2009/04/24:WQAD.com: Anti-Blackwater conference in Mt. Carroll - Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Dan Kenney

Anti-Blackwater conference in Mt. Carroll
Pam Cunningham Reporter

April 24, 2009
STOCKTON, Illinois - They've been accused of indiscriminant killing and making up their own security rules to fight the war. Blackwater, now called Xe (pronounced Zee) is well known for its actions thousands of miles away in Iraq.

And now that military contractor is under fire from protestors right here at home.

The Iraq War may seem like a world away from a church basement in Stockton, Illinois where Catholic Workers who normally help the poor are preparing for their weekend conference.

Mary Moody a Dubuque Catholic Worker says, "We see a really close connection between our direct service with the poor and marginalized and the lack of public funding for those services and those people and the exorbitant money that goes towards military spending."

The Catholic Workers chose Stockton for it's Midwest Conference because it's close to Mt. Carroll the location of the Xe company's training center formerly known as Blackwater."

Moody says, "While they've been in Iraq there's been no transparency about the costs both the physical and financial about the war, paying those personnel to be there."

The human cost is questionable like what happened in Nisoor square. And that's what speakers from North Carolina will explain.

Christian Stalberg the founder of Blackwater Watch says accounts defer but, "Basically Blackwater opened fire on lots of civilians and 17 people were killed, I think upwards of 27 were injured."

That bloodshed was the inspiration for a protest at Blackwater headquarters in North Carolina in October 2007.

Beth Brockman was arrested during that protest. "And got out and just reenacted the massacre it also included us kind of splattering red paint on ourselves to represent the blood shed on that day."

These Midwest protestors say they don't know if their demonstration will match.

Brockman says that's what the conference is for before Monday's demonstration. "What's more interesting to me is to think about how our action came to be and how this action has come to be. And I think they'll reflect something very different."

And on Monday the training center in Mt. Carroll will find out.

An Xe company spokes-person told the Quad City Times they support communities having discussions about them and their industry. They just hope those conversations are based on facts.

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