Students arrested in anti-war protest

Six students were arrested after paint was splashed on the Army recruiting office.

Police arrested six students Friday afternoon during an anti-war protest.

During the protest, a crowd gathered at the Washington Avenue Army recruiting office to protest the presence of Army recruiters at schools before marching to Coffman Union.

Police arrested three high-school students after crowd members splashed a bucket of red paint on the office. The paint represented the blood shed in Iraq, said protest organizer Ty Moore.

Two of the arrested students were trained marshals of the protest and said they were trying to de-escalate the situation when officers handcuffed them and led them to a police car.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness said police later identified and arrested three more students believed to be involved in the incident. He declined to comment on the arrests as he had yet to see the incident reports.

Janae Marshall and Ella Comeau, both Minneapolis South High School seniors, were the two protest marshals police arrested.

When the crowd reached Coffman Union, Marshall stood in front of the crowd and told them through a bullhorn what happened to her.

“Why were you arrested?” the crowd yelled.

“I don’t fucking know!” Marshall yelled back.

“We have no paint on our hands,” she said later. “Just blood from the handcuffs.”

Moore said he didn’t think anyone should have been arrested for throwing paint.

“The crime of pouring symbolic wet paint pales in comparison to the crime of the massive bloodshed going on in Iraq right now,” he said.

Hestness said it depended on how hard the paint was to clean off whether the action constituted felony-level damage.

“We are very, very comfortable with helping people express freedom of expression and political opinion,” he said. “But when it gets to the point of criminal damage, that doesn’t go along with freedom of speech.”

The protest was the second anti-war protest organized by groups Youth Against War and Racism, Socialist Alternative and the Anti-War Organizing League.

The first was Nov. 2, and Moore said about 2,000 students attended. He estimated 900 went to Friday’s rally, but Hestness put the number closer to 250.

Moore said that based on reports from the high schools, many more students walked out but weren’t dressed for the rain so didn’t come to the rally.

Moore said more high school students than University students were involved because they are more affected by the war, with military recruiters being a daily presence in their schools.

“A whole number of high schools are now effectively no-zone schools for military recruiters; they will now face a wall of opposition who will make recruiting impossible,” Moore said.

Students and Coffman Union workers watched the protest from the levels above, while the protestors chanted, “We want peace. When do we want it? Now.”

Dylan Major, a sophomore at Patrick Henry High School, said he lost his voice from yelling so much. He said they were making a stronger statement that they were still out there despite the rain.

“You can really feel the energy in the crowd,” he said.

Ben Hanrahan, a chemical engineering junior, said he was studying inside Admundson Hall and came outside to see where the noise was coming from. He said he agreed the war should end and he supports the soldiers but that there are better ways for students to effect change.

“They can’t accomplish anything (by marching),” Hanrahan said. “They should write a letter to their senator.”

Moore said he was concerned the arrests would obstruct the primary message of the day.

“The main event of the day is that a political message was put out forcefully and clearly,” Moore said.

­- Emily Banks contributed to this report.