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In Start of Week of Civil Disobedience, Protesters Arrested at Obama HQ in Chicago

Members of Catholic Worker movement demand end to NATO occupation of Afghanistan

- Common Dreams staff

Starting a "Week Without Capitalism" with nonviolent resistance to NATO, members of the Catholic Worker movement went to President Barack Obama's national campaign headquarters in Chicago this morning to demand an end to NATO's occupation of Afghanistan and for a world without war. (photo: Steve Rhodes)

The Chicago Tribune reports that the nearly 100 protesters began their demonstration outside Prudential Plaza, where Obama headquarters are located, by passing out rolls to passersby as a symbolic invitation to break bread together.

Protesters entered the building, and when security blocked the front revolving doors, some simply entered through another door.  Video below shows the group reading a statement from inside the building.

When some of the protesters refused to leave the building, the Chicago Sun Times reports that 8 were arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

"We are here today to boldly proclaim our desire to live in a world where we say no to NATO and yes to community," said Chantal de Alacuaz from Chicago in a statement from the White Rose Catholic Worker. "As Catholic Workers, we serve the poor by practicing the works of mercy--feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, taking care of the sick and the works of war are directly opposed to that."

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Videos posted from Youtube user arirhodes show Catholic Workers reading their NATO statement at Obama headquarters and singing This Little Light of MIne before getting arrested:



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Catholic Worker Statement on NATO/G8 Summits

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO forces—led by US interests and the West's insatiable appetite for oil and free markets—have been controversially involved in conflicts in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. In 2010, NATO countries spent a collective $1.08 trillion on defense and military expenditures, including a resurgence of nuclear weapons. The US and NATO are leading the way for the militarization of the globe at the expense of human and environmental needs. We say no to nuclear weapons, no to the out-of-control defense spending, and no to the logic of violence.

The G8—the Group of Eight, including the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany, France and the UK—represent the destructive engines of capitalism whose “growth-at-all-costs” mentality has desecrated communities, the environment, and human rights all in the name of progress. As people of faith and conscience, we advocate relationships and economics rooted in love: the works of mercy at a personal sacrifice, craft and worker-based cooperatives, gift and barter economies, agrarian communities, and a more simple lifestyle. Let love be our guide for our collective future without war and capitalism.

As Catholic Workers, we call for May 18-21 to be a weekend of nonviolent protest against the capitalism and militarism of NATO-G8. Catholic Worker communities around the country are invited to engage in “A Weekend without Capitalism”— a four day act of noncooperation where we refuse to participate in the political and economic structures that oppress our sisters and brothers, harm our communities, and destroy our environment. We will take time off work and school and, instead, invest this time into healthy, just, and sustainable alternatives for our communities. We will not support the corporate state by using our cars or consuming goods or services from which the state profits. Instead, we will do as Jesus taught us: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the imprisoned. We will protest injustice and war, host free markets and skills shares, work on community gardens, invest in alternative economics, act as peacemakers and organize our neighborhoods for direct action.

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See Marcus Demery's photos of the morning's action on Flickr.

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