Second war protest takes place on courthouse lawn

Friday, November 17, 2006
Twelve people gathered on the south lawn of the Putnam County Courthouse Friday to protest the War in Iraq. They protested silently on the lawn from noon-1 p.m.

Those traveling by the south side of the Putnam County Courthouse Friday witnessed 12 people standing in front of the building with signs -- signs protesting the war in Iraq.

The group of 12 began their silent protest at noon Friday and finished at 1 p.m. While standing on the courthouse lawn, several passers-by honked horns as the 12 stood holding signs pleading with the government to bring U.S. troops home. One woman rolled down her window and spoke loudly in favor of the protesters, agreeing the country must pull troops out of Iraq immediately.

Margo Bode organized the protest. She said it was the second one she has organized this month.

"The purpose is to make clear to our newly-elected government that we still remember we want them to do something about the war," Bode said.

Bode stood next to Jean Walter, a fellow protester. Both, in an ironic twist, protested the Vietnam War together in the 1960's.

"I never thought I'd be doing this again," Walter said. "It's very sad."

Walter stood next to Bode with a sign depicting her nephew and his wife. Walter said both were sergeants in the Marines. She said her nephew Danny was heading back to Iraq in January for his third tour of duty while his wife Joanna is currently stationed in Iraq on her second tour.

"I'd like to see the war end by January," Walter said. "I think (the troops) have been in harms way long enough. We support (the troops), but we want them home."

Bode said she was encouraged the government would soon be hearing from the Iraq Study Group, a collective co-chaired by former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton and former Secretary of State under the George H.W. Bush administration James Baker. However, Bode said she was disappointed the commission would not have its findings concluded until December.

"How many people are going to die before then?" Bode said. "Let's get more ideas on the table."

Bode helped set up a protest nearly two weeks ago, that caught the attention of the Putnam County Commissioners.

At a meeting earlier this month, the commissioners discussed the possibility of creating an ordinance that would regulate when and where demonstrations could be conducted on courthouse property.

At the meeting, County Commissioners Kristina Warren, Gene Beck and Dennis O'Hair were informed by county officials that there was a concern with where the demonstrations were being conducted on the courthouse lawn, specifically the south side of the courthouse lawn, which slopes down to the intersection of Washington and Jackson streets. Specifically, officials were concerned about the possibility of someone slipping and falling down the slope, landing in the path of traffic.

The commissioners surmised there was a safety concern with demonstrations being conducted on that area of the courthouse lawn. County attorney Scott Hoff said he would look into creating an ordinance restricting when and where demonstrations could be conducted on government property regarding the safety of individuals and bring it to a future meeting for the board's consideration.

On Friday, Bode said demonstrations on the courthouse lawn are nothing new. With that in mind, she said future protests could be planned.

"There have been protests and gatherings on this lawn forever," she said. "It seemed unreasonable to us. The law hasn't passed yet, so we're in the clear.

"We'll do it again as long as it's legal, because we have to end this war. We have to find a way."

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