On Tuesday May 2, 2006 at 11:00 am, members of the Christian Defense Coalition and Generation Life were arrested for kneeling in front of the White House to pray for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong in China, and to show solidarity for Dr. Wenyi Wang who faces six months of prison for interrupting Chinese communist leader Hu's speech at the White House.
The three individuals, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney and wife Katie of Seattle, WA, along with Brandi Swindell of Boise, ID, notified the authorities last night of their plan to protest. They arrived in Lafayette Park, protest signs in hand, 15 minutes prior to address their supporters.
"Jesus said, 'When you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me,'" quoted Rev. Mahoney, as a translator relayed his testimony in Chinese to a group of elderly Falun Gong practitioners. "We will go there, and kneel and pray in front of the White House for an end to the organ harvesting - which is beyond words as to how despicable it is. We will ask President Bush to drop all charges [against Dr. Wang], and when we are arrested and go to jail, we are standing in solidarity with our sister Dr. Wenyi Wang, and with all the Falun Gong who are in jail in China," said Mahoney evoking an enthusiastic round of applause.
Ms. Swindell said, "I was saddened to see faith trampled on in China. I was also inspired when I saw Dr. Wenyi Wang on the news... I feel shame that my country would treat her this way."
Before the Christians made their walk to the gate, a plainclothes policeman came up to them and informed them that the Police computer systems were down, and it would take longer to process them once arrested. Then a Falun Gong practitioner and persecution victim, Jane Dai and her 7 year old daughter, Fadu, cried together and handed the Reverend Mr. Mahoney a picture of the family's father, who was tortured to death in China for his belief in Falun Gong.
"Right now in China, peaceful members of Falun Gong are persecuted and their organs harvested. We call upon President Bush to uphold the basic principles that no one should be persecuted, intimidated, or harassed for their religious beliefs."
The Mahoneys and Ms. Swindell turned and made their way to the White House gate, where they kneeled in prayer. Like clockwork, the National Park Police pulled all the tourists away from the gates and cordoned off the area with yellow tape. While the police decided whether or not to transport the protesters in a squad car or a wagon, Rev. Mahoney, still on his knees, called out to the scores of tourists, explaining why he was there. "Right now in China, peaceful members of Falun Gong are persecuted and their organs harvested. We call upon President Bush to uphold the basic principles that no one should be persecuted, intimidated, or harassed for their religious beliefs." The women remained in prayer with signs on their backs showing pictures of Dr.Wenyi Wang, and calls to end organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners.
After their allotted legal time in front of the gate, only about five-minutes, the police gave them one last warning then handcuffed the three. The three shouted in unison, the same words Dr. Wang shouted to the President, "President Bush, stop him from killing!" Katie Mahoney was the last to go, as she had managed to tie her hands to the gate with rope.
As they marched one by one to the paddy-wagon, their supporters let tears fall, and shouted "Thank you" after them in English and Chinese.
The two women were released at roughly 5 pm the same evening, and the Mr. Mahoney forty minutes later. The three immediately joined in a phone conference and spoke with Dr. Wang for the first time. They thanked Dr. Wang for her inspirational actions, and in turn Dr. Wang expressed her deep appreciation for their solidarity and assured them that the Falun Gong practitioners in China are likewise grateful for their personal sacrifices.
Human rights attorney, Dr. Terri Marsh, represents Dr. Wang in a civil capacity, and assisted in the release of the three Christians. "It's unusual for people to stand up for other people, much less get arrested for them. These protesters are very special people," commented Dr. Marsh.
The three are also expected to appear at the "Friends of Wenyi" rally in front of the Washington DC U.S. District Courthouse at 8:30 am on Wednesday May 3.