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Giving Witness, Doing Civil Disobedience and Going to Prison

On December 4, 2003 five of us, Sylvia Metzler, Lou Ann Merkle, Tom Mullian, Jamie Hanlon and I, Marlene Santoyo declared that we would not pay a fine after being charged with,
"Unreasonable blocking of the entrance of the Philadelphia Federal Court Building".

I needed to and did tell Judge Rappaport and the federal government for which he stood that,"If there was one time in my life that I have ever done what was reasonable, it was doing Civil Disobedience on March 20, 2003, the day the Bush Administration declared war and bombing children, mothers and families of Iraq.

I stood in court and said, "The truth is, Judge Rappaport, it is you, not we who are on trial today. Today, you have the opportunity to stand for what is best in this country. You can suspend the sentence for those of us who are on trial today representing the cause of justice and peace".

Judge Rapport denied his personal responsibility, and sentenced us to prison for seven days.

Friends, I am glad I found the strength to resist paying the fine. On this occasion, I was prepared to pay the consequence of my actions. I am glad to be out of prison but s-o-o distraught for those who are having to endure the demeaning reality, day after day, year after year.. the cold, the withholding of medicine, the food that seems to get worse by the day, the emotional, physical and spiritually reality of a punitive, dehumanizing situation, being in lockdown twenty-three of twenty-four hours daily, except on the weekend when it was twenty-four hour lockdown, those CO's or guards,(not all) who degrade one or another inmate further, the longing to be able to take a walk at will in the crisp fresh air, look up at a bird gliding in the wind, feel the rain on your face and perhaps most of all, support, affection and human warmth.

To you my companions who walked into and seven days later, out of prison with me, thank you. To those who blocked the entrance of the federal building and later paid the $250 fine, I thank you for doing all you did. For those who demonstrated, not risking arrest, for those who wrote and called or sent your prayers or your powerful loving wishes, to those who vigiled or who patiently stood out in the rain to greet us when we came out of the prison doors Wednesday morning, Christmas Eve Day, thank you!

Friends, I don't fully understand how or why, but while in prison I was at peace. I believe I was strengthened by your support. George Fox's words echoed within me, "Walk joyfully upon the earth". I understood, "This was where I needed to be".

I share with you the words given to each of us by Marianne Williamson, and quoted by Nelson Mandela, in his 1994 Inaugural Speech.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God, Your playing small
does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightening about shrinking
so that other people won't feel unsure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God
that is within each of us;
it is in everyone.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from out own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others".

Written by Marlene Santoyo


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