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Chabot's office the site of war protest

By James Proffitt

Post contributor

A generally cordial sit-in - in which Iraq war protesters eventually gave their "hosts" a thank-you note for their hospitality - ended Wednesday evening after eight hours with the arrest of seven people at the downtown office of U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot.

Those arrested included two 15-year-old students from Clark Montessori in Hyde Park and a 78-year-old nun, Mary Evelyn Jegen, who said she considered her willingness to go to jail to drive home the need for getting out of Iraq "an act of patriotism."

The protesters, members of a group called the Greater Cincinnati Declaration of Peace, gathered on the sidewalk on Vine Street in front of the Carew Tower about 1 p.m. and passed out fliers and held up signs bemoaning U.S. involvement in Iraq. About 2 p.m., about 20 of them went to Chabot's office on the 30th floor, demanding that he meet with them or that he sign a "Declaration of Peace."

That document demanded an immediate and concrete plan to end U.S involvement in Iraq and reparations for damage the war has done to the country.

Protesters spent the next six hours in a sit-in with ceremonial readings of Americans and Iraqis killed in the war, protest songs and political conversation.

Beth Bryan, the congressman's scheduler, did arrange an Oct. 16th meeting for the group with Chabot. But she said he was tied up in a House session and he could not deal with the declaration Wednesday.

Protesters ignored requests from Chabot's office staff that they leave, so police were called.

After another request to leave, building security and police arrived and ordered protesters to leave. About 8 p.m., three hours after the office was supposed to have closed, some 50 police officers moved in and arrested the visitors still in the office. They did not resist.

Chabot's chief of staff, Gary Lindgren, said, "This is the first time in my 12 years in this office I can remember a sit-in protest like this."

During a conversation with Ellen Dienger, the group's spokesperson, Lindgren assured her that Chabot wants troops out of Iraq as soon as possible too, but not before Iraqi forces are properly trained for success.

Adults arrested were charged with criminal trespassing and released from the Justice Center later. The two teens were transported to Juvenile Detention and released to their parents.
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