9 January 2009
Jerry Ebner Goes to Jail for 8 to 9 days for refusing to pay fine from Oct 8th "Die In" charges in Omaha
From Frank Cordaro

Omaha CW Jerry Ebner went to Open Court in the Dougals Co. Court House in Omaha NE on Monday, Jan 5th and told the Judge he would not and could not pay a five hundred dollar find from a "violation of an ordinance with the City of Omaha" that he was found guilty of for participating in a Die In last Oct. 8th. See below for Jerry's explanation. The Open Court Judge accepted his refusal to pay the $500 fine and sentence him to the Douglas Co. Jail for 8 to 9 days instead.

Jerry will still be on probation when he is release that will last until Nov 2009. If Jerry violates his probation he could receive another 30 days in jail. Send letters to:

Gerald Ebner, Inmate # 3058633
Douglas County Jail
710 S. 17th Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68102

From: Omaha Catholic Worker cwomaha@gmail.com
Date: Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 7:43 PM
Subject: Jerry Ebner Goes to Jail

Dear Friends,

As many of you know I participated in some nonviolent witness and civil disobedience on October 8th at the Quest Center at the "2008 Strategic Space and Defense Conference" sponsored by STRATCOM/ OFFUTT AFB and various organizations in the Omaha area. I was charged with violation of an ordinance with the City of Omaha and went to court in Douglas County before Judge Steven Schwartz on November 12, 2008

Google: Strategic Space and Defense 2009 for an update list of speakers and events for the 3rd Annual conference here in October 6-8 , 2009. http://www.stratspace.org/new/index/id/1

Attached are my sentencing statement & analysis as well as some further pics of the event. You may see the slide show of the event by clicking http://www.flickr.com/photos/31114835@N03/sets/72157607863341047/show/

My other 7 friends, some from Catholic Worker Houses in the Midwest, were given fines, community service and jail time in county jail. I am the last of the 8 serving time.

I was sentenced with:
1. $500 fine to be paid by January 7th
2. Probation till Nov 5th, 2009

The judge is very aware of my decision of conscience to NOT pay any fine. I do not want anyone to send money to the OCW on my behalf to be used for paying this fine. All money to the OCW goes toward the running of the house and servicing the poor. No money received for the works of mercy will instead be used to pay my fine.

So I am turning myself in to the OPEN COURT on January 5th Monday in the morning. I will be asking the judge to sit out my time instead of paying any money. It will likely be 8-9 days till about January 13 0r 14th. They usually calculate this at $60 a day.

I am very glad and proud to be a Catholic Worker and to be living among the poorest of the poor while being in jail. I will not be sad.

DO not be sad for me in my absence. Dorothy Day often read the

psalms in prison. I will as well. It is one of many places to consider the Beatitudes again, and again. For me this will be a time of prayer, reading and rest and sharing life together with others, as well as some of our brothers who I have met at our house and on the street as well.

If you want to offer support , please consider sending a letter/ no personal items, no envelopes or stamps, or books. Maybe consider calling Bro. Jason and offering to cook a meal at our house for our 4 guests.

A US Postal money order is accepted with my inmate # 3058633 on the money order. DO NOT SEND Checks, DO Not Send Cash. This money can only be used for the commissary account, from which I can by a few things and stamps and paper to write letters with and maybe a journal book to write reflections.

I will not be able to call any cell phone. Phone calls are allowed, but only a restricted 15 min. limit each call to a land line. You will have a recording and asked to accept or not to accept each call. If you would like for me to call you , please send to me a phone number.

These calls usually are more expensive than the usual calls with added surcharges from Cox Communications.

You can always call: DC Corrections for my inmate number for mail:402- 444-7400 and to see if I am still there.

I will be listed as Gerald Ebner, not Jerry.

Paperback books ONLY; NO HARDBACK BOOKS can be sent. I can only receive these books if they are sent thru a bookstore/ or publisher.

I like any theology book that is current.

I have taken some of my used books to Soul Desires Bookstore and asked them to send it to me after you paying postage. They are very helpful that way. Please ask that an blank invoice be sent with my name: Gerald Ebner and inmate # 3058633 as well.

Soul Desires Bookstore,
1026 Jackson Street,
Omaha, NE 68102
402- 898-7600

(downtown on the market 10th and Jackson Streets) (you will have to use my prison number and name on the face of the package).

Please call Br. Jason at 402-502- 5887 OCW or cell phone # 402-943-6698 or email to: cwomaha@gmail.com for any further questions.

Each of you are already on an email update list group. Br. Jason will be sending out a daily report ( if necessary) to your email address.

Visiting is allowed, but takes quite a long process to get approved, and likely by the time you are approved, I will be out and back home at the OCW. So I am only probably going to get a few visitors anyway.

My address:

Gerald Ebner, Inmate # 3058633
Douglas County Jail
710 S. 17th Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68102

Thanks so much for your support. I have been in jail before, and I look forward to doing this again at this time.

I am thankful to Br. Jason McGuire, OSF, Fr. Chuck Lintz, SSC and Sr.

Clarice Korger, OSB and Maria McIntosh in helping out at the OCW in my absence. Nothing will change at the OCW.

We will continue to have Mass and Potluck gatherings on January 15th Thursday with Fr. Chuck Lintz at 6pm and January 29th Thursday at 6pm (presider is OPEN).

Let us all continue to pray and follow with our actions for a Nonviolent Peace in our world.

Peace to you,

Jerry Ebner, a wandering Franciscan.

