Students Arrested Protesting Iraq War in Washington, D.C.
Austin teen joins Iraq war protests in Washington.
By Bob Dart / Washington Bureau / Austin American-Statesman / March 19, 2008
WASHINGTON — Nora Hansel, an 18-year-old college student from Austin, is taking her spring break from Wesleyan University in Connecticut to join an anti-war protest today that aims to disrupt the nation’s capital on the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
In an array of planned actions, organizers said, tens of thousands of demonstrators will block traffic and access to buildings as well as march to the Capitol in protests against the role of business, media and the government in the war.
Hansel, who has been in the District of Columbia for about a week in the anti-war campaign, said she probably would have spent spring break at South by Southwest but said that too many college students are ignoring the war. Hansel said she did a research paper comparing this anti-war movement to the often violent campus unrest during the Vietnam War.
There is no military draft now, as there was in the 1960s, so “people are not necessarily threatened” by the far-away fighting, she said. “It allows (students) to be disconnected and under the illusion that the war is not affecting them, when in reality it is affecting all of us.”
United For Peace and Justice, a coalition of organizations, is sponsoring the actions, which will range from trying to shut down the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service — because taxes finance the war — to blocking access to the American Petroleum Institute to demonstrating outside The Washington Post and bureaus of CNN, Fox News and other media outlets and the National Press Club.
“The media perpetuated a lot of the administration’s lies” at the start of the war, said Lisa Fithian, a protest organizer from Austin. Responsibility for the war rests “not just with the White House and Congress but with other key institutions that we’re calling the ‘Pillars of War.’ War profiteers. The military.”
Organizers said they are targeting the Democratic majority in Congress as well as the Republican administration and will also march on the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
The demonstrators plan a “March of the Dead” from Arlington National Cemetery into the areas of the city where tourists gather, including the war memorials.
Grannies for Peace will stage a “knit-in” at the State Department, and there will be a waterboarding demonstration near the White House and a street dance.
Fithian said it is “outrageous, really” that Congress is out of town on a two-week Easter recess and won’t see the demonstrators.
“Soldiers can’t come home” for the holidays, she said.
“We believe Wednesday will be an unprecedented day of action. It is a working day. We will be confronting the people who are in the business of death and destruction in downtown Washington,” Fithian said.
[Nora Hansel is the daughter of Lori Jo Hansel, an Austin attorney and MDS/Austin activist who was also a staff member of Austin’s underground newspaper, The Rag. Nora is carrying on a grand tradition. Thorne Dreyer / The Rag Blog.]