SILVER SPRING – Five Montgomery County women were arrested Tuesday after they refused to move from the entrance to the Armed Forces Recruiting Center as part of a Valentine’s Day Iraq War protest.
Pat Salomon, 65, of Gaithersburg; Jean Athey, 60, of Olney; Lorig Charkoudian, 33, of Silver Spring; Elayne McClanen, 76, of Sandy Spring, and Ione Dusenberre of Sandy Spring, were handcuffed and driven away without incident by Montgomery County Police.
Montgomery County Police said later the women were cited for trespassing and released.
The women, members of the anti-war group PeaceAction Montgomery, planned to attempt to enlist in the military so, as one said, “they don’t take any more young people to die.” They were among about 30 protesters including members of the peace organizations Code Pink and Raging Grannies. They held signs that said “Love the Soldiers — Hate the War,” “Broken Hearted — No More Deaths,” and “Send a Valentine to Our Troops in Iraq — Bring Them Home.”
The doors to the recruiting center at 8202 Georgia Ave. were locked and no one representing the military met the protesters.
Salomon, a member of the protest organizing committee, said the purpose of their efforts was to gain publicity for the movement. Salomon said she is not opposed to all war like some of the protesters, just wars started for the wrong reasons.
“The American public was fooled,” Salomon said. “(Iraq had) no connection to al-Qaida and no weapons of mass destruction. Every day that we’re there we make more enemies in the Muslim world. They see us as invaders on their land.”
Salomon also said the war was started to control the price of oil, and weapons and logistics companies influenced American members of Congress.
Athey called the war “pointless and just horrible.” After exercising all other options — voting and speaking to elected officials — she said protesting is the only alternative.
“The people of America don’t want this war,” Athey said. “We concluded that as average people, we were going to have to do more.”
The oldest protester, 102-year-old Irene Mensalvas, has been a peace-seeker ever since her three sons and daughter served in World War II.
“I’m against all wars,” Mensalvas said. “We need to negotiate before the war. We always negotiate after the war.”
After nearly an hour, they were met in front of the recruitment office by four Iraq War supporters holding signs that read “Go Army,” “Hooah” and “Thank You.” A shouting match ensued as the most vocal woman among the war supporters, who would only identify herself as “Cindy Truesupporter,” rebutted the peace protesters’ message.
“You embolden the terrorists by not supporting the war,” she yelled.
Eleven Montgomery County police officers, who were advised by the war protesters in advance, were on hand to ensure the protests remained non-violent.
– 30 – CNS-2-14-06