On July 22, CPTers carried symbols of death and destruction into the Chicago office of U.S. Congressman Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL), who has consistently voted in favor of funding the Iraq war. “We are delivering what Rahm Emmanuel has ordered through his votes,” said CPT training participant Paul Horst.
Horst, dressed in a delivery uniform, began to check off items on an order receipt as others filed into the office and deposited automobile parts, decimated household goods, broken toys, damaged medical supplies, small coffins, large photographs, and boxes labeled with additional types of war-torn debris, all to the steady beat of a drum. Then, participants representing dead or traumatized soldiers and civilians laid down their bodies amidst the rubble.
“Delivery Person” Horst informed the office staff that the group could not leave without Congressman Emmanuel’s signature, either on the order receipt or on a pledge to vote against future Iraq war funding measures. They presented a peace lily with the pledge, urging the Congressman to choose an alternative to war. The staff declined to fax either document to the Congressman’s Washington, DC office, so the die-in continued.
Outside the office, CPTers and supporters stood under a large banner that read, “Stop Funding Death and Destruction in Iraq.” They sang, beat drums, distributed leaflets and encouraged passing cars to honk for peace.
Shortly before 5:00pm, Chicago police arrived and arrested nine CPTers inside the office on charges of trespassing. Officers used degrading language and rough physical tactics including kicking against participant Andy Oliver, who remained limp in his role as a fallen U.S. soldier.
Most of those arrested were released from jail by 9:00pm. However, three of the women were held until 6:30 the next morning with no explanation. All nine appeared in court on August 15 where the charges against them were dropped.
CPT organized the witness as part of the Occupation Project – a Campaign to Stop Iraq War Funding initiated by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Hundreds of groups around the U.S. have occupied the offices of Senators and Representatives urging them to vote “NO” on the Bush administration’s requests. Many, including Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, have changed their votes and no longer support funding for the war in Iraq.
Members of CPT’s Summer 2008 training group who organized the witness were: Lyn Adamson (Toronto, ON), Karen Arnold (Suquamish, WA), Dennis Bricker (Iowa City, IA), Christine Downing (Breton, AB), Gladys Gómez (Bogotá, Colombia), Esther Mae Hinshaw (Newberg, OR), Sophia Hochstedler (Chicago, IL), Paul Horst (Chicago, IL), Daniel Huizenga (Peterborough, ON), Sam Nichols (San Diego, CA), Craig Kite (Waldorf, MD), Chris Knestrick (Cleveland, OH), Andy Oliver (Tumwater, WA), Hilary Scarsella (Bloomington, IN), Margaret Sumadh (Toronto, ON).