Anti-war activity in Ann Arbor escalated last weekend in two separate events; a blockade at the Federal Building and a protest march.
Dissenters against the war in Iraq formed a human barricade in front of the Federal building Friday at noon by locking arms and refusing to leave.
“The Federal Building symbolizes the federal government, and the federal government is engaging in this dangerous action against the citizens of Iraq,” Ypsilanti resident Malcolm Marts said. Marts is a member of the local chapter of Pledge of Resistance, a nationwide anti-war organization that organized the blockade.
The blockade ended when Ann Arbor Police Department officers escorted several protesters to the police station. Sgt. Tom Hickey confirmed that six people were arrested on a disorderly persons charge.
Pledge of Resistance member and Ann Arbor resident Jim Russo was one of the protesters who was arrested. He said the police told them they were trespassing and had to leave. He said all of the protesters were almost immediately released from the station after being told that the court would contact them in the future.
Marts said his group notified AAPD prior to the protest event. He said that getting arrested is an integral part of civil disobedience in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
“It’s trying to make a statement greater than chanting a slogan or carrying a picket sign,” he said. Protesters also painted the sidewalk in front of the building and passed out informational pamphlets.
On Saturday, Pledge of Resistance members and other local anti-war groups as part of the Ann Arbor Coalition Against the War participated in a protest march from the Federal Building to the plaza on 4th Avenue.
Marts said he was impressed by the number of people that participated in the march.
“It seems like the number of people are growing,” said Marts, regarding the number of local residents that are protesting the war.
Marts said Pledge of Resistance members, as well as other groups affiliated with the Ann Arbor Coalition Against the War are currently organizing for the largest civil disobedience action in the history of Ann Arbor. The protest would be held at the Federal Building the day after the war starts.