Five activists from the peace-advocacy group Heeding God's Call were arrested for standing - literally - on their principles after refusing to leave a North Philadelphia gun shop yesterday.
The group, a collective effort of interfaith clergy and activists, staged the almost hourlong demonstration inside Colosimo's Gun Center, on Spring Garden Street near Percy, demanding that the owner, James Colosimo, adopt a firearms code of conduct.
Similar efforts have been made by the group in an effort to quell gun violence in the city.
"I have a personal conviction against the violence in the city of Philadelphia," said a manacled Phil Jones, director of Brethren Witness, a Washington-based group associated with the Church of the Brethren, as a police officer escorted him into a police van .
"I saw the expressions on their faces," said store employee Jerome James. "The minute they came in, I knew."
Supporters outside the store's entrance applauded and thanked protesters as police carted them off, one by one, in handcuffs.
"You couldn't talk them out of getting locked up," said Lt. Joseph O'Brien, of the Civil Affairs Unit. "Usually you could talk them out of it."
Others weren't so impressed.
"It's trespassing," said Capt. William Fisher. "I gave them three warnings to protest on the sidewalk.
"They feel they have an issue and they feel this is how they can get the most attention," he said.
The demonstrators spent the night in jail and are facing charges of defiant trespassing.
The group has met with Colosimo, who agreed to nine out of the 10 points in the memorandum.
"They wanted me to sign something the FOP is against," said Colosimo.
"This is more or less blackmail."
Points included in the agreement specify that gun shop owners videotape all sale transactions, administer employee background checks and secure firearms in locked areas.
The memorandum is identical to that between Walmart and the Mayor's Against Illegal Guns Coalition.
Colosimo said he refuses to comply with a demand to use a computerized system that could flag return customers if a gun that they purchased at the store were used in a crime.
"They're asking me to be judge and jury," he said.
This effort is a part of a week-long peace conference.
To culminate the effort, a prayer service will be held in several houses of worship tomorrow, beginning at 9 a.m.
At 1:30 p.m., an interfaith service will take place at Broad and Poplar streets after which the group will march to Colosimo's for a rally.