2009/04/27:Dubuque Telegraph Herald: 23 people are arrested after crossing over onto Xe property during a protest in Stockton - Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Dan Kenney

'Polite' disobedience
23 people are arrested after crossing over onto Xe property during a protest in Stockton.

Telegraph Herald
By Mary Rae Bragg TH staff writer


Photo by: Dave Kettering, Protesters make their way to the gates of Xe Monday. Members of Clearwater and The Midwest Catholic Workers Communities were among those who protested the government's dependence on security contractors in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Watch video of the protest: Xe Protest, Protesters to Xe, once known as Blackwater, risk being arrested while voicing their objection to the military training facility located near Stockton, Il. Monday.

 

STOCKTON, Ill. -- A protest at an area military contractor's training facility took place as announced Monday morning, as civil as disobedience can get.

Alerted by the protest's organizers that trespassing would take place on Xe corporate grounds outside Stockton, state police were on hand to arrest 23 protesters. Assisted by sheriff's deputies, they sent the trespassers on a bus to the Jo Daviess County Courthouse in Galena.

There, all 23 were processed and released, with notice to appear for their hearings.

Martin Hippie, an Elizabeth resident who coordinated a weekend conference that led up to the arrests, described it as a "polite affair."

"We were totally transparent in our attempt," Hippie said, "and I think (law enforcement) kind of appreciated that."

The protest was designed to draw attention to the private security contractor Xe, formerly called Blackwater, and emergence of the American military's dependence on security contractors in times of war. It came at the end of the weekend conference in Stockton co-hosted by the citizen action group Clearwater and The Midwest Catholic Workers Communities.


Photo by: Dave Kettering, Illinois State Police officers detain protesters who crossed over onto private property of Xe, the military contracting company formerly known as Blackwater located near Stockton, Ill., on Monday. Twenty-three people were arrested.

Monday's action began with a group of more than 50 people gathering outside the Xe company gates to take part in speeches and prayers. After no one from Xe appeared to accept a "Statement of Foreclosure" served by the protesters, those who chose to crawled under the gates and into the waiting arms of Illinois state police.

Protest organizers notified authorities in advance that there would be protesters who would be going onto the company grounds in an act of what Hippie termed "entry-level disobedience."

"It was safe and nonviolent," Hippie said. "The police gave us our say."

It was not the first time protesters congregated at the Xe facility, but it was the first time they violated the law, Hippie said. Although no further protests are planned, Hippie said he believes the protesting groups will want to continue drawing attention to the business' presence in Jo Daviess County.

The TH was unable to reach officials from Xe for comment.