I was not among the Vermonters who were arrested Monday at Peter Welch's office in Burlington. (I was obliged to care for a sick animal later that evening; otherwise I would have stayed.) But I did sign a comment note addressed to our rep in Washington asking him to vote not to continue funding the war and occupation. Michael Colby at Broadsides gives an eye-witness account of the arrest and unwelcoming attitude of staffers -
We got about three and a half minutes to quickly express ourselves to his clearly contemptuous staff member before having their office doors slammed on our faces with the declaration that we would not be allowed to speak with Peter Welch via the phone and that they had work to do. Wham! Slam! Bam!
No wonder the Iraqis are so skeptical of the so-called democracy we’re trying to export to them. Because if it looked anything like the slamming doors we saw yesterday while trying to express ourselves to our elected official, I wouldn’t want anything to do with it either.
And let’s remember that the twenty of us were there to speak with Welch and/or his staff about the issue he calls his “top priority.” Geez, I’d really hate to see the reaction we would have gotten had we come to address a lower priority of his.
But we dutifully stayed until closing time – just like we promised. And then the cops came — just like they promised. And then the negotiations began.
“What can we do to end this without arrests or incident?” asked the Burlington police officer.
We would leave if Peter Welch agreed to meet with us at a time, place and date of his choosing. Quite honestly, we thought it would be over and we’d soon be leaving with a promise to meet with our congressman in the near future – a meeting that became even more relevant as the news came out during our time in his office that Bush was seeking an additional $46 billion for the war.
The police and Welch’s staff huddled in the next room to discuss our offer. Calls were made to Welch’s Washington office to further contemplate the offer. We thought they were simply trying to figure out the proper scheduling.
Silly us. Because the police officer came back with the news that stunned us: “They are rejecting your offer and they would like us to arrest you if you don’t leave now.”
COMMENT Michael gives a link to the WCAX report and video clip on the sit-in - Iraq-war Protestors Target Congressman Welch . . . Again. A majority of Americans are against this war and occupation (Vermonters included) and yet, the CAX headline implies that the twenty or so citizens who assembled in Welch's office are a pain in the neck. Well, we should be - Welch's intransigence is an abomination. More protests, please - become a thorn in the side of Peter Welch. It's noteworthy, that just before the video clip (click on it, you'll see...) there's an ad for City Market, the Burlington area food co-op. I would suggest that most of the patrons of the market consider themselves Progressives or Democrats. They most likely voted for Leahy, Sanders, Kerry and Welch the last election. But they continue to live in their Birkenstock cum latte light bubble and will probably vote to re-elect Vermont's congressional delegation and the Democratic presidential nominee next time they walk into the voting booth. Wake up!!