Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Sit-in: Staying on Message @ Leahy's Office

20 anti-war protesters gathered yesterday at the sit-in in Senator Patrick Leahy's office. 10 protesters were arrested. The story also got national attention on Common Dreams. (Thanks to RickB at Ten Percent.)

Despite the threat of arrest by State's Attorney T. J. Donavan (by mid-afternoon today, the charges were dropped), 5 members of the Green Party of Burlington remained to be arrested by the Burlington Police Department. (I took the photo on the left of four of the arrested Greens.)

Even the intimidating arrival of Burlington Police 50 minutes before the official closing of Leahy's office did not stop us from talking with Chuck Ross, Leahy's point-person in Burlington (Leahy was on vacation). I don't know why the fuzz thought they needed to bring transport back-up ("You got back up transport?" I heard one of the officers speak into a phone as we were escorted downstairs); we were peaceful and orderly and respectful.

They parked several police cars around the corner in the VFW parking lot.

Our message to Leahy? There remain loopholes in the Senate, House and the newly offered Feingold/Reid bill that will allow US troops to remain in Iraq.

The Burlington Free Press Sam Hemingway story linked above shows the frustration among the 20 protesters about taking a decision to be arrested yesterday. We took a vote about getting arrested. One-half of those gathered decided to remain in the office. The argument by the dissenters was we had had our meeting with Ross, the media would only cover the arrests and not our message, there would be other opportunities to get arrested. It's pure naivete to think that just giving the assembled press our 'message' would result in front page above the fold coverage. Credit to him, Hemingway's story focussed on the arrests, and his story included quotes of the arrestees about the war funding. Will Allen, one of the arrestees (at Sanders' office the previous week and yesterday) said it's an individual decision to be arrested and part of a civil disobedience against the war; we should remain unified in getting out the message about this immoral and illegal occupation. Even the arrests are an important part of that message!

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