January 16, 2003
Marking Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday & Anniversary of Gulf War Seventeen So-Cal Residents Arrested in LA's First First Ever Civil Disobedience Opposing a New War on Iraq
Former U.S. Naval Submarine Officer Who Served in Gulf War and Wife of Star of TV Series The Practice
Among those Arrested
LOS ANGELES (Jan 16)--Seventeen Los Angeles County residents were arrested today at 11:00 AM outside the downtown Federal Building when they staged street theater to dramatize their opposition to a new invasion of Iraq and express their hope for a peaceful US foreign policy. Participants in the action held a mock "funeral ceremony for the casualties of war" and called on the Bush Administration to reconsider its drive for another Gulf War.
"I feel the need to take whatever nonviolent action I can to prevent this immoral war and the killing of more innocent children," said Jeff Brown, a former U.S. Naval submarine officer who was arrested during the action. "I served in the first Gulf War and I have friends in the Navy who have told me they are encouraged by the work we do as peacemakers."
"Following the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr., I feel it is our right to dissent and speak out against hypocracy," said actress Shiva Rose, wife of actor Dylan McDermott, who stars in the popular TV drama "The Practice". "As a mother of a child I want to ensure a world where peace prevails and not bloodshed for oil."
During the dramatic ceremony, a grim "War" figure stood in the shadowed by a looming puppet of a white man in a suit. Members of the group laid out flowers and coffins as a reminder of the casualties of the Gulf War and crippling UN sanctions, as well as the domestic and moral costs of war. During a "litany of casualties," group members lay on the sidewalk, blocking the steps to the Federal Building, alongside coffins labeled "Truth," "American Soldiers," "Iraqi Civilians," "Healthcare," "Civil Liberties" and the "Dream of MLK." As the group was arrested, the puppet transformed into one of a mother and infant.
"Many of those arrested today are doing this for the first time," said Shady Hakim, an organizer with the American Friends Service Committee, who
sponsored the action locally. "These are ordinary people who are willing to face personal risk to express their opposition to an aggressive war on Iraq." Those arrested included: Shiva Rose McDermott, actor and wife of Dylan McDermott; Steve Abagon, a 26 year old Filipino-American Rock musician; Marlene Bronte, a senior and long-time activist; Jeff Brown, a former U.S. naval submarine officer who served during the Gulf War; Jeff Dietrich, a long-time faith-based activist with the Los Angeles Catholic Worker; Allis Druffel, a Director of Community Services at a large Catholic
parish in the Los Angeles area; Roger Eaton, a programmer and web designer from Los Angeles; John Harris, a teacher, whose students are reading
Thoreau's essay on Civil Disobedience. Also, Barbara Johns, a 30 year-old working in the film industry; Bob McCloskey a union representative who traveled to Iraq to deliver medicine; John McClean, a human resources representative; Kathy Pliska, a teacher in Long Beach and mother of two; Dan Merrit, a professor and grandfather of five; Bert Newton, a Mennonite minister from Pasadena; Jean Cone from San Gabriel; and Linda Harmon, a retired LAUSD teacher.
The local group is part of the Iraq Pledge of Resistance, a nationally coordinated civil disobedience campaign against a war or on Iraq. Coming on the heels of a mass rally in Los Angeles on Saturday, the "funeral" is a part of a national week of action called by the Iraq Pledge of Resistance
and major peace groups all over the country to resist the Bush Administration's drive for another Gulf War.