89 year old begins prison sentence after peace protest
An 89-year old Quaker has started a prison sentence in the U.S. after protesting against the Iraq war.
Lillian Willoughby, said as she sat in her wheelchair waiting to go to jail, "I never dreamed I'd get this kind of send-off."
She was surrounded by 50 banner-holding members of the Brandywine Peace Community, who were holding a peace vigil and showing their support for Willoughby and five other demonstrators as they reported to the Federal Detention Centre to begin seven-day sentences for blocking the courthouse entrance on March 20, 2003, the day after the Iraq war began.
"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 misdemeanour charge and elect seven days in jail rather than a fine.
Willoughby is just three months shy of her 90th birthday. It was her first arrest as a peace activist. But along with her husband George, has been active in the peace movement for more than 60 years.
"I have no worries whatsoever," said George Willoughby, who has been arrested many times in nonviolent demonstrations and was honoured 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."
Detention Centre 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."