PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release
Attention: News Assignment
Peace Activists Stage Dramatic ‘Die-In’ at Holy Name Cathedral to Protest Anniversary of Iraq War
Group decries Cardinal George’s January 7 meeting with Mayor Daley and President Bush, the ‘chief architect’ of the ongoing carnage in Iraq.
CHICAGO, March 23 – Six members of the anti-war group “Catholic Schoolgirls Against The War” staged a dramatic die-in during the 11AM Easter mass at Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago’s most prominent Catholic parish – and the home of one of the nation’s most conservative church leaders, Cardinal George.
The three men and three women activists timed the action to reach both Holy Name’s large easter audience – including Chicago’s most prominent Catholic citizens, who commonly attend Easter mass at the church -- and the many more viewers and readers of the local press, which usually extensively cover the services.
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The action was staged in the Gold Coast cathedral’s parish center, an auditorium where mass is being said while the main cathedral undergoes renovation. Easter services at Holy Name are traditionally one of the most heavily attended masses of the year, and this mass was no exception, with people packed wall to wall for today’s Easter morning holiday service.
The group of young men and women, dressed in their Easter best, sat through the 11AM mass until George reached the homily. A few seconds into the cardinal’s main holiday message, the protesters rose from their seats, turned to address the thousands of parishioners in the auditorium, and talked about the continuing death of both Iraqis and Americans in Iraq as the war enters its sixth year.
The protesters also reminded the churchgoers that on January 7, 2008, cardinal George and Chicago mayor Richard Daley met in Chicago with U.S. president George W. Bush – the principle public figure responsible for initiating the carnage in Iraq – and denounced this meeting.
The protesters then laid down in the aisles and discharged packets of fake blood that covered them in red. Stunned ushers rushed in after a moment or two to try to remove the protesters, and also brought in some Chicago police officers who were stationed in the lobby to help with traffic control for the overflow crowd. The protesters did NOT resist arrest, agreeing to stand up and walk out of the auditorium, where they were subsequently arrested by cops outside. During a ten minute wait for a paddy wagon to show up, the activists conducted a series of media interviews with local television outlets. When the paddy wagon arrived, the cuffed protesters were loaded and taken to an area police station.
The impact inside the auditorium was powerful. According to an eyewitness on the scene, once the protesters were led out, the audience sat in shocked silence for a few moments. George then said “And we should thank our friends for what they have had to say," – and the parishioners responded with a round of applause.
Supporters of the protesters are still awaiting word on their final destination and the charges they may ultimately confront, although police stated at 12:15PM that the activists are currently being held at the 18th District police station, located at 1160 N. Larrabee Ave., 312-742-5870.
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NEWS ALERT: The Chicago police department has just release information that the six young people arrested at a die-in at Holy Name Cathedral today have been charged with one count of felony criminal damage to property and two counts of simple battery. For a more complete accounting of the story, go to the Chicago Independent Media Center's website at chicago.indymedia.org.
The arrestees are Angela Haban, 20 years old, female; Regan Maher, 25 years old, female; Mercedes Phinaih, 18 years old, female; Ephran Ramirez, Jr., 22 years old, male; Donte D. Smith, 21 years old, male; and Ryane J. Ziemba, 25 years old, male
According to the police, all arrestees are scheduled to be in court on these charges on March 31 at Branch 42 at 9am. CIMC is currently trying to confirm this date, and also to identify the date and time for the arresttees' bond hearing, which will likely be some time tomorrow, Monday, March 24. Attorneys report that bond, particularly for the felony count, could run into tens of thousands of dollars, with the arrestees required to post 10% of that. The last activist arrested on a trumped-up felony charge at a protest was slapped with a $60,000 bond. He spent two days in jail while supporters assembled the $6,000 it took to bail him out.
Supporters have asked the public to contact the following individuals about jail solidarity, including information on how to support the activists bond support fund: Jeff Pickert at 773-551-2353 or firstname.lastname@example.org
; Kevin Clark at 773-267-5198 or email@example.com
Ryane J. Ziemba, one of the activists involved in today's protest at Easter Mass is currently being denied his medication.
Despite multiple requests for his inhaler Chicago Police at the 18th District (near Division and Halsted) are refusing to give Ryane Ziemba the medication. Ryane's friends are asking that people call the station at 312-742-5870. We also are asking that people maintain a physical presence in front of the jail until the Police allow Ryan to use his medication.