London Catholic workers Katrina Alton and Fr Martin Newell a priest of the Passionist order, were arrested today after conducting a peaceful protest outside the DSEi arms fair.
The pair poured red paint over a sign advertising the fair, before raising their own banner, which declared: “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” They then knelt in prayer for 45 minutes before being arrested by police for criminal damage.
The red paint was to represent the blood of the many innocent lives that will be taken by the use of these weapons, their protest was a brave demonstration of resistance the vile arms trade which is a ‘legitimate’ and ‘important’ part of this country’s economy.
Katrina said she said she wanted to challenge those in power “to think what a difference could be made right now if all this money and resources was used to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and care for the sick just as Jesus asks us to do.”
Martin said: “We hope and pray that our action here today… will open the eyes of those who see but do not perceive, so that hearts of stone will be changed into hearts of flesh.” Read more here.
This is the second time (at least) that Martin has been arrested for protesting against this arms fair, last year he went to jail for a similar protest, which involved pouring five litres of red paint onto the ground, while another London Catholic Worker member Zelda Jeffers lay next to the fair’s check-in desk covered in red dye.
Martin refused to avoid jail by paying a fine for criminal damage, arguing that to do so would be “to co-operate with a system that is fuelling murder and mayhem around the world by promoting and protecting the arms trade.”
I interviewed Martin for my book in the spring, and found him to be a guy who is full of peaceful wisdom, and deep seated conviction, two qualities which I admire greatly.
It is vital that we support people like Katrina and Martin as they make these public declarations of ‘not in our name’, for otherwise we stand by as people use our tacit support to take the lives of others. The Catholic Workers as a worldwide movement espouse personalism in regards to getting involved with issues, which I think is a very good idea. Its too easy to pay a bit of money to a charity to do our caring for us, allowing us to live lives that are full of compromise and hypocrisy, content in the knowledge that we’ve handed over some blood money.
Read a previous post about another London Catholic Worker protest here.