SILVER SPRING,Md. – Five women age 50 and older claiming they wished to enlist in the military were arrested Tuesday outside a recruiting office during an anti-war demonstration.
Saying that “if someone must die in Iraq,let it be the old,” members of Raging Grannies,Code Pink and other peace groups were taken to the Montgomery County Police Department. The county is a Washington suburb.
Lt. Ray Hanson said at the demonstration the women could be charged with trespassing. He said they could pay a fine and be released immediately.
But later in the day,the department decided instead to warn them that if they returned to the office they would be charged with criminal trespass,said spokesman Derek Baliles. They were released without being charged.
About 20 women gathered in front of the Armed Forces Recruitment Center,which was closed. They held “soldiers-back-home-now” posters in their hands and shouted anti-war slogans.
Alison Yorra,Code Pink's Washington coordinator,said they did not pick St. Valentine's Day randomly for their demonstration.
“We don't want to kill each other but love each other,” she said.
Irene Mensalvas,102,of the Sandy Spring Friends House Retirement Community,a “war-opponent,” who had her four children drafted in World War II,participated in the event with other members of the community.
She said she doesn't believe in war. “Negotiations must be conducted before,not after,the war,” she said.
The event also featured Cindy Maguire,58-year old counter-protester from Free Republic,a grassroots group that opposes the war and seeks honest government.
She said she is a “true-supporter” of the troops.
She held several posters,American flags and a heart-shaped Valentine's balloon,which she dropped every time the wind blew stronger. The posters read,“You don't support troops if you don't support the mission” and “Got freedom? Kiss a vet.”
At first she stood on the roadside alone,but then she and three young women from the Youth Leadership Institute moved closer to the anti-war group where reporters and television cameras had gathered.
She said she doesn't support the war,but supports the soldiers who “protect moderate Muslims from fanatic Muslims.”
She said the United States won the war in Iraq and now U.S. forces train Iraqis to “protect them from fanatic Muslims like al-Qaida,” who want to take over the country and “build another Iran.”
The demonstration was organized by Raging Grannies,a nationwide organization that supports peace and justice through humor. They were joined by PeaceAction Montgomery (Md.) and representatives of Code Pink,a women's anti-war and social justice group.
They notified the police in advance,and Hanson said they “wished to be arrested.”
Asked “if that were your grandmother protesting,would you lock her up,too?” Hanson said,yes,if he gave her three opportunities to leave and she refused.