- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2003

CHICAGO, March 13 (UPI) — Police arrested a group of anti-war protesters Thursday for blocking escalators and stairs in a 1960's-style sit-in at the world headquarters of Boeing Co., one of the nation's largest defense contractors.

As many as 20 protesters carrying a "No War in Iraq" banner took over the building's lobby about 7:40 a.m. Several shackled themselves together with their arms linked inside painted PVC pipe and prevented access to offices and businesses. Police tried to saw through the plastic pipe but were unable to remove all the demonstrators for nearly two hours.

At least nine were arrested still chained together.

"We've had lots of protests outside the building in recent months," said John Dern, a Boeing spokesman. Dern said three or four protesters were arrested in the lobby last week and that demonstrators likely would face criminal trespass charges.

"We'll certainly work with the Chicago Police Department on any charges and comply with them," he said.

The protest was organized by Voices in the Wilderness, a peace group that opposes U.S. and U.N. sanctions against the Iraqi people and has sent human shields to Iraq.

A spokeswoman said protesters, including members of Illinois Peace Action and Chicago School of the Americas, would continue a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience before the start of military hostilities in the Middle East.

"If the government is going to stage a pre-emptive attack, then we will do pre-emptive demonstrations," said Bitta Mostofi, a spokeswoman for Voice in the Wilderness.

Boeing, which moved his headquarters to Chicago with $63 million in city and state subsidies, makes Apache combat helicopters, guidance systems for the Tomahawk Cruise missile and integrated systems for laser-guided "smart bombs" and nuclear weapons.

Boeing's 2002 sales to the government rose to $25 billion, including space programs, making it the nation's second largest defense contractor after Lockheed-Martin. Boeing said projected 2003 revenue of about $49 billion would not be affected by a short war of two or three months, but future commercial aircraft sales were dependent on an economic turnaround.

The demonstrators said a $1 million subsidy granted by the city to retire the lease of the former tenant of office space now occupied by Boeing was inconsistent with a recent City Council resolution opposing war in Iraq.

At least 141 cities, including San Francisco and New York City, have passed resolutions against the war.

An instructor at Michigan State University is offering extra credit for staying up on the geopolitical situation.

Education doctoral student Melissa Hasbrook said her sophomore students don't have to participate in any rallies — either pro- or antiwar. They have to write a two- or three-page paper about the event.

"She's giving students the option to observe an event," a university spokeswoman told the Lansing State Journal. "All of the learning doesn't occur in the classroom."

In the past, Hasbrook has given extra credit to students attending events honoring late civil right leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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