Washington, DC – More than 50 people were arrested this morning outside the Capitol Building in Washington, DC in an act of non-violent civil disobedience calling for peace and protesting a full scale war in Iraq. The demonstrators, many of whom had never been arrested before, sang ‘God Bless America?’ ‘We Shall Overcome?’ and songs of peace as they crossed a police line on the West Side lawn of the Capitol steps.
Among those arrested was Father Paul Mayer, and three members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, including 71 year-old Rita Lasar of New York City, whose brother’s heroic story at the World Trade Center became famous when President Bush mentioned it during his National Cathedral speech.
“We are taking action today to honor our beloved family members by trying to insure that no other families will ever have to feel the pain that we felt on Sept 11,” said Lasar. “We and other citizens across the US must do all we can to stop this war, the time is now, and we want citizens of the world to know that there is a strong US peace movement stepping up actions for peace.”
Organizers from national peace coalitions – United for Peace and Justice (www.unitedforpeace.org) and the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (www.nyspc.net) – joined forces with the Iraq Pledge of Resistance in issuing a national call for non-violent direct action beginning in hopes of averting a full scale war in Iraq. Dozens of activists were also arrested in San Francisco today, some in body bags outside the British Consulate, and religious leaders were joined by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire in an action in New York at the US Mission to the United Nations.
Peace activists have issued a call for an emergency debate in Congress on the war tomorrow.
“The weapons inspectors and the UN Security Council has been dealing with this issue for months, and yet Congress has failed to do its constitutional duty and take on this issue, even with all the political developments since the October debates,” said Ted Glick from United for Peace and Justice. “It is time for the US Congress to show they still have relevance to this overriding issue of war and peace in the world. We call on our elected leaders to call an emergency debate tomorrow.”