JAILED ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS RELEASED AFTER “VIRTUAL” COURT
By John LaForge, Nukewatch staff
15 Mar 2007 19:33 GMT
PO Box 649 Luck Wisconsin 54853
SUPERIOR, Wisconsin ― Three anti-war activists were released from Douglas County jail Wed., March 14 after “appearing” in court on trespass charges stemming from a protest at the Superior office of U.S. Representative David Obey, D-Wisc.
four photos attached
John Heid, Michael Miles and Bonnie Urfer, all from the Luck, Wisc.-based Anathoth Community, were jailed overnight after they refused to leave unless Rep. Obey agreed to vote against renewed funding for the U.S. war in Iraq.
In a phone conversation with the office occupiers Tuesday, Mr. Obey said from Washington, DC, “I’m the author of the bill. Of course I’m going to vote for it,” Obey said, referring to the so-called supplemental funding bill which authorizes as much as $124 billion in additional funds for combat and occupation forces currently inflaming Iraq’s U.S.-produced civil war.
On a TV screen in County Court Wed., the three were each shown seated individually in a room of the Douglas County jail. Two uniformed officers sat alongside the prisoners. Simultaneously, the three defendants were able to watch a TV image of the courtroom where Douglas County Circuit Court Judge George Glonek presided.
Asked by the judge how she pleaded to the city charge of petty misdemeanor trespass, Urfer pleaded “no contest.” Without taking time to hear a word from Urfer, Judge Glonek imposed a fine of $185.50 with 120 days to pay. Urfer interrupted the proceedings to declare, “I’m not going to pay the fine.”
Asked for his plea, Miles said, “Put an end to war before war puts an end to us.” Judge Glonek entered a “not guilty” plea. Heid pleaded “not guilty,” and both men were given a March 22, 2007 court date for a pre-trial hearing.
Urfer said after being released that it took her several minutes of staring at the jail house TV to pick out the judge, so poor is the placement of the courtroom camera.
The three were kept all night in their street clothes, but then ordered, oddly, to shower and put on orange jail jumpsuits for “court.” The shower soap was said by Urfer to be insecticide ― used to for killing lice. Urfer said, “An English-language only warning on the toilet room wall warned pregnant or nursing women not to use the material.” Urfer was shocked. She asked, “What about women who aren’t able to read, or Spanish speakers?”
Tuesday’s office occupations were part of an ongoing nation-wide effort to push Congress to bring an end to the U.S. war. “The Occupation Project” is the brainchild of Jeff Leys of the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence. (www.vcnv.org) The campaign has adopted the motto of the American Friends Service Committee: “Not one more death. Not one more dollar.” To date, over 170 activists have been arrested at sit-ins across the country.
At the same time that Rep. Obey was refusing to vote against the war’s funding, occupiers in the office of U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., across the bridge in Duluth, produced a more positive result. One of the Duluth occupiers, Michele Naar-Obed of the Loaves & Fishes Community, said, “Our object was to not leave until we spoke with [Rep. Oberstar] over the phone. He did call. He told us, ‘I will support an immediate pullout of the troops and the shutting down of funds for the war.’ But he did not commit to voting against the supplemental.”
Plans for continued occupations are underway across the country.
All attached photos by John LaForge:
"Heid to squad car," is John Heid.
"Bonnie hand cuffed," is Bonnie Urfer.
"Miles handcuffed" is Michael Miles.
All three were arrested at the Superior, Wisc office of David Obey in the old post office building, 1401 Tower Ave.
Peace activists Cathy and Andy Anderson, of Duluth, are pictured in the offices of Rep. James Oberstar, Tues., March 13.
John LaForge is on the staff of the peace and environmental action group Nukewatch and edits its newsletter, the Nukewatch Quarterly.