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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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First-time war protester in 'moral minority'

The Iraqi war ended before Doris Heroff’s battle opposing that combat. Along with eight other women, she took to the street in front of the federal building in Chicago during rush hour March 21—and refused to move when the stoplight changed.

The protesters were sent to jail. It was the first act of civil disobedience and first arrest for Heroff, 57, who is on the social justice team of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod and a member of St. Mark Lutheran Church, Mount Prospect, where her husband, Lloyd, is pastor.

“I decided to protest in a public way because I hoped to be one educating others about the need to use peaceful means to settle anything,” she said. “I don’t believe in pre-emptive wars. And I don’t want our country being the next Rome.”

But Heroff spent more time in jail than in protest. It was 7:30 p.m. before she was released on $100 bail. She also paid bail for two others. E-mails to friends in Minnesota and North Dakota about the ordeal netted $250 in support.

She wasn’t to learn of the charges against her until a May court date. She is among the 500 Chicagoans arrested in war protests who are being represented at no cost by the National Lawyers Guild. At a preliminary meeting, attorneys said the plea would be “not guilty” as the defendants were in lawful protest—but said fines or other penalties were possible. Heroff said her doctor read a Chicago Tribune article about her arrest and pledged $1,000 toward any fine.

“I hope I don’t have to tell him I’ll need it,” said Heroff, who doesn’t regret the protest, adding, “I needed to distance myself morally from the way we’re conducting foreign policy.”

While waiting for her court date, she read Henry David Thoreau’s famous essay Civil Disobedience. Heroff said, “The social justice people have always been just a small minority. But those are the people that keep us moral.”


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