Seven arrested in Iraq war protest

Activists use locks for bicycles to chain themselves to doors

Lawrence Police arrested seven protesters Saturday morning after they spent hours chained by their necks to the doors of a military recruiting office.

Protest organizers said members of the group locked themselves to the doors of the Army-Navy recruiting office, 2223 La., in honor of others who have faced more serious consequences for opposing the war in Iraq.

“A lot of people have gone to prison for protesting the war,” protest organizer Dave Strano said while watching the scene. “We wanted to do something to honor them.”

Police spokesman Sgt. Mark Warren said the six protesters who chained themselves to the doors were arrested for criminal trespassing after police asked them to remove themselves from the recruiting office.

Other charges, including interference with the duties of a law enforcement officer, could be filed later, Warren said.

The protesters used U-shaped bicycle locks to hook themselves by the neck to the front and back doors of the recruitment office about 6:30 a.m. Saturday, protester Sara Caniscioni said.

Caniscioni spent the morning checking on the condition of the protesters, who were exposed to the cold weather, and photographing the scene.

After police had arrived, Caniscioni and others stood away from the scene, holding anti-war signs and talking with police.

At the front of the building, three protesters sat on white buckets so the locks around their necks reached the recruitment office’s door handles. It was a precarious position on snowy sidewalks, Warren said.

“If they slipped, they could have been hurt pretty seriously,” Warren said.

An ambulance sat ready in case of any injuries, along with eight police cars and a van to transport the protesters away from the scene.

As the protesters remained locked to the doors, police repeatedly cleared others from the recruiting office parking lot, threatening arrest if people continued to walk onto what police had deemed a crime scene.

One protester was eventually arrested for repeatedly walking on the parking lot.

On the sidewalk next to the protesters, a group of military recruiters waited to get into the office, where they said they had planned a Christmas party. They said they could not comment beyond that, and recruiters did not return a message left for them later in the day.

About 10 a.m., the protesters eventually told other members of their group that they were ready to be unchained, and Strano and others gave police the key to unlock them.

Patrick Tyrrell, a spokesman for the protest group, said that he had spoken with one of those arrested from the Douglas County Jail Saturday afternoon. The protester told him they had been charged with trespassing and were waiting for bail to be set.

Later in the day, however, jail records indicated that all were released and not yet charged with any crimes.