CPT trainees arrested supporting detaineesby Christian Peacemaker Teams
CHICAGO—At 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 11, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) volunteers entered the U.S. federal courthouse in downtown Chicago to call for an end to indefinite detention and inhumane treatment of detainees at Guantanamo.
January 11 marked the fifth anniversary of the U.S. military bringing the first detainees to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Currently 435 men are incarcerated there, many of whom have been there for five years without charge or access to legal counsel. International human rights organizations and the United Nations have called for its immediate closure due to grave human rights abuses.
CPT trainees Garland Robertson and Michael McMurray delivered a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the detainees—asking that they be allowed to hear the charges against them—to Chief Justice James F. Holderman. Meanwhile, CPT trainees John Heid, Eileen Hanson, Sarah Shirk, Joe Mueller, Sean O’Neill and CPT reservist Cassandra Dixon, knelt in silence, dressed in orange jumpsuits and hooded like the prisoners at Guantanamo. Five other local supporters brought a banner saying, “Charge them or release them.”
In an unprecedented move, Holderman came down to the lobby of the courthouse to speak with the group. He declined to act on the writs, saying the cases were outside his jurisdiction. He recommended addressing the U.S. Federal Court in Washington and instructed federal marshals to allow the group to remain until 5 p.m., when the building would close.
At 5 p.m., officers of the Federal Protective Service ordered the group to leave and threatened arrest. The group said they would remain in the courthouse until Guantanamo closed down. Officers made arrests, removing the hoods and handcuffing each in turn. The Chicago police took custody of them and held them overnight.
The next morning, during their arraignment, their cases were dismissed. Dixon, Shirk and O’Neill each received federal citation for trespassing. They are to be arraigned in March.
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