Well, I joined the group of 30 that gathered at the Peace & Justice Center yesterday and marched down to 30 Main Street to ask Congressperson Welch NOT to fund the war. Got there about 1 p.m.
Get this: His staffperson, Tricia Coates, said Mr Welch had not made up his mind, but "was working hard to stop the war." We were welcomed to his new offices with plates of choccy chip cookies and pleasant banter from Ms Coates, as she scribbled notes to give to her boss.
We asked to speak by phone to Mr Welch. Were told he was busy on the floor voting on consecutive bills, which could take up to one or two hours to complete. (He was voting for tax breaks for Katrina funding - so I guess that's okay - to ask him to leave and come talk to us NOW would have been like asking him to be against Motherhood and Apple Pie.)
A few of the group sat quietly, respectfully reciting names of the dead and their ages, alternating between Iraqi and American victims.
The repetition of the names became almost a soothing sound of a meditative mantra, but then it hit me that most of the people named were so young, in their early twenties.
Finally at 3:30 the congressperson got on speaker phone to chat with the group.
Several of the protesters pleaded with him not to fund. He had not made up his mind and would not give a reason why he was indecisive.
Welch cried out that he had always been against the war, but he wanted to assure the funds were there for the troops safety.
"You're just talking out of both sides of your mouth," said a UVM student pointedly.
How can someone who was elected by Vermonters as an anti-war candidate...still want to approve $124 billion in an "emergency spending bill" to fund the continuing murder?
The emergency is that the soul of America is at stake!
As several of the protesters pointed out, if Mr Welch votes for the bill, he is complicit in murder.
I would have stayed, but I had to leave at 4:00 p.m. to go to a board of health meeting.
I did get to meet some fine, but frustrated and angry people today. The protesters ranged in age from young students in their early twenties to the white haired ladies in their 70s or 80s who gather at the top of Church Street for the silent vigil every day at 5 p.m. There was a group of Orange County folks who car-pooled up to the protest. Turns out we have mutual friends in the area (I went to high school over in that county and recently owned a house in Vershire.) Got to meet Snarky Boy. He has a few things to say about what happened on March 21, 2007.
Snarky emailed me this evening to say that around 7:00 p.m. 6 people were escorted out of the building and arrested.
Here's the Burlington Free Press story.
In his remarks, however, Welch appeared to be leaning toward supporting the measure, saying it might be the best way for Congress to mandate a quick, orderly troop withdrawal from Iraq.
"What my decision will be based on is my judgment, and I'll have to make this judgment as to whether voting for or against the bill is going to hasten the day when we can end this war," Welch told the group.