Santa Cruz: 81-year-old woman, one of ten, arrested for occupying recruitment office

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Go Grannies go! From the Santa Cruz Sentinel, last week:

grannie.jpgTen people, including an 81-year-old woman with a walker, were arrested during a peace demonstration Tuesday after the protesters ignored orders from police to clear the entrance to a military recruitment office on 41st Avenue.

The rally began at noon with a group of about 100 people waving banners and signs expressing their opposition to the Iraq war. After an hour of speeches and songs of peace sung by the Raging Grannies of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, some of the protesters walked into the shopping center at 2121 41st Ave., near the corner of Clares Street, and headed to the U.S. Army recruitment office upstairs.

“There’s been enough bloodshed, and we are outraged,” said Phyllis Greenleaf, 64, a member of the Raging Grannies who was later arrested.

The protesters had prepared statements to deliver to the recruiters, demanding that they do their part to end the “senseless” war, and that they stop recruiting the youth of Santa Cruz County.

Two Capitola police officers were on the scene from the start, making sure the event remained peaceful. After the rally moved upstairs and people refused to go back to the street, another five officers were called in to keep watch.

Several members of the Raging Grannies, dressed in aprons and hats decorated with flowers and U.S. flags, were arrested. Also arrested was David Hofvendahl and his teenage son, Trevor, who were led away from inside the office by police. The protesters were cited for trespassing and released, said Sgt. Tom Held.

“Our goal is to keep the peace,” he said.

An Army recruiter blocked protesters from entering the office, and told the crowd that they were impeding their work.

“They protest the very people that protect their right to do this,” said Charles Buckingham, who has served in the Army for eight years and walked outside the recruitment office to watch the sidewalk rally. “It’s all right to do this, and they can thank me”

Three protesters managed to get inside the recruitment office, where two women engaged in a heated debate about the war. The woman conducting business inside the office told the protester that the rally is an insult to those in uniform who serve the country.

The group standing outside was told to leave by the recruiters, the property manager and police, but instead, two of the Raging Grannies started to read aloud the names of soldiers who have died in Iraq. Then they continued to sing their peace songs, with lyrics like, “They’re our children, stop the killin'” and “This war is our country’s shame, we kill for oil and power” One woman shared a bowl of organic strawberries. Another handed out carrots.

After 2 p.m., when the rally permit had expired, a representative for the property manager told the crowd that they had to leave or face being arrested for not honoring the agreement to keep people near the sidewalk and away from the tenants at the shopping center.

“Your time is up on the permit, and you’ve had your say,” said Todd Matthews. “I don’t want to be in Iraq any more than you do”

Police officers moved in at 2:30 p.m., after the protesters were given three warnings that they would be arrested for taking part in an unlawful assembly on private property.

Some of the protesters obeyed the officers and walked back to the sidewalk. Those arrested were escorted by officers to the police cars.

“This is what they wanted,” said Matthews.

Others arrested, all Santa Cruz County residents, were Ruth Hunter, 90; Ellie Foster, 81; Jan Harwood, 75; Stephanie Keenan, 63; Barbara Riverwomon, 69; Judy Geer, 67; and Russell Brutsché, 60. They were taken to the Capitola police station and released.

One Response to “Santa Cruz: 81-year-old woman, one of ten, arrested for occupying recruitment office”

  1. Santa Cruz IMCista Says:

    There is a lot of great audio, photos and statements from the organizers on Santa Cruz Indymedia. Please follow the links from here:

    Peace Advocates Arrested At Capitola Peace Demonstration
    http://indybay.org/newsitems/2007/06/27/18430928.php

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