By Chris Steller
A day's wait brought relative quiet for antiwar activists who locked
themselves to a pair of military recruiting office doors in
Minneapolis Friday. Without much reaction from police or recruiters
(at least as of early afternoon), the protesters took advantage of
heavily trafficked Washington Ave. SE to spread their message.
On Thursday similar "lock downs" at several metro area recruiting
stations, including Washington Avenue's, sparked lively standoffs and
in at least one case ended with police cutting protesters free and
But on Friday, members of Students for a Democratic Society and the
Peace and Justice Committee at Macalester College experienced hours
of relative quiet outside the U.S. Army and Navy recruiting stations
near the University of Minnesota campus.
Sporadic conversations with passersby and occasional police drive-bys
punctuated a somewhat sleepy atmosphere on the shady side of a
campus-area street that carries more vehicular and pedestrian traffic
than the average Minneapolis thoroughfare.
The contrast was especially marked with a similar action last year,
when the same groups' lockdown at the same location coincided with a
street protest on the anniversary of the Iraq War, said spokeswoman
Leigh York, who was herself arrested yesterday at another recruitment
office in Brooklyn Center.
York said the two women and three men arrived before the side-by-side
recruiting stations' 8 a.m. opening today and locked themselves to
both doors. U-shaped bike locks bound door handles to protesters'
necks at each office. Connected by chained arms between them were
three more protesters.
York said those locked down and as many as a dozen supporters
(including a medic) in attendance were prepared to stay the day at
least if left undisturbed. Voluntarily unlocking would be a group
decision, she said.
Supporters offered water and hand-fed bites of banana to protesters
as the day wore on.
Passersby stopped to argue or encourage. "Get a fuckin' life," said one.
The protest, which York described as "public civil disobedience and
direct action" was meant to disrupt recruiting for a military
involved in what she called "imperialist and profit-driven wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan."