This afternoon's Iraq antiwar protest in Vermont was conducted by a respectful, thoughtful group of 20 who visited U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy's Burlington office on the fourth floor at Courthouse Plaza on Main Street.
Unofficially, 10 of them were arrested, handcuffed and removed from the building after Leahy's Vermont chief-of-staff Chuck Ross (in the red tie), let them know the office was closing, folks working there had families to get home to.
Some like Marmette Hayes, 82, getting handcuffed below, were arrested at previous antiwar protests at the offices of Rep. Peter Welch and Sen. Bernie Sanders. A couple were first-timers. They were led downstairs, taken outside and giving trespass citations and released.
After it was all over we had this little back and forth with Mr. Ross:
Q. What was it like today having folks who probably voted for Patrick Leahy in here protesting his vote and committing civil disobedince?
Mr. Ross: “It was a very respectful conversation and nice, fair even-handed give and take. It was helpful to learn where they’re coming from and I think they have a better idea where Sen. Leahy’s coming from."
Q. What’s your understanding of where they’re coming from?
Mr. Ross: “I think they’re very committed to seeing the war stopped and they believe the only way to stop the war is to stop the funding right now.
"There were many other messages exchanged in the conversations, but I think that is clearly one of them."
Q. Congress is “enjoying” a one-week recess. Where’s St. Patrick?
Mr. Ross: “I don’t know the exact location, but he is with Marcelle having a nice time right now.”
Q. “Do we know what country? What continent?”
Mr. Ross: “Caribbean somewhere. I not sure what island, but he’s in the Caribbean somewhere.”