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Occupation of Rep. Marcy Kaptur's Toledo office:

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Feb 22 2007

At 12:10 a.m. this morning, Toledo police arrived at Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s office and told 10 members of the NW Ohio Peace Coalition who had been there nearly 15 hours, that they had to leave the building. 4 members of NWOPC: Jeff Klein, Steve Miller, Larry Coleman, and Trudy Bond replied they were prepared to be arrested and the other 6 of us (we started with 17 earlier) then left. The arresting officer said they were going to be charged with criminal trespass, taken to the jail and booked where they would “likely” be released on o.r. sometime later this morning.

Terry Lodge, attorney for the four, said they were released in the early morning hours per a standing Federal Court order on overcrowded conditions in the Lucas County Jail. He will schedule a pretrial appearance for the activists in the near future.

During our stay in Kaptur’s office as part of the Occupation Project, we talked informally with several of the staff and met for about 30 minutes with Steve Katich, chief of staff. He explained the purpose of Marcy’s trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq which she is currently on, as being primarily to thank the troops, and get a better understanding of the needs of the military as the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, on which she is second most senior to Rep. Murtha, starts to shape the Bush administration’s $93,000,000,000 request into specific legislation.

We made our position clear to him that Marcy should vote the whole request down; that there is sufficient money from previous supplemental spending bills and in the general Dept. of Defense budget to provide for the needs of the troops currently in Iraq and bring them home. We reiterated our position that we wanted Marcy to sign a pledge to that effect or we would not leave the office voluntarily.

He said several times that we and Marcy were on the same side of the issue of the Iraq war, and cited her many statements against the war, her membership in the House “Out of Iraq” caucus, and her vote against the use of force just prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003. He added that Marcy has consistently called for diplomatic means to be used as the way to end the conflict.

We responded that all those points were admirable, but that despite her initial vote against the war and her subsequent statements of concern, she has voted for 6 out of 7 bills to fund the conflict.

Nancy Roffey told Katich that the War Powers Act should be used to end the fighting.

Katich made it clear he really didn’t want to have any of us arrested, and kept the office open with three staff people beyond the usual closing time of 5:30 pm until 11 pm, hoping we would leave before the building management closed the whole facility at 11. Kaptur’s staff was hospitable and supportive throughout our stay.

Throughout the day we took turns reading the name, rank, and home state of each of the 3,184 U.S. troops killed in Iraq, plus several hundred names and ages of the nearly 1,000,000 Iraqis killed in the war.

Mary Anthony, a member of Military Families Speak Out with a son on his second deployment to the Middle East, worked the phone diligently during the day to update local news outlets.

Commenting on Kaptur’s stance and Katich’s characterization that she “is on your side,” Lodge later said, “How can she be on a side when she’s sitting on the fence? She’s so much like junk food: tasty, empty calories signifying nothing and unhealthy to boot.”

A vote is expected on this latest “supplemental” spending request for the war, around March 14.

Check with the Occupation Project for ways you can join people around the nation pressuring their elected officials to cut the money and stop the war.

Mike Ferner - www.mikeferner.org