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Anti-War Group Refuses To Back Down on Signs

By Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 16, 2007

D.C. and Park Service officials are protesting signs, such as this one put up by Eugene Puryear, advertising a march. (By Marvin Joseph — The Washington Post)

An anti-war coalition yesterday defied the D.C. government and the National Park Service by refusing to take down dozens of signs advertising an upcoming march.

The D.C. Department of Public Works accused the ANSWER Coalition of breaking city rules by putting signs on utility boxes and using a glue that the agency said will make the posters difficult to remove. The Park Service said the signs are defacing federal property.

Coalition members said the adhesive won’t create problems and accused the government of a "politically motivated" bid to silence their efforts against the war in Iraq.

The city and Park Service notified the coalition on Monday that it must remove the signs. The city gave ANSWER a 72-hour deadline and warned the group that it faces nearly ,000 in fines — 0 for each of the 65 posters. The Park Service set no deadline but told the group that it would have to pay for the cleanup if it did not comply.

ANSWER, which has sponsored numerous protests in Washington, kept the signs in place on utility boxes, lampposts and other objects across the city, including along the Mall and near the White House.

The signs promote an anti-war march set for Sept. 15, the date that Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is to provide a much-anticipated progress report to President Bush and Congress. Organizers are hoping that tens of thousands of people join the march, which is scheduled to begin at the White House and end at the Capitol.

D.C. officials said they identified other problems with the posters, such as more than three signs put up on one side of a single block, signs that did not state the date they were posted, and signs stuck on utility boxes. In addition, D.C. officials said, no one filed copies of the posters with the mayor’s office as required, along with the name, address and phone number of the creator of the signs.

ANSWER organizers said they use legal, water-soluble paste to hang the signs and provide all sign-hangers with a copy of D.C. regulations. They argue that no one should have to notify the government of his or her political opinions.

"We don’t consider these fines to have any legal basis," said Sarah Sloan, ANSWER’s national staff coordinator. "So there is no need to remove the signs or pay the fines."

The group plans to appeal if fines are imposed and is considering legal action against the city, Sloan said.

The Department of Public Works decided to crack down two weeks ago when employees reported seeing large signs glued in improper places that would take 20 to 30 minutes each to remove, said spokeswoman Vera Jackson. The department often fines individuals or organizations that violate city regulations, she said, adding that this was aimed at keeping the city clean and had nothing to do with politics.

"The District hosts marches and protests all the time," Jackson said. "And the DPW never weighs in on the issues."

ANSWER’S attorney, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice, said such a government crackdown on political posters was unprecedented. If officials truly wanted to make the city clean, she said, they would fine politicians.

"During election season, there are thousands and thousands of posters hanging off every single inch of the city," she said.
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Week of Antiwar Events To Start With a ‘Die-In’
Protesters Advocate Civil Disobedience

By Michelle Boorstein and Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 13, 2007; B03

A week of events meant to crank up a national demonstration against the war in Iraq is set to begin Saturday, with a 1,000-person "die-in" at the U.S. Capitol led by current and former American troops and accompanied by taps and a mock 21-gun salute.

The die-in will be the culmination of a march and rally. Organizers hope the event will spur people in the antiwar movement to move from protesting to performing acts of civil disobedience that "get in the way of the war machine," said Brian Becker, national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition, at a news conference yesterday at the National Press Club.

The group’s permit with the U.S. Park Police is for 10,000 people, a source said, but ANSWER, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, expects tens of thousands, Becker said. More than 1,000 people had signed up on the group’s Web site as of yesterday to lie down at the die-in, he said, which is meant to represent Americans, Iraqis and others who have died in the war. Organizers expect the number to double or triple by Saturday.

Daily antiwar events are planned from Saturday through Friday. War opponents are scheduled to go to Washington area military recruitment centers Monday to try to shut them down. On Wednesday, "Pentagon Outreach Day," Iraq veterans plan to walk through the Pentagon wearing antiwar T-shirts and talking about the conflict.

Across the country, war opponents are being encouraged to visit their congressional representatives’ hometown offices and not leave until someone "gives them an explanation about the war," Becker said.

Protesters are to start gathering about 10 a.m. Saturday along the north side of the White House, in Lafayette Square. The official rally will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. Demonstrators will march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, where the die-in is to take place. Police said there will be rolling street closures along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The route will cross the jurisdictions of the U.S. Park Police, D.C. police and Capitol Police, which said they are beefing up patrols in preparation for arrests.

Two counterprotest groups, the Gathering of Eagles, made up of Vietnam veterans, and the D.C. chapter of the conservative group Free Republic, also have permits. They plan to rally at 9:30 a.m. on the Mall at Seventh Street NW and later line Pennsylvania Avenue NW between Seventh and 10th streets.

At a news conference Monday, Gathering of Eagles spokesman Kristinn Taylor said the group’s purpose is "to not allow this generation of America’s servicemen and women to be betrayed on the battlefield and at home, as happened during and after the Vietnam War."

But at the ANSWER news conference yesterday, Carlos Arredondo, whose son Alex was killed in Iraq in 2004, said, "My passport says ‘We the people,’ and we the people are responsible for stopping this madness." Arredondo held a folded U.S. flag in one hand and his open passport in the other.

Other speakers included antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan and Adam Kokesh, co-chairman of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The antiwar movement "is far from where Bush would like you to think we are, that we are the fringe. They are the fringe. We are the mainstream," said Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation, which encourages Muslim civic participation.

War opponents have carried out acts of civil disobedience since the war began, but Becker said the die-in will be different because it was conceived by and will be led by Iraq war veterans and their families.

February 26
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A bit of my past is torn down. I used to work in the grey building at the top floor. A advertising agency. Back in 1987… I’m getting old!

Over-the-top
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Advertising Agency: BJL, Manchester, UK
Creative Directors: Gary Fawcett, Lisa Nichols
Art Director: Richard Pearson
Copywriter: Harinder Bajwa
Published: September 2007

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