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Anti-war protesters vow more office takeovers

The Hill | March 22, 2007
Alexander Bolton

Peace activists armed with poetry occupied the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Tuesday to protest Democrats' support for a bill funding the Iraq war. They camped out in his office for nearly eight hours, reading verse and reciting the names and biographies of soldiers killed in Iraq, punctuating each by banging on a gong they had brought with them.

The protesters also taped pictures of soldiers onto the walls of Van Hollen's office. They were finally led out of the office at 11:35 p.m. by Capitol Police, said Kevin Zeese, the director of Democracy Rising and one of the organizers of the protest.
Zeese and his fellow activists live in Van Hollen's Southern Maryland district and are angry with him because they say his anti-war rhetoric does not match his support for legislation funding the U.S. military mission in Iraq.

“We want his actions to line up behind his words,” said Stuart Morris, an activist from Mt. Rainier, Md., who added that Van Hollen's staff tried to ignore the protesters but made no attempt to evict them during the height of the protest.

The activists said 16 to 20 protesters occupied Van Hollen's office. The group included Tina Richards, whose son is a Marine reservist required to report for duty on March 24. Richards said she would attempt to occupy more congressional offices on Wednesday.

“Obviously, when you have a group of people in your office sounding a gong and reading off names it's somewhat distracting, but it did not disrupt the workflow,” said Marilyn Campbell, Van Hollen's spokeswoman.

Earlier this week anti-war protesters in Michigan vandalized the district office of Rep. Mike Rogers (R) by splashing red paint on a “Support our Troops” sign and hanging a banner accusing Rogers of having blood on his hands.

Campbell said she was not aware of any vandalism in Van Hollen's office. She said that fewer people showed up than the activists claimed.

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