Catholic sister in Dubuque arrested - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Catholic sister in Dubuque arrested

Security forces lead Sr. Klostermann away (Photo Courtesy Mary Ann Koch) Security forces lead Sr. Klostermann away (Photo Courtesy Mary Ann Koch)

A Catholic sister in Dubuque could face federal trespassing charges.

A group with Dubuque's Sisters of St. Francis joined a peaceful protest of about 150 people near Omaha, Neb. Sunday. They were at Offutt Air Force Base, protesting American Militarism.

"We gathered in front of the fence of Offutt Air Force Base, and we had a permit to do that," Sister Marian Klostermann, with Dubuque's Sisters of St. Francis, said in an interview Tuesday.

"We have the right to do this in our country, which is not true in some countries. They have no right to protest," Klostermann said.

The majority of the protest took place just outside the base, on city property.

She said she and two other people knowingly stepped over the property line onto the base. Security forces read them an official warning, that included, "entering without permission is trespassing, a violation of federal law."

Seeing the trio of protestors intended to proceed nonetheless, security forces arrested them.

Klostermann called it an act of civil disobedience.

"It's what got women the right to vote. It's what stopped the war in Vietnam. It's what's going on in Wall Street right now," she said. "People's voices need to be heard, and if the voices aren't heard, then the next thing is to do the civil disobedience to call to attention the fact that we disagree."

Security forces released the three protestors that same day.

A spokesperson from the base said Tuesday the incident report taken by the security forces goes to the base's legal office and then to the federal magistrate, out of military hands. The federal magistrate then decides whether to press charges.

Sister Pat Farrell with the Dubuque Sisters of St. Francis helped organize the trip and said Offutt Air Force Base was the target of the protest because, "It is a very key place in terms of the US military right now."

She said she is opposed to war.

"We do, as a congregation, have a commitment to peacemaking and nonviolence," she said.

Klostermann is no stranger to arrests.

"It wasn't dozens of times," Klostermann said. "Maybe half a dozen."

She said all the arrests have been instances of making a point through civil disobedience, and she said she'd do it again.

"Yes, until we change our policies," she said.

Despite her numerous arrests, Klostermann said she's never spent any time in jail.

Dubuque's Sisters of St. Francis were joined on Sunday by other protestors from across the U.S. Veterans for Peace, local students and other groups joined them as well, Farrell said.

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