

For complete information -- including official movie trailer and DVD purchase info -- see the official website for "The Response".

You can also read my blog post about how I became affiliated with "The Response" -- and how we all need to get involved in rectifying the abuses represented by Guantanamo and U.S. practices of indefinite detention!

Related posts

The Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo holds weekly vigils at Dearborn and Jackson in Chicago every Friday at 4:30 p.m. to support the Guantanamo Hunger Strikers and to demand that Guantanamo be shut down.

(Learn more about weekly vigils by the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo.)

NOW THEREFORE, by the power vested in me, and on account of the actions on the part of the recipient today described, as well as others, I hereby declare the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize award to Barack H. Obama officially revoked.

(See Obama Nobel Peace Prize - REVOKED! )

“The worst thing is the administrative detention regime the Afghans are adopting is exactly the same as what the U.S. government has been doing for the last 10 years .... The legacy left here by the U.S. is people disappeared into legal black holes.”


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