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News :: DNC : Organizing
6 Activists from Massachusetts Arrested at Pentagon; 2 from Boston face up to 6 months in Jail for Pouring of Blood
31 Jan 2004
Modified: 10:17:26 AM
Two activists from Haley House, the Catholic Worker House in Boston, pour blood on the Pentagon in an action to commemorate the massacre of the innocents and call for an end to war-making and military spending. The two go to trial in Virginia on March 19.
Reported from the Friends of Haley House Affinity Group, resist (at) haleyhouse.org

At 7:00 am on Monday, December 29, 2003, as hundreds of workers streamed into the Pentagon, 75 protestors vigiled outside calling for an end to war-making. While the protestors appealed to those entering the Pentagon, two activists from Boston approached the building and poured human blood on the pillars and doors. The two blood pourers, along with 15 other people were arrested by Pentagon Police and later released. Of those arrested, six are from Massachusetts, including Caroline Arpe, Sheila Stumph, Scott Langley and Steve Barnes (of Boston’s Haley House), Tom Lewis (of Worcester’s Emma House), and Tom Feagley (of Malden’s Bread of Life)

That Monday morning, during the annual peace witness, many vigilers held signs and banners, others leafleted with appeals for workers to leave the military. Sheila Stumph and Scott Langley, both 27 and from Haley House, the Catholic Worker community in the South End of Boston, made their way up to the entrance of the Pentagon from a nearby subway escalator with bottles of their own blood. Sheila and Scott poured the blood on the columns and doors at the entrance to symbolize the blood of the holy innocents. They then knelt in prayer as the sun rose and illuminated the pillars of red.

Within seconds, two Pentagon Police officers noticed what had happened and quickly handcuffed the two protestors, keeping them knelt in front of the bloody pillars. One-by-one, 15 others were arrested and brought over to the scene, creating an arc around the dripping blood.

The action symbolized the bloodiness that is already on the Pentagon. “The Pentagon works in the business of war and bloodshed everyday. Today we offer our blood to remember the victims of war, and to also offer hope – since blood is also a symbol of life,” said Stumph and Langley. “The pouring of blood is not with malicious intent and not with angry vengeance, but instead it is in order to give life to those whose blood has been spilled by the commands of the Pentagon,” they said.

Stumph and Langley are being charged with two federal misdemeanors: violation of a “preservation of property” law (the pouring of blood) and “admission to property” (failing to disperse and without a permit to protest). The other fifteen other people were arrested for refusing to disperse after handing out flyers and disrupting foot traffic with banners and their own bodies.

The action was part of a community "Faith and Resistance Retreat," which has been held in Washington, D.C., three times a year for the past thirty years. The December retreat is an annual gathering of faith-based resisters to commemorate the “feast of the holy innocents”, the biblical King Herod's mass murder of children to eliminate the threat of rival power that he feared.

The Catholic Worker and resistance communities in Washington and Baltimore, who organize the retreat each year, have made a particular effort to witness at the Pentagon regarding the issues of war and militarism. Since August of 1987 members have vigiled at the Pentagon each Monday morning in protest of militarism, war-making and nuclear weapons. The actions often involve symbolic acts including throwing blood and ashes, digging graves, chaining doors shut, painting shadows of the dead on roads, and blocking entrances.

Of the 17 arrested, the charges against 15 have been dropped. The remaining two, Stumph and Langley, will go to trial on March 19 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. and face up to six months in jail for the use of blood.

For more information or find out how you can support, contact Haley House at 617-262-2940 or resist (at) haleyhouse.org. Also visit www.haleyhouse.org/resist for more information, action statements, and court updates.
See also:
http://www.haleyhouse.org/resist
http://www.langleycreations.com/scott/resist

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