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Thu

03

Jan

2008

Twelve Arrested in Des Moines as Obama Campaign Hinders Press Coverage of Protest
Thursday, 03 January 2008 10:48
by Michael Gillespie

Josh Earnest, Iowa communications director for U.S. Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL), is running scared in the final few days before the Iowa Caucuses. He must be, otherwise he would not have risked the consequences of ejecting half a dozen media workers from Obama’s Iowa campaign headquarters on Wednesday, Jan. 2, and barring entry to several more.

Reporters and photojournalists representing news organizations in Japan, Germany, Great Britain, and the USA were hindered in their efforts to report on a bona fide news event when Earnest insisted they work outside in the sub-freezing single digit cold while inside a group of eight antiwar activists from Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) and the Iowa Occupation Project questioned Obama’s positions on the war in Iraq, military spending, and U.S. Middle East foreign policy.

Though he knew who the protesters represented and why they had come to Obama campaign headquarters (this reporter heard an Obama staffer say, “We knew they were coming and we have a plan to deal with them”), Earnest told one Iowa newspaper, “They basically just sort of came into the front office and were talking loudly and being disruptive.”

In a remarkably short-sighted and unsuccessful bid to minimize news coverage of an event that he perceived to be unflattering to Obama, Earnest did not stop at ejecting reporters and insisting that they conduct their work on the city sidewalk, about 30 feet from the headquarters main entrance. When he decided to have the non-violent peace activists arrested and removed by Des Moines Police Department, Earnest had the officers take the activists out through a side door, away from the gaze of reporters and the cameras of photojournalists.

According to Brian Terrell, executive director of the Catholic Peace Ministry and one of the eight arrested, VCNV has noted a number of areas in which Obama’s positions are troubling.

“Not only has Obama supported sanctions against Iran, he has also stated emphatically that in dealing with Iran, all options including military ones have to be on the table,” said Terrell.

“It’s astonishing, too, that he supports an increase in military spending,” said Terrell.

“This country provoked and waged a war of choice in Iraq,” said Kathy Kelly, a VCNV coordinator and another of those arrested at Obama’s headquarters, “a war against people who meant us no harm. We have a huge responsibility to insert that reality into the discussion whether the politicians are comfortable with it or not.”

When the activists entered Obama headquarters at 323 Locust Street in Des Moines, they informed campaign staffers that VCNV had received no reply to a letter delivered to the campaign headquarters in October asking Obama to pledge to completely withdraw from Iraq within 100 days of assuming office; halt all military actions against Iraq and Iran; fund the rebuilding of Iraq as well as health, education and infrastructure needs in the U.S.; and provide “…the highest quality health care, education and jobs training benefits for veterans of our country’s Armed Services.”

“We’re going to be here until we get that answer, until we get that pledge, until the Senator joins the majority of the American people, the majority of the people of the world, and agrees to get our country out of this immoral war,” said Terrell.

Shortly thereafter, Earnest ejected all reporters and photojournalists from the office and insisted that they wait on the sidewalk.

A few minutes later, Earnest came out of the office to give a statement to a local TV news crew in which he told viewers, “This is when it’s really fun to be involved in politics. This is what democracy is all about. We’re really excited and feeling good.”

Obama campaign officials then summoned police to arrest Vicki Andrews, 63, Grand Rapids, MI; Diane Haugesag, 48, Minneapolis, MN; David Hovde, 37, Evanston, IL; Kathy Kelly, 55, Chicago, IL; Dan Pearson, 26, Chicago, IL; Tom Roddy, 76, Evanston, IL; Brian Terrell, 50, Maloy, IA; and John Tuzcu, 23, Des Moines, IA.

All eight were charged with trespassing and transported to the Polk County Jail to be held overnight for arraignment on Jan. 3, the Iowa activists having declined the opportunity to be released immediately in solidarity with activists from other states who are typically held overnight.

At about the same time, a similar scene was playing out at the Iowa campaign headquarters of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 3590 109th in Urbandale, IA, a Des Moines suburb.

There, four VCNV activists, Ed Bloomer, 63, Des Moines; Chris Gaunt, 51, Grinnell, IA; Janice Sevre-Duszynska, 57, Nicholasville, KY; and Suzanne Sheridan, 31, Chicago, IL were arrested and charged with trespassing by the Urbandale Police Department. The four were also transported to the Polk County Jail for arraignment on Jan. 3.

