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Archive for Friday, March 21, 2003

Protesters arrested for civil disobedience in congressman’s Wichita office

March 21, 2003

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— In an act of civil disobedience, two antiwar protesters were arrested Thursday after refusing to leave Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt's office in Wichita unless he changed his position on the war.

"They were peaceful. Certainly Congressman Tiahrt supports their right to express their opinion, and in fact supports civil disobedience, but there are consequences to civil disobedience," said Chuck Knapp, Tiahrt's spokesman in Wichita.

He said Tiahrt's staff had no problem with the group being in the office praying and singing during regular office hours.

"It is not protesters that gave them the right to protest -- it is the men and women of the armed forces that fought for that right," Knapp said.

Sonja Andreas was among the protesters who came to Tiahrt's office, but left at 5 p.m. and was not arrested. She watched as two of her friends were led out by officers in handcuffs.

"It is really hard to think of going on with life as usual in the face of war now in progress," she said. "For some of us, we have a great awareness of the cost in human lives that is to come."

Andreas said the two arrested were Charles Carney and Donna Engel, both of Wichita. Carney has requested no one bond him out of jail, Andreas said.

"We feel a certain amount of sadness, a certain amount of shame," Andreas said of the war.

About 10 minutes before the arrests, a Wichita peace group sent an e-mailed news release about the pair's plans and their anticipated arrests.

"We may be disobeying a civil law, but we are obeying divine law and the call to peaceful solutions advocated by many religious leaders including Pope John Paul II," Carney said in the release.

The release, sent by the Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, said the group believes that nonviolent civil disobedience is a time-honored method of last resort.

In a separate protest at 5 p.m. in front of city hall, more than 100 antiwar protesters gathered as police watched from a distance.

Among them was Lonnie Myklebust and her 4-year-old son, Nicholas. She said she was concerned about the kind of world she was leaving for him and wanted to teach him social responsibility by taking him to the peace rally.

"It is no longer about helping neighbors who live over the fence, but helping people who live half way around the world," Myklebust said.

She said she has long been a pacifist.

"I do feel conflicted. I definitely support our troops, our men and women abroad, but I also have a lot of concern for collateral damage," Myklebust said.

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