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Published: Thursday, 3/1/2007

3 peace activists arrested at Voinovich's office

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Three members of the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition were arrested yesterday after they refused to leave the lobby of the Ohio Building downtown, where U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) has his Toledo office.

The arrests occurred a week after four other coalition members were charged with criminal trespassing for refusing to leave the Toledo office of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur. The protesters targeted the two legislators because they have not signed a letter agreeing to stop supplemental federal funding for the war in Iraq.

Chester Chambers, 78, 2524 Parkwood Ave.; Marilyn Bernstein, 61, 4640 282nd St.; and Anne Abowd, 64, 3912 Brookside Rd., were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. They were among about a dozen coalition members who staged a brief sit-in in the lobby of the Ohio Building beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The three were removed by police after building management complained the protesters were blocking access to a lobby elevator. They must appear in Toledo Municipal Court March 9.

The coalition presented a letter on Feb. 14 to Mr. Voinovich and Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo) asking the legislators to vote against supplemental funding for the war.

The group promised in the letter to stage protests at the Toledo offices of both legislators if they did not sign agreements to withhold war funding.

Mary Anthony, a member of the group, said that a spokesman for Mr. Voinovich said the senator would not sign the letter. "I said that there is no other way to stop the war but to stop the funding," she said.

Chris Paulitz, Mr. Voinovich's spokesman, said that building security called the Toledo police because the group was blocking the elevators.

He said he spoke to Ms. Anthony, whose son is stationed overseas in the Navy, and told her that Mr. Voinovich is against the surge in troops but "where he differs is on the cutting of funding," he said.

"Morally he could not have her son over there serving and not have the protection he needs when he is in battle," Mr. Paulitz said. "He's against the surge but once they're there, he's not going to take their funding away."

On Feb. 21, four members of the group were arrested on misdemeanor criminal trespassing charges after refusing to leave Miss Kaptur's Toledo office in One Maritime Plaza, located on Water Street adjacent to the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge.

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 spending nearly 15 hours in the waiting area of Miss Kaptur's office.

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

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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