Gaza direct action in UK, Canada and US

IssueFebruary - March 2024
Chris Cole (left) and Virginia Moffatt mark Downing St. Photo: Pat Gaffney
News by PN staff

At the end of December, four radical Christians were arrested protesting against the Gaza War, around Holy Innocents Day (28 December), which marks the massacre of male infants by Herod, according to biblical tradition.

On 28 December itself, two US Catholic Workers were arrested at the Pentagon in Washington DC, the Nuclear Resister reports.

The arrestees were Bill Frankel-Streit (67, from Little Flower Catholic Worker Farm in Virginia) and Kim Williams (from Norfolk Catholic Worker, also in Virginia).

They blocked the main checkpoint gate of the Pentagon while holding a banner: ‘Wounded Knee to GAZA – Stop the Massacre of Innocents!’

In the UK, on 29 December, Chris Cole (60) and Virginia Moffatt (58) were arrested after pouring fake blood in front of the gates to Downing Street in London, and leaving bloody handprints on them.

The married couple held signs: ‘Blood on your hands – Ceasefire now!’ and ‘Stop the slaughter’.

Chris and Virginia were later charged with causing criminal damage of less than £5,000. They are bailed to stay outside London (the M25) and cannot carry paint in public.

A week later, on 6 January, hundreds of ceasefire protesters sat down and blocked Westminster Bridge in Central London. The demonstration was organised by the Free Palestine Coalition, which includes Sisters Uncut, Black Lives Matter and the Palestine Youth Movement.

The Independent reported that police made several arrests in St James’s Park before the march to Westminster, and also stopped the march by Big Ben – where they ‘removed’ the protest leaders. The march then turned into a sit-down protest.

2,400 arrests

In North America, there have been over 2,400 arrests since 11 October in anti-Gaza War protests in Canada and the US, according to the Nuclear Resister. There were 25 in December.

The Nuclear Resister reports that the largest arrest numbers came in: Washington DC on 18 October (around 500 arrests at a protest organised by Jewish peace groups); Oakland, California, on 13 November (450 arrests); Philadelphia on 2 November (350 arrests); New York City on 20 October (139 arrests) and 27 October (over 300 arrests at an event organised by Jewish peace groups); and Chicago on 13 November (106 arrests).