CHICAGO, IL -- April 6 -- On April 5, four anti-war activists were arrested at Senator Richard Durbin's office in Chicago for their opposition to the war. The Senate Appropriations Committee is to consider a spending bill on April 6 to provide nearly $80 billion more to fund the war in Iraq. They sought a pledge from Senator Durbin to vote against the bill.|
The activists delivered a letter to Senator Durbin's office which read, in part: "We urge you to vote against the proposed Supplemental Spending Bill which is pending before the U.S. Senate. We urge you to publicly state your opposition to this bill, both verbally and in writing. Now is the time to end the U.S. war against and occupation of Iraq. Our country has waged economic and military warfare against the people of Iraq for the past 15 years. It is time for this war to end. It is time to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq; to cancel the 'odious debt' incurred by Saddam Hussein; to pay reparations to Iraqis injured by the U.S. war against Iraqi people; and to fully fund the reconstruction of Iraq as Iraqis exercise self-determination and rebuild their country in a manner which benefits the ordinary Iraqi and not the interests of the U.S., the World Bank, the IMF or other international forces."
After an impromptu meeting with the Chicago Director of Senator Durbin's office, in which it was confirmed that Senator Durbin will vote for the supplemental spending bill, the activists began to read the names of US soldiers and Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives in the war. A bell tolled after each reading of the pairing of a US soldier and an Iraqi civilian.
After approximately 20 minutes, the Senator's office staff asked the activists to cease their action. Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness responded that it was necessary to continue to read the names as a form of petitioning the government and in remembrance of the dead. Officers of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) arrived at the office and directed the activists to cease their activity. They continued to read the names of the dead. The bells continued to toll.
The 4 anti-war activists were detained by the FPS on two charges: creating a disturbance and failure to conform with directions. Each charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 30 days in jail. Those arrested are: Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, Chicago; Rosalie Riegle, author and Catholic Worker, Evanston; Katie Dahlseng, Reba House, Evanston; and Jeff Leys, also of Voices in the Wilderness, Chicago.
"In 1964, two Senators had the courage to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that laid the foundation for the Vietnam War," says Jeff Leys. "Had the majority of Senators had the same courage as Senators Gruening and Morse, 58,000 US soldiers and millions of Vietnamese citizens would not have died. Now is the time for Senator Durbin to show the same courage and leadership by voting against additional funds for the war in Iraq. If not now, when?"