Mauro Heck, an Iowa City, IA, photographer who provides support services for the Catholic Worker Community, was present during the occupation of Romney’s headquarters. Heck, who arrived at Obama headquarters after all members of the media were ejected, said he was surprised by Earnest’s actions.

“The Romney people were friendlier than at Obama’s actually. They received the demonstrators about as warmly as one could expect,” said Heck.

The occupations are part of a continuing campaign, Seasons of Discontent – A Presidential Occupation Project (SODAPOP), coordinated by VCNV and The Iowa Occupation Project, in cooperation with the Catholic Worker Community of Des Moines and the Catholic Peace Ministry.
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Comments (4)add comment

Robt. Braam said:

0
Witnesses to witlessness
Obama said before the invasion that it was a dumb thing to do. With everything we've found out about the deception in and the execution of this disaster it should be obvious, even to a presidential candidate, that the Iraq war is dumb and dumber.

Yet, the motivation of these activists is not merely to critique the Senator’s consistency. It is to draw to all of our attentions the death and destruction that this military aggression has wrought. It is humiliating to understand the role we are all playing in the denigration of others’ lives. The real loss of intelligence.
 
January 03, 2008
Votes: +0

EnderW said:

0
VCNV is right
We should withdraw the troops from Iraq as soon as it is logistically feasable, and to withdraw them as the logistics come online during the withdrawl process.

I think VCNV's timetable of 100 days is a bit unreaslistic for a safe withdrawl of 160,000 troops and equipment though, even if their heart is in the right place, and that Edwards's proposal of 10 months is more in line with the realities of military logistics and safety.

We need to focus on the country that attacked us (remember Afghanistan?), and maybe send troops into Pakistan to pursue the Taliban, and capture Usama bin-Laden who was Commander in Chief of all Taliban Armed Militias (a title given to him on 28 AUG 2001) for the attack on the United States on 11 SEP 2001.

Instead of fighting a war against the Terrorists (then again, given bin-Laden's title at the time, the term "Terrorist" is debatable, it was an act of State), Bush started a war to recruit Terrorists and to radicalize them against the United States and thus put America into a dire future situation. Bush's illegal war against Iraq has radicalized an entire generation of Jihadists, not to mention created a whole generation of Christian Jihadists here in the USA to whom reason and sanity are an alien concept.
 
January 03, 2008
Votes: +0

kenshin said:

0
obama's camp has done this before
the big rally in SC with oprah, there were peaceful protesters holding up signs for anti-nuclear power plants. you know, cuz obama says they're part of our 'energy mix' (they're also a huge part of our 'nuclear waste mix' too, but i digress...)

they were asked to stand somewhere else. the campaign didn't want them outside the rally.

the campaign later said it was for 'public safety'. hmmm... so let me get this straight....

1. people standing outside holding signs (no sticks) speaking against new nuclear power plants are a 'public safety' matter.

but

2. new nuclear power plants hold no public safety issues.

and

3. the lack of a solution for disposing of nuclear waste also not a public safety issue.

obama's logic is interesting. was he really a civil rights attorney???

or does this have to do with the nearly $200,000 he received in campaign money from excelon corp???
 
January 03, 2008
Votes: +0

EnderW said:

0
Interesting
I didn't know that he was in such support of the fission energy industry, or that he had such massive support from the fission industry. This might explain the rumour about Bill Richardson potentially telling his delegates to back Obama should he be deemed not viable in Iowa. Richardson is in bed with the fission indutry too (and now allowing them to further contaminate New Mexico with radioactive mine waste).

Any forward thinking candidate would by pushing for Fusion based on Helium-3. The whole world is scrambling to get to the moon first to mine the Helium-3 for clean, safe fusion electricity. The last thing we need is a President who will put us at a disadvantage in what will be the greatest technical advance in energy since Uggabugga rubbed two sticks together and made the first fire.

It's time to make America first again! IMHO, Edwards is forward thinking in this area.

Fission is definitely not the answer, even if it is developed.

America puta man on the moon starting with almost nothing, in under ten years. If we put a focus behind clean fusion based on Helium-3 at the same level of national priority, we can make it happen.

Fusion is the only clean alternative that can supply America's needs without forcing our population to scale back on usage.

We will have between 750,000,000 and 1,250,000,000 Americans by 2100. The choice we make now determines their standard of living, as well as who has the leadership position in the global energy market of the future.

Let's make it America!
 
January 03, 2008
Votes: +0

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