24 anti-war protesters are arrested at S. Toledo recruiting office
Monday March 18, 2003
Toledo police arrested two dozen anti-war protesters yesterday morning after they blocked the entrance of military recruiting offices in a South Toledo strip mall.
More than 100 protesters gathered at the mall and chanted opposition to military action against Iraq and some sat on the sidewalk and blocked the doors, triggering a standoff with police.
It ended with the peaceful arrests of 24 people, some of whom had to be carried to police vehicles.
"I felt I had to do something to stop the loss of innocent life of people and our military," said Tom McDonald of Grand Rapids, Ohio, who was arrested. "We just couldn't stand here and do nothing."
The protesters, organized by the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition and led by former Toledo city councilman Mike Ferner, sat in front of the U.S. Army and Navy recruitment offices in the South Reynolds Plaza, 522-540 South Reynolds Rd.
Eleven protesters were arrested for blocking the Army recruitment office entrance and 13 others were arrested for sitting in the driveway of the plaza. The protest began about 10:30 a.m. and ended about 1:30 p.m.
At one point, protester Steve Miller was heard to softly issue this reminder: "The police are not our enemies. They're here to keep the peace."
Right about that time, Lt. John Preston was the first police officer to approach the protesters. Walking up to the group that included Mr. Miller, he said:
"These people here, unless they've got a reason here for blocking the door, are going to have to leave." He listened to Mr. Miller's explanation for blocking the doorway, then shook his head and smiled.
"I don't quite understand this. You're for peace, and then you want a confrontation."
Police gave Mr. Miller just that: They handcuffed him and carried him away. He made no attempt to walk.
First Sgt. Brian Beedee, in charge of northwest Ohio recruiting for the Army, had to be escorted past protesters by Lieutenant Preston shortly before noon.
"We do our thing so they can do their thing, so that's all right," Sergeant Beedee said. "It's when they impede the doorway is when we have problems. You know, I didn't see any of them protesting about killing civilians after 9/11."
Throughout the protest, Lieutenant Preston met with Terry Lodge, an attorney for the coalition, to discuss the situation. At one point, ending a discussion about the impending arrests, the lieutenant smiled and looked at Mr. Lodge.
"This is something I'd rather not do," he said. "At eight o'clock tonight the President's going to say we're going to war."
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