On 29 December, 16 Catholic Workers closed and occupied the Main Entrance of Northwood Military Headquarters in the north London suburb of Northwood.
Scott and Maria Albrecht, Henrietta Cullinan, John Lynes and Rachel Wood pitched tents, knelt and prayed in front of the main gate for 2 hours while others vigiled holding signs.
One tent had the words, The Prince of Peace pitched his tent among us. John 1:14.
A sign said War is not a Solution, which is a direct message from the Young Afghan Peace Volunteers.
Two signs quoted Bradley Manning: Revealing the true nature of 21st Century Asymmetrical Warfare and Removing the Fog of War.
A banner stating Occupy Northwood HQ not Afghanistan was hung on the fence. The gate remained closed for the duration of the occupation.
The Catholic Worker group had gathered to mark the Feast of Holy Innocents; when Catholics remember the children murdered by king Herod in his search for the infant Jesus. Catholic Workers make the connection with the powerful who continue to kill the innocents today in war, specifically Afghanistan. Northwood HQ is the command and control centre for British forces in Afghanistan, all joint forces and NATO operations abroad. Northwood HQ has recently experienced a £1.2 billion building project; these funds could have otherwise benefited the community.
The five occupiers were: Maria Albrecht (50), Scott Albrecht (49) from the Catholic Worker Farm, Hertfordshire, Henrietta Cullinan (50) from the Catholic Worker in Hackney, John Lynes (83) Quaker from Hastings and Rachel Wood (28) from the Catholic Worker group Sheffield.
A group statement said:
At a time when government cuts are affecting innocent children, pensioners, teachers, the sick and refugees the last thing we need to be doing is to continue spending billions on warfare. Human lives are the deepest cost. The government complains about a few tents occupying a small square outside St. Paul’s cathedral while we’ve sent thousands of soldiers to occupy other people’s countries and destroy their lives. This government needs to get its priorities right.
Catholic Workers also remembered Bradley Manning at last year’s Northwood action on the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Report here.
Thanks to Maria T Albrecht of the Catholic Worker Farm for the photos in this report.