A group of anti-war grandmothers were arrested Tuesday evening in the Central Oregon offices of Rep. Greg Walden after refusing to leave until the Congressman responded to their questions about funding for the war.
The six women, representing communities in Jefferson, Deschutes, and Crook counties, gathered in Walden’s office Tuesday to deliver petitions , testimonials and other stories from a locally arranged Town Hall Meeting on the Cost of War. The town hall meetings were put on in four of Oregon’s five Congressional districts and were attended by more than 700 rural Oregonians. Neither Walden nor his staff attend the public meetings, despite being on notice for several months.
Occupying a conference room in Walden’s office on Hawthorne Avenue, the mothers and grandmothers held hands, sang John Lennon’s tune and red the names of Iraqis and Americans killed in Iraq, marking each name with the ringing of a small bell. “All we are saying, is give peace a chance”
Frances Davis of Crooked River Ranch were among the women urging Walden to vote against further war funding. “Our grandson is on his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq.”
“We set up an appointment to speak with Walden (from) Washington and present information about the war,” said Francis “Betsy” Lamb. Also arrested were Margaret Brookover, Ann Havill, Peggy Miller and Kathleen Paterno
They were supported by the statewide Rural Organizing Project in Oregon and Code Pink. According to a press release from the Rural Organizing Project, “With the vote in the House expected as early as tomorrow and no indication that the concerns of the 2nd District have been heard by Congressman Walden, the women decided to do what they can to make sure that Walden knows his district is calling on him to vote no on more money for the war. “
“The decision to refuse to leave the office was made after months of frustrating communications with Walden’s office, beginning with Walden not attending or sending an aide to the 2nd District Town Hall on the Cost of War. Today’s action was planned when the women who were delivering testimony and the People’s Resolution from the Town Hall to Walden’s office in Bend were unable to schedule a phone conference with Walden after three weeks of attempting to follow the channels established by the office. “
In after-hour negotiations with Walden’s Central Oregon Assistant, Judy Trego, the group was offered a morning conference call if protesters agreed to leave the offices. “We have arranged a conference call with the congressman tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, 15 minutes with just you and him, but if we could wrap this up tonight,” Trego said. Protesters rejected this offer, deciding to wait.
As the evening progressed, protesters were denied access to bathrooms, even forced to urinate in a bottle. After a failed attempt to wait the protesters out, Around 9:45 p.m. the women were led out, their hands cuffed behind their backs. The women were taken to the Deschutes County Jail, booked on second-degree criminal trespass charges (a misdemeanor) and released around 11:45 p.m., according to jail officials.
According to Walden’s press release
“At approximately 7:30 pm, one of the protesters asked if she left to use the restroom down the hall would she be allowed to return to the sit-in. Judy informed her that she could use the restroom, but if she left the sit-in she would not be allowed to return. The protester expressed understanding, but disappointment, and resumed her sit-in.
“At approximately 8 pm, one of the protesters left to use the restroom, and was not allowed back into the office and apparently departed the office building. At approximately 9 pm, the protesters closed the door to Congressman Walden’s personal office. When Judy informed the remaining five protesters that the door had to remain open, one of the protesters told Judy that if that were the case then she was ‘going to see the woman’s bare butt,’ and the implication was that the woman was urinating.
“The Bend City Police were called and the protesters were removed, along with the bottle the protester allegedly urinated in, from the office at approximately 10 pm.”
Walden’s office is located at 131 NW Hawthorne Ave # 201 in Bend. You can call Walden’s office in DC at: 202-225-6730.