For Immediate Release
Justice Department Blockaded, No Arrests Made, in Shut Down Guantanamo Action Today
WASHINGTON - Sixty anti-torture
activists blockaded the entrances to the Department of Justice for an hour and
a half this afternoon. The action was to protest Washington's failure to close
the Guantánamo detention center and continued use of torture against detainees
at Guantánamo and other prisons that comprise the “gulag” operated by the
military and security agencies around the world.
Witness Against Torture's Website, www.witnesstorture.org, for photos and video of today's blockade and text of
WATs's letter of demands to Attorney General Eric Holder.
“Sixty people blocked three
entrances to the Justice Department,” said Matt Daloisio of Witness Against
Torture, which organized the day of action against torture. No arrests were
made. “Warnings were issued at one point, but the police appeared to change
their plans and called off bringing buses to take away the blockaders. U.S.
authorities have deeply disgraced this country by refusing to end torture and
provide its War-on-Terror prisoners with speedy trials. Rather than call more
attention to this fact by detaining activists who put themselves at risk today
to bring this message to the public, they backed off.”
The Day of Action extended beyond Washington. Ten were
arrested at the Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois this afternoon, and actions
were also held in Miami, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and elsewhere.
“This first day of action was a
significant success,” said Cooke. The actions kick off an 11-day Fast for Justice to end torture and close
Guantánamo. Over 100 people around the country have signed up for the 11-day,
liquid-only fast. Close to 50 fasters will be in Washington for the entire
period, holding a vigil each day in front of the Justice Department.
The blockade followed a rally at
the White House attended by more than 350 people and that included Witness
Against Torture, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Amnesty
International, and British journalist Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files and co-director of the documentary Outside
the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.
Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. For the first 100 days of the Obama administration, the group held a daily vigil at the White House, encouraging the new President to uphold his commitments to shut down Guantanamo.