At 8:00 this morning, eight anti-war protesters lay sprawled on their backs across the entry into Alliant Techsystems' Federal Cartridge in Anoka, their arms linked arms through PBC pipes