Students, professors among 67 arrested protesters

Elizabeth Dunbar

Police arrested 67 antiwar protesters Tuesday, including at least 15 University students and two professors.

Demonstrators blocked entrances to the federal courthouse in downtown Minneapolis.

The protest started at 7 a.m. when approximately 200 people gathered to chant antiwar messages and perform civil disobedience.

Minneapolis Inspector Rob Allen said police and federal authorities asked the protesters blocking several courthouse entrances to move. After demonstrators refused to comply, police arrested them.

“It was a small sacrifice that pales in comparison to the human costs of war,” graduate student Sarah Shoemaker said after being released from jail Tuesday afternoon.

Postsecondary student Madeline Leslie said she was one of a couple dozen people who made it into the courthouse lobby to stand in front of the metal detectors, preventing people from entering the building.

“I did it because I feel that our government is not listening to what people are saying,” said Leslie, one of four juveniles taken to the detention center instead of Hennepin County Jail. “It showed how strongly people feel about it.”

Allen said it took 40 officers a few hours to arrest the protesters and clear courthouse entrances. The arrestees were put on empty transit buses and taken to the jail a block away.

“We didn’t meet any physical resistance, but most of them wouldn’t walk so it was easier to bring the buses in,” Allen said, describing the demonstration as “peaceful disobedience.”

The demonstration was the first in which Minneapolis police arrested people, Allen said. One minor injury occurred when a horse stepped on a Macalester College student’s hand.

Twenty-eight people were arrested Monday in St. Paul at a demonstration at Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s office.

Anti-War Committee member Meredith Aby said the group had been planning the protest for four months.

“The goal was to get into the federal building and shut down business as usual,” she said.

A total of 500 people attended five civil disobedience training sessions to learn how the process works, Aby said.

“Civil disobedience expresses a level of militancy and commitment to an issue that going to a demonstration does not,” she said.

Students Against War member Jennie Eisert and College of St. Benedict student Christine Green said they photographed and videotaped the demonstration to ensure police treated protesters well.

“If anything happened, it’s better to get it on tape,” Eisert said.

Green said the group chose the federal courthouse because it was linked with the George W. Bush administration.

“We were targeting our local symbol of the current administration,” she said.

In addition, the group had four legal observers watch the demonstration to help protesters get through the legal process, Aby said.

“In our country, (civil disobedience) has been a big part of change,” Shoemaker said, adding that her experience with international students in her pharmacy program has emphasized the importance of speaking out against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

“They’re thankful that I’m willing to speak out and take action, because they feel they can’t take the same risks,” she said.

Many of the arrestees were still in jail Tuesday evening, but a jail spokesman said most of them would probably be released by Tuesday night unless they had previous criminal records.

A group of approximately 25 people waited outside the Hennepin County Jail for hours with food, soft drinks and blankets, waiting for people to be released.

Hugs and cheers greeted Shoemaker when she came out of Hennepin County public safety building doors. She vowed to continue speaking out against the war in Iraq.

“We can’t let them think (the antiwar movement) is going to slow down,” she said.

Elizabeth Dunbar covers international affairs and welcomes

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