Their purpose: to bring their message to powerful and powerless people. Courts must listen, and keep records. And activists in jail continue teaching (and learning).
A prime example of how effective jailhouse witnessing can be is the story of Mitch Snyder, who was inspired by Phil Berrigan, and became a phenomenally effective homeless advocate in D.C.
When we first posted this article (April 1998), Phil Berrigan of Jonah House, who has been an inspiration for decades, had just been denied visits as he serves two years in prison. He was subsequently freed, and people's letters were instrumental in speeding that along. In October 2002, Philip Berrigan was diagnosed with a virulent cancer, and he died on December 6, 2002. His enormous funeral was attended by the most dedicated peace activists America has known.
You can learn more about the status of Plowshares, by e-mailing Jonah House: email@example.com. Information about all the Plowshares prisoners is also available through the Nuclear Resister, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Atlantic Life Community was active during Bush's Gulf War. In January 1991, Little Friends for Peace came to drum for disarmament with the Plowshares contingent. The same day, a group of Native American elders brought a Mother Drum from the Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota. The children went home, and a week later so did the Ojibwe drum, but the idea caught on. Other drums continued for the duration of the war, while Catholic Workers made daily trips with food to sustain the dozens of drummers, and the Atlantic Life Community appeared periodically to pray.
A number of people have vigiled outside the Sheraton Hotel in Washington DC in late March during the military-industrial Arms Bazaar, passing out thought-provoking literature about the costs of the arms trade, in lives and environment and dollars. For many years people have come in the fall to the Air Force Arms Bazaar. Some go inside the hotel to give speeches and unfurl banners and pray at daily exhibits and the Wednesday night banquet. Each year more people are arrested.
For all of these reasons, perhaps it's understandable that when police see the Atlantic Life Community arrive, backup vehicles and horses are usually called in.
What's Happening NOW?
Since 1991, there is a weekly prayer vigil at the White House every Friday at noon to end the war against Iraq. Since the mid-1980's, there are weekly vigils at the Pentagon metro exit at 7:30 a.m. every Monday.
You're invited! Call Dorothy Day Catholic Workers for more information about the weekly vigils: 202-882-9649.
We will be adding photos and news articles to this site in the future.
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