Omaha Catholic Worker
Jerry Ebner, Bro. Jason McGuire OSF
1104 N. 24th St. Omaha, Nebraska USA 68102
Email: cwomaha@gmail.com
402- 502- 5887

1104 N. 24th Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68102
Jerry Ebner,
Bro. Jason McGuire OSF,

Dear Judge Steven Schwartz

Date: Nov 12, 2008

I recall the statement that was read at the Qwest Center by us,   the Midwest Catholic Worker and Friends,   on Oct 8, 2008  at the “ Strategic Space and Defense 2008” Conference. This speaks to some of the reasons why I did what I did. This will tell you why I feel that my action was NOT a criminal act, that neither fits a “Guilty” plea or a” Not guilty” plea, nor a plea of “NO Contest”.

Read the Statement:

Show the Judge the banner. Jack Mc Caslin helped me unfurl the banner

In addition:  I am a Christian and a Catholic Worker (www.catholicworker.org).

Catholic Workers around the U.S. live closely with the poor, offer hospitality to homeless people in their homes, provide food to the hungry and resist militarism in all of its manifestations. Our motto is the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount”.   The “Strategic Space and Defense 2008” conference is only one of those manifestations of evil    not mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount”.

I live at the Omaha Catholic Worker (the OCW).   We opened in October of 2006. Our community offer’s  hospitality to 5 homeless men, who often are struggling with drug and alcohol issues, mental health struggles,  lack of meaningful work and abandonment from their biological families.

With the irrational expense of all military weaponry and its Space and Satellite communication systems at OFFUTT AFB, home of STRATCOM, I live respectfully and joyfully with the victims of an upside down economic system that values death machines more than human people. People   loved and created by our Creator God.

We at the OCW celebrate life among God’s precious poor, in dark contrast to the millions of dollars spent on space weaponry, and big conference gala events, big music bands, and key note speakers from a 3 day annual conference here in Omaha.

I only wish you could hear the keynote speakers around our dining room table each and every night at 6 pm.   I invite you to join us for dinner any night at 6pm. Come as you are.  Bring an appetite and an openness to hear the keynote speakers.

As a Catholic Worker, I am a Catholic follower of Jesus of Nazareth. My Allegiance is solely to him.  “Jesus is Lord” , was in the early church a political statement as well as religious statement  sung often among early Christians in contrast to the allegiance paid  to the local magistrates, judges and emperors of the time.  My allegiance goes to only one Lord that is Jesus.  There is nothing about my spirituality that is dualistic and recognizing two authorities. That would be very lukewarm of me.

I pray and struggle to commit myself each day to Jesus, my Lord and his New Way of nonviolent love and life of discipleship. I fail a lot at doing this perfectly.  I do this as my commitment to further his mission to co-create the Reign of God on “earth as it is in heaven”.

I expect to be found Guilty today. I have been found guilty in many other courts as well for similar action.   I have been to county jails, Federal prison, and I am not ashamed or afraid of them.  I have met saints and sinners among the prisoners and prison guards.

I am incorrigible. I am not able to be rehabilitated. I am not able to be punished for my actions. I am not cooperative enough to be considered for probation, and just “try and keep my nose clean, and stay out of trouble”.

I also do not go out of my way to just violate any law I want,   here in Douglas County and Nebraska at my own will.  Generally I am a very lawful person in that respect, and I see the need for most laws in society.  I got plenty of work at home for me to do.

However, I will again enter the Qwest Center in October of 2009 if the same STRATCOM conference will be there. I must. The poor I live with need a voice of prophetic opposition. I choose to be that voice.  Last night at our dinner table, the men thanked me and wished me well in court. I wished them well in their day’s activities as well.   I wish you well, in hearing me.

I will not pay a fine. Any money given to the OCW goes directly to the needs of the poor and nothing more. It does not pay me a salary or wage. We live on the grace of God and good people’s donations and we do this in voluntary poverty as our founders, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin has asked of us (www.catholicworker.org).

I give to you Judge Steven Schwartz,   my respect due to your office.

However, not to be rude to you, if a poor person or any person gave to me one thin dime outside or inside this courtroom to pay a fine, I would have to, in good conscience refuse to accept.

Money given for fines just perpetuates a system of injustice.  I ask for No Probation. I ask only to be found’ NOT GUILTY” of a crime. What I did should not be a crime.

My behavior was very cordial to all people at the Qwest Center and to the police and very respectful. This charge of “Refusal to leave” is often used at the Qwest Center for those people who are loud, rude, intoxicated and belligerent and obnoxious...  I was neither of those and the police officers will attest to just that. Our arrest was all video taped by the Omaha Police Dept. Please ask to see it before you make your judgment.

I do not want to go to jail. I am not a martyr. I do not like jail. I have been in Douglas County Jail before.  However, I will accept it with joy, if you so choose.

If you chose a fine, I will not pay it.  I ask for an alternative jail sentence, or to be let go free. I will not accept community service. (At this sentence the Judge smiled at me with a smirk, I think recalling his bluff offer to Peg Gallagher)  What we were about at the Qwest Center is a community service. I do my community service among the poor at home. I am supposed to be home tonight for dinner at 6 p.m.

When I was arrested for the very same charge October of 2007, Judge Thomas McQuade gave to me an alternative sentence of 2 days in jail as an alternative to a fine and court costs amounting to $175.00.  He told me that I would be able to serve my 2 days in jail within a 90 period of my choosing. I chose some time in December and was released the very next day.  I was thankful.

That is a possible alternative to suggest to you as well.  If you are so inclined.

As long as OFFUTTAFB and the  City of Omaha, Douglas County Sheriff’s office, the  Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Bellevue and Sarpy County sponsor an event like this, at the Qwest Center, I will be returning each and every time. 

The path to a Nonviolent peaceful world here on planet Earth,     STARTS with peaceful nonviolent direct action, carried on by nonviolent people as disrupting as it may feel.

We will carry on, and I will do what my conscience guides me to do.

Thanks so much, Jerry Ebner

updated: on Nov. 13, 2009

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