Friday, April 10, 2009

My housemate is held over night after dramatic protest at White House

Catholic peace activist, Paul Magno, arrested at
White House while dramatizing the crucifixion

WASHINGTON -- Dramatizing a contemporary 'crucifixion,' a local peace and justice activist was arrested during a Good Friday nonviolent protest at the White House.

After two colleagues helped chain Paul Magno to the fence of the president's home, an assembled group of protesters, many with Witness Against Torture's 100 Day Campaign (http://www.100dayscampaign.org/), began to sing "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord." The action occured shortly after 12 noon, amid a crowd of tourists.

The activists are calling for the immediate closure of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and the end of all torture. The group has also begun calling for the closure of Bagram, Afghanistan, despite U.S. military plans to double the size of the military prison.

"Just as our Lord Jesus of Nazareth was torture and crucified, men in places such as Guantanamo and Bagram are being tortured and crucified today," Magno said. "Our president must act justly and immediately release those who have never been charged with a crime, but have been held for years."

Magno is being held overnight, and will likely be arraigned Saturday morning in DC Superior Court. It was not clear late Friday afternoon what crime he was being charged.

"We are here today to remember that men are being imprisoned, tortured and run through a sham of a judicial system, just as was Jesus Christ," said Carmen Trotta with Witness Against Torture.

Magno has been associated with the Catholic Worker movement for nearly three decades, and spent 20 months in federal prison for nonviolent resistance to the nuclear arms race following a Plowshares action in Florida in 1984. By comitting the action Friday, he will also be violating an unsupervised probation ordered 10 months ago by Judge Wendell P. Gardner of DC Superior Court, stemming from an earlier protest calling for the closure of the controversial Guantanamo prison camp.

Magno has been actively involved in the Washington Peace Center since 2004 as a former coordinator and currently a board member. He is currently on staff of Witness for Peace, an organization of people of faith and conscience engaged in supporting peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas.

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