Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Iowans Protest at State Fair

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Iowans Protest at State Fair

Article excerpt

An ad hoc group of peace activists came face to face with Iowa law enforcement officers when they took their protest of the Iowa National Guard's role in Iraq to the Iowa State Fair on Saturday, Aug. 14.

Members of the group, who have a long history of nonviolent anti-war protest in Iowa and beyond, decided to stage a protest after they learned that a Bradley Fighting Vehicle would be part of the Iowa Guard's fair exhibit this year.

"It's a sickening sight to see the kids climbing all over that thing," said Brian Terrell, executive director of the Catholic Peace Ministry.

Terrell is an experienced activist who was arrested and deported by the Israeli government in 1992 for participating in an international peace march opposing Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Nor was the protest of the presence of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle at the fair his first encounter with the vehicle. Terrell served two months of a six-month sentence after a group of 10 activists blocked the display of the Army's then-new Bradley at Davenport, Iowa in 1982. He was a member of a group that took medicine to Iraq in 1998.

"The Bradley Fighting Vehicle even as we speak is spewing untold quantities of depleted uranium around Iraq," said Terrell, "creating an epidemiological disaster that will be with us for decades and decades."

The Bradley's main armament is a 25mm chain gun that can fire depleted uranium penetrator ammunition.

Terrell and eight other activists affiliated with the Catholic Peace Ministry, the Catholic Worker House community, the American Friends Service Committee and other area peace and social justice organizations, leafleted fairgoers with information about the Bradley and the health risks associated with depleted uranium.

One group member carried a sandwich board highlighting the effects of depleted uranium. Renee Espeland said she formatted her board to emphasize the risks U.S. troops face as a result of exposure to depleted uranium.

"Depleted uranium hurts many many people, but it's also really tough on our soldiers," said Espeland, who is a member of the Catholic Worker House community. "They come back after risking all of that, and they are sort of abandoned."

Other demonstrators displayed a large banner demanding, "Bring the Iowa Guard Home. …

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