[saymaListserv] Friend Willoughby Goes to Jail
nc_stereoman at charter.net
Thu Oct 21 13:26:34 JEST 2004
Lillian Willoughby was featured in the May 2004 issue of Friends
Journal. If you haven't read this background story, it's worth your
time to acquaint yourself with a steadfast and faithful practitioner of
the Peace Testimony.
On March 20, 2003, she and several other persons were arrested in
Philadelphia for obstructing the entrance to the Federal Courthouse.
The following article was written by Joseph A. Slobodzian and
distributed by Knight Ridder Newspapers.
Bundled in two sweaters and a jacket against the biting wind as she
sat in her wheelchair, 89-year-old Quaker antiwar activist Lillian
Willoughby went to jail.
"I never dreamed I'd get this kind of send-off," said Willoughby, of
Deptford, as she sat this morning in front of the U.S. courthouse in
downtown Philadelphia surrounded by about 50 banner-holding
members of the Brandywine Peace Community.
The gathering was both a peace vigil and show of support for
Willoughby and five other demonstrators as they reported to the
Federal Detention Center to begin seven-day sentences for blocking
the courthouse entrance on March 20, 2003, the day after the Iraq
"It will be worth it if it gets the message out and people start working
for peace," Willoughby said.
Willoughby and the five other demonstrators - Michael Brix, 28;
Marion Brown, 58; and Jason Fultz, 29, all of Philadelphia; and
Cassandra Heino-Haw, 22, and husband Christopher Haw, 23, of
Camden, N.J. - were among 107 arrested March 20, 2003.
The six were among the last to plead guilty to a misdemeanor
charge and elect seven days in jail rather than a $25 fine.
But the presence of Willoughby, just three months shy of her 90th
birthday, and husband George - active members of the peace
movement for more than 60 years - brought an element of star
quality to the event.
It was Willoughby's first arrest as a peace activist, and at times she
seemed almost embarrassed by the attention.
"I have no worries whatsoever," said George Willoughby, who has
been arrested many times in nonviolent demonstrations and was
honored two years ago in India for promoting the precepts of
Mohandas K. Gandhi. "She knows how to take care of herself and
she is doing this for the right reason."
Also present at the vigil's start, in full dress uniform, was Marine
Lance Cpl. Elliot Ruiz, recently returned home to North Philadelphia
from Iraq. Though he chose not to speak publicly, Ruiz quietly
thanked several demonstrators for promoting peace.
The group remained in front of the courthouse, on Market Street
between Sixth and Seventh Streets, for 75 cold minutes handing
leaflets to tourists and passersby and ignoring several truck-drivers
who blew their airhorns in counter-protest, one of whom added an
There were brief speeches by some of the six, including Brown, who
railed at the government for starting the war the day her grandchild
was born, and Brix, who pointed out his pregnant wife.
"I go to jail for my unborn boy because I don't want him, 25 years
from now, to have to do the same thing I'm doing," Brix added.
Then it was time for the brief walk one block north on Seventh to
Arch Street and the Federal Detention Center, where they will spend
the next six days.
Detention Center spokesman Tony Alexander said staff were not
making special accommodations for Willoughby: "We are a
completely handicapped-accessible facility. We're well equipped to
meet her needs."
With some difficulty, Willoughby was wheeled through the front
doors and then transferred to a prison wheelchair. Her five
associates joined her inside to a burst of applause and a chant from
those outside: "We love you, Lillian!"
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