CHICAGO: CPT trainees arrested advocating for Guantanamo detainees

17 January 2006

CHICAGO: CPT trainees arrested advocating for Guantanamo detainees

by Eileen Hanson

At 4:30 p.m. on 11 January 2007, CPTers entered the US federal Courthouse in
downtown Chicago, to call for end to indefinite detention and inhumane
treatment of detainees at Guantanamo.

11 January is an International Day of Solidarity to Shut Down Guantanamo,
and marks 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 the grave human rights abuses at Guantanamo.

CPT trainees Garland Robertson (Austin, TX) and Michael McMurray (Cleveland
Heights, OH) delivered a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the detainees--
asking that they be allowed to hear the charges against them--to the Chief
Justice James F. Holderman. Meanwhile, CPT trainees John Heid (Luck, WI),
Eileen Hanson (Winona, MN), Sarah Shirk (Chicago, IL), Joe Mueller
(Cleveland, OH), Sean O'Neill (Springfield, OH) and CPT reservist Cassandra
Dixon (Portage, WI), knelt in silence, dressed in orange jumpsuits and
hooded like the prisoners at Guantanamo. Five other local supporters were
present, having brought a banner inside saying "Charge Them or Release
Them." They remained in solidarity with the 'detainees' prayerfully singing
throughout the event.

In an unprecedented move, Chief Judge Holderman came down to the lobby of
the Federal Courthouse to speak with the group. He reviewed the writs of
habeas corpus, but declined to act on them saying the cases were outside his
jurisdiction. He recommended addressing the US Federal Court in Washington
DC and instructed federal marshals to allow the group to remain until 5:00
p.m., when the building would close.

At precisely 5:00 p.m., officers of the Federal Protective Service ordered
the group to leave and threatened arrest. After the 'detainees' and
supporters explained that they would remain in the courthouse until
Guantanamo closed down, officers began making arrests, removing the hoods
and handcuffing each one in turn.

Once in custody, Hanson, Heid and Mueller declined to identify themselves,
each saying that they had come in solidarity with a particular Guantanamo
detainee. 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 scheduled for an arraignment in March.