By Tim Pappa
March 20, 2003
The Post (Athens, Ohio)
[Editor’s note, 2/23/13 — Readers of my site will surely see that I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing The Post. However, I’m also happy to point out when the Ohio University student newspaper is at its best — as was certainly the case in its March 20, 2003 edition. That day, The Post followed a front page headline announcing the U.S. attack on Iraq with four separate stories on different aspects of local anti-war activities, one on protests in Washington, D.C., an article on OU professors’ opinions of the war, a piece on students whose opinions on the war were either supportive or conflicted, an article presenting the positions of Ohio Congressional representatives on the war and more. All things considered, The Post did an excellent job providing relatively in-depth local context to a story of international importance. It is likely that some prior and subsequent editors and writers of the newspaper would not have handled the matter so well. However, in terms of its handling of this issue, The Post’s staff in the spring of 2003 gave an exemplary performance.]
Yesterday afternoon in Athens, the streetlights at the intersection of Court and Union blinked red, yellow and green and made no difference. Hundreds cheered on Ohio University senior Damon Krane every time he pumped his arm; they roared every second the bus holding him in handcuffs grumbled away.
Tuesday night, hours before the rally and sit-in, hours away from Saddam Hussein’s deadline to leave Iraq, Krane sat with friends and next-day protesters, spray-painting scenes of bombs and Bush.
“I’m a little apprehensive about (the rally),” Krane said. “I’ve never been arrested.”
A porch at 285 East State St. – Krane’s residence – was open all day Tuesday with discussion into the early hours of yesterday morning. Protest signs, marked cotton sheets and conversation were scattered around the porch. Rhetoric jumped from regimes to resolutions under one dim bulb.
Steve Kehnel, an OU graduate student, made his stand in the doorway.
“If someone was going to liberate me, I’d want them to ask me what I want,” Kehnel said. “So you’re going to liberate me by bombing me?”
OU sophomore Chauncey Keller wants to know how Bush plans to pay for the war in Iraq. He wants an objective U.S. media. He wants people to know of the hordes that disagree.
“I’m doing my part to be an American,” said Keller. “I’m voicing my opinion. There’s everyone from 6-year-olds to 90-year-olds with oxygen masks out protesting,” he said. “There were even signs for ‘mainstream white guys against war (in Washington, D.C.).”
Krane has been pepper sprayed and clubbed in his past bouts with social protest. Getting arrested is just an “occupational hazard,” he said.
“We might be in Athens and not blocking any military movement,” Krane said. “But blocking Court and Union is still important. This is a fight for how this war will be defined.”
OU senior Lindsay Eyink also said she is fed up with the “biased” U.S. media. She said she is tired of negative stereotypes plaguing anti-war protesters, and of “liars at the helm of Britain, America and elsewhere.
“I don’t think the threat of Saddam has really changed,” Eyink said. “Why is it a concern for Bush? That’s what I’m trying to answer. We’re all going to take a stand of ‘I don’t care what you think.’ So many people want it their way. I don’t think anyone has a concrete answer.”
The Bush administration attacking Iraq in the name of self-defense, because of suspected weapons of mass destruction, is a dangerous precedent, Krane said.
“If that was applied to everyone, the world would be disastrous,” he said.
Krane said this is not about liberating the people of Iraq, because “dead people can’t vote.”
The crowd yesterday was ringed with people who agreed, people who whispered slurs under their breath, and people who posed for pictures between the seated protesters, and then left.
“Part of the goal (of protesting) is to attract people who are in the middle, who are opposed to the war but not comfortable coming out,” Kehnel said Tuesday night. “This is to open that pocket. It’s to say there is a community here in opposition. You’re not alone.”
Above: Ohio university student protesters put the finishing touches on some banners in the backyard of Krane’s former house at 285 East State St. in the early morning hours of March 19, 2003. Photos by Damon Krane
Krane hung his banner from the rooftop of Perk’s Coffee House at the corner of Court and Union streets caddy corner from the entrance to Ohio University’s campus at College Gate. Photos by Lindsay Eyink
Krane and Roger Hill retrieve the banners the afternoon of March 19, 2003, after being released from police custody. Photo by Lindsay Eyink