For Immediate Release: February 5th, 2007
Contact:  Rae Abileah, CODEPINK (415) 994-1723
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK (202) 422-8555

10 Activists Arrested by Senator McCain's Office

Activists Demanding that McCain Stop Funding War in Iraq during Occupation Project Kick Off

Click here to see photos of this action! 

Washington, DC: 10 activists were arrested on orders from Senator John McCain's office today after members of the peace groups CODEPINK, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and Veterans for Peace tried to meet with the senator's legislative aide to discuss defunding the war. Activists sang the names of the 75 US servicemen and women from Arizona who have been killed in the war in Iraq, interspersed with the names of Iraqi civilians killed, and collectively chanted "We remember you," after each name and dropped a flower petal on the ground. They delivered framed photos of Iraqi civilians and US soldiers from Arizona who have been killed in Iraq and carried banners reading "Stop Funding War!" and "Americans Want a Prez for Peace". Those arrested include: Kathy Kelly, 54 (Executive Director of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, just returned from two months living and working with Iraqi refugees in Amman, Jordan); Ellen Barfield, 50 (Board Member of Veterans for Peace); Father Jerry Zawada, 69; and peace activists aged between 21-74 years old.

After waiting for a legislative aide to meet with the group to no avail, Jeff Leys of Voices for Creative Nonviolence read a letter in McCain's office with four demands: a public declaration that the Senator will vote against any further funding for the war in Iraq, introduce legislation to give returning soldiers full healthcare benefits, introduce a Senate Resolution that would serve as a companion bill to HR Resolution 508, and introduce legislation for the appropriation of U.S. funds for reconstruction in Iraq to neutral humanitarian relief organizations that are not connected to the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

Peace activists are outraged that Senator McCain is calling for a troop increase instead of an end to the occupation. The occupation of his office was designed to send him a strong message that as a presidential candidate, he won't have support from the majority of Americans if he continues to support the war.

The action at Sen. McCain's office today commenced the launch of the Occupation Project, an eight week long campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to end funding for the Iraq war. Concerned citizens all over the country will begin occupying their representatives' offices, pressuring them to end funding for the Iraq war. Activists in Arizona are launching this campaign at all three of Senator McCain's offices—in Phoenix, Tucson, and Tempe. Activists in ten other US cities also began occupations of Congressional offices.

Gael Murphy of CODEPINK stated, "We are starting this campaign of 'extralegal lobbying'--nonviolent civil disobedience--at the offices of our Representatives and Senators who refuse to publicly pledge their vote against Bush's request for an additional $100 billion for the war in Iraq.." "The U.S. war in Iraq has created a humanitarian catastrophe, with Iraqis forced to flee for safety to Jordan--only to be rejected and forgotten by the international community. We owe an obligation to Iraqis: to stop funding the war and to fully fund war reparations to Iraq so they might be able to rebuild their country after these past16 years of economic and military warfare," said Kathy Kelly, Co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and recently returned from Iraq.

The Occupation Project is being organized by Voices for Creative Non-violence, CODEPINK, United for Peace & Justice, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Peace Action affiliates, Gold Star Families for Peace and many local peace and justice groups. Local campaigns are being organized in 20+ states: New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Maine, Oregon, Alabama, Arizona, California, Washington and Alaska.