A protest against military recruiting resulted in two arrests after members of Campus Antiwar Movement to End the Occupations and CodePink attempted to storm the Army’s recruitment station inside Dobie Mall on Tuesday. Around 20 protesters brandishing signs and shouting slogans descended on the mall only to find the recruiting station locked and guarded by four APD officers, who ordered protesters to leave the premises immediately or face arrest.
The demonstrators regrouped outside, where they decided a change of tactics was in order. Hoping to trap more flies with sugar, some of them abandoned their signs and entered the mall once again – this time with a little less flourish. Finding the door unlocked, a few entered the offices and began talking to some of the recruiters, who were none-to-happy to find their offices infiltrated by peaceniks. The protesters were once again told to take it outside, and most decided to cheese it before the fuzz showed up. One CAMEO member, Spencer Crowl, stayed behind and continued arguing with recruiters. When the police inevitably returned, they arrested Crowl for criminal trespassing, along with CodePink member Sylvia Benini, who had also returned to the recruiting station. Later that evening, anti-war groups gathered outside the police station to demonstrate in solidarity with the two jailed activists, who were released Tuesday night.
The event was part of a week of anti-war and counter-recruiting events sponsored by CAMEO and dubbed “10 Days of Defiance.” The group was given criminal trespassing warnings in April 2005 after a similar event. After that protest, APD Officer Jonathan Martin warned, “We’ll let them voice their opinion and go home, but they’ll get arrested if they come back.” CAMEO member Tabitha Spencer noted the irony, “The purpose of the war is to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq and we aren’t even free to express ourselves at home.
CAMEO and its allies are planning another protest at a different recruiting station in Austin next week. We’ll let you know how it goes.