Jan. 11, 2011, marked the ninth anniversary of the arrival of prisoners to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. To mark this date, staff members of the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago gathered with others in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience in Chicago, calling for closure of the detention center.
8th day members were joined outside the Federal Courthouse downtown by Coalition partners -- including representatives from Christian Peacemaker Team, White Rose Catholic Worker, Witness for Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Viatorian Community, and Illinois Coalition Against Torture. The protest vigil included prayer and nonviolent witness.
Ten women and men dressed as Guantanamo detainees held vigil with others to represent the 174 men imprisoned at the base without charge. Prisoners' names were announced as the crowd replied, "is looking for justice," according to Katie Varatta, SSJ-TOSF Social Justice Director and 8th Day staff member. The group also sang, "Courage, Muslim brothers. You do not walk alone. We will walk with you and sing your spirit home."
Police arrested the 10 protestors dressed as detainees when they refused to leave the site. They had asked to deliver a letter to a federal judge requesting he help start a trial process for Guantanamo prisoners, but were refused. They were charged with a federal misdemeanor.
On Jan. 22, 2009 -- two days after being sworn in as president -- President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the detention center within one year. That order was later vetoed by Congress.