Saint Mary’s alumna discusses nonviolent civil disobedience

first_imgRosalie Riegle, oral historian and Saint Mary’s alumna, visited her alma mater Thursday to speak about her life’s work dedicated to nonviolent civil disobedience.“In 2004, I found myself contemplating, for the first time, doing serious civil disobedience, to show my outrage, my sadness and my emotional involvement in resisting our government policies,” Riegle said.Riegle read excerpts from her two books “Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace” and “Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community.” The Justice Education Program, the Center for Spirituality, the Cushwa-Leighton Library of Saint Mary’s College and the Catholic Peace Fellowship of South Bend co-sponsored the event.Riegle described her choice to participate in civil disobedience, an experience that could have sent her to jail for six months.“At an Air Force base outside of Omaha, I was with a group of Catholic workers where I was trying to decide, should I do this? Should I nonviolently cross the line?” Riegle said. “This action was a very simple, very prayerful action.”“We knelt down, said the ‘Our Father.’ They asked us to leave; we said the ‘Our Father’ again, and they arrested us. It took about 10 minutes.”“I think there were eight of us that, with a lot of supporters standing around, walked into the base and asked to see the base commander to give him a letter asking him to no longer be the command center that sends out all of the missiles,” she said. “We knelt down, said the ‘Our Father.’ They asked us to leave; we said the ‘Our Father’ again, and they arrested us. It took about 10 minutes.”Riegle met Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement in 1969. She said she later decided that she wanted to become an oral historian with the purpose of learning about the Catholic Worker.“I wrote my way into the movement,” Riegle said. “I interviewed 213 people from all over the country so I learned a lot about individual Catholic workers and how they lived the Catholic Worker life.”Riegle said she wanted to help people understand the process of participating in nonviolent civil disobedience and the experience of being jailed or imprisoned.“We have learned a lot from these Vietnam times, and when people are deciding to go to prison they spend some time in preparation,” Riegle said. “They talk to other people, read the books, know what it’s like and prepare themselves spiritually.”One of the Catholic Worker philosophies is if one wants to walk with the poor and minister and listen to them, one should be a prisoner his or herself, Riegle said.Riegle said the purpose of her books is not to treat nonviolent civil disobedience as an enterprise for success but as a practice that gives one the ability to work for something because it is good.“It’s the certainty that something makes sense regardless of the outcome,” she said.Contact Kate Kulwicki at [email protected]: Catholic Worker, incarceration, lecture, nonviolence, saint mary’slast_img read more

Students discuss Ferguson protest experience

first_imgStudents from colleges around Los Angeles were arrested last week for unlawful assembly in downtown Los Angeles during the protests following the grand jury decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.To the streets · Protesters gather in downtown L.A. the night of Nov. 24 following the grand jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson. – Benjamin Dunn | Daily TrojanOne student, Kiren Singh, a sophomore majoring in business administration, participated in the protests on Nov. 24 and 25. She decided it was necessary to join the demonstrations that she saw developing on Figueroa Street outside of her apartment.“I’m a person of color. I’m Indian, and I’m from the Bay Area,” Singh said. “I went to high school in Oakland, the Oakland-Berkeley area. I’ve always been very politically charged and for equality.”Singh said that while she wanted to stand in solidarity with the protestors, she also wanted to understand how police officers felt about the situation. On Monday night, she sat in front of LAPD headquarters before other protestors arrived and talked to Sgt. James Baker for a few hours. Baker has been featured in online media in a video in which he takes the time to explain why the police officers are doing what they are doing.“I think the issue at hand, at least for me, is that people who have pledged to protect us as their occupation, we fear them,” Singh said. “People think we live in a post-racial era, which is just not the case at all and it’s very much a prevalent issue in our society today. I think this is a huge movement for awareness and understanding just what our country is built on.”Her interaction with the police the next night was entirely different. Singh was walking down Broadway Street trying to find other protestors when she noticed about 30 police cars lined up. Singh said a police officer approached her and her friend and said they would be arrested if they continued up the street. She was confused at this because Baker had told her the night before that people are only arrested for unlawful assembly when they become violent. According to Singh, when she expressed that her interest was to understand, as a college student, what it’s like being a law enforcement officer in our judicial system, the officer handcuffed her.“For being on the sidewalk, I was unlawfully detained and searched. They took my wallet, went through my wallet, and because I didn’t have my student ID or driver’s license on me, they couldn’t ID me. They said that they would have to take me down to the station and get me fingerprinted,” Singh said. “I was sitting on the curb with metal cuffs around me. Especially after being manhandled, I didn’t feel it was necessary.”Singh continued to ask the police officer why she was arrested, and as soon as she mentioned talking to Baker, the officer’s superior, she was released, Singh said. The police officer proceeded to tell her that he has two daughters around the same age as her, and he wanted to save Singh and her friend from getting into trouble.Chelsea Kirk, a junior majoring in English (creative writing), was arrested on Tuesday night after partaking in what police said was an unlawful assembly. She was put onto a bus of 26 women, many of whom were undergraduate and graduate students at USC. Kirk was then transported to the Van Nuys police station to be booked for disturbing the peace.Kirk joined the protests at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night at 1st and Main streets with five of her friends. They eventually joined the group of protestors who walked onto the 101 freeway. Kirk was at the front of the protest during this time, face-to-face with dozens of police officers.She made her way off the freeway and ended up at Temple Street and Broadway at around 1:30 a.m., when the group of protestors was surrounded by police officers on every side of the intersection. She said there were so many police officers that it seemed there were five cops per protestor. Kirk said that she heard no warning that the protestors needed to disperse, but that a police officer spoke over a loud speaker, “You guys are subject to arrest for unlawful protesting.”Three buses pulled up and one by one, all 183 of the protestors were arrested and transported to a police station for processing. The 26 women on the bus Kirk was on were put in cells at the Van Nuys jail and were told to post bails of $500 or else they would not be released until the next Monday. Twenty of the women posted bail, and the remaining six were released by last Wednesday.Kirk said as she was being released, an officer said, “Make sure to give me a five-star review on Yelp.” Another police officer told her that she was lucky to be able to go home because they are on the job 24/7.“That’s the whole reason [the protestors] are here — because the system favors the [cops] and not them,” Kirk said. “Their words were very dehumanizing. I felt marginalized in the situation. I knew I wasn’t a criminal, and I still don’t understand specifically what we did to be arrested. I don’t think they exactly knew either.”last_img read more