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Published: Friday, 2/23/2007

Peace activists are arrested for trespassing

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Four members of the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition, who were arrested early yesterday after refusing to leave U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur's Toledo office, will be arraigned today in Toledo Municipal Court on misdemeanor trespassing charges.

Laurence Coleman, 65, of 2347 Meadowwood Drive; Jeffrey Klein, 50, of 1832 Bigelow St.; Trudy Bond, 54, of 2212 Innisbrook Rd., and Steven Miller, 59, of 2257 Scottwood Ave., were arrested after coalition members spent nearly 15 hours in the waiting area of Miss Kaptur's office at One Maritime Plaza.

The four were among about 12 coalition members who staged a sit-in Wednesday to send the message that the only way to stop the Iraq war is to cut its funding.

Although Miss Kaptur's staff accommodated the members several hours past normal business hours, building security contacted Toledo police when the building was ready to close.

About nine Toledo police officers responded and arrested the four who chose not to leave voluntarily. They were charged with criminal trespassing, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail.

The four were released on their own recognizance about 3 a.m. yesterday.

"I think we got the message across to [Miss Kaptur] that we're just tired of what's happening," said Mary Anthony, a member of the coalition who chose to leave voluntarily when police arrived. "Somebody needs to be the first one to stand up and say this is enough."

The coalition presented letters Feb. 15 to representatives of Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo) and U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) asking them to sign a pledge to vote against supplemental funding for the war.

Neither elected official had signed the pledge, prompting Wednesday's sit-in at Miss Kaptur's office and plans for a visit to Mr. Voinovich's district office next week.

Miss Kaptur, who is traveling in the Middle East, said by phone she respects every citizen's view on the issue. She said the group she is traveling with is gathering information and having discussions about helping create an Iraq that can manage its own affairs.

"We are here right now in the region to bring the latest information," she said. "I'm doing work on behalf of the citizens, regardless of what their position may be."

In a statement released by her office, Miss Kaptur said she believes residents will realize the hard work going into resolving the situation in Iraq.

"With respect to the views conveyed by the group about the President's supplemental funding request, Congresswoman Kaptur maintains that it is important to resolve the situation in Iraq in a way that transitions our soldiers home just as soon as possible," the statement said.

Mr. Klein, a truck driver, said he was willing to be arrested because he believes in the group's message.

"Cut the funding and end the war," he said. "Not cut it down lower, but cut it off. That will force them to bring the troops home."

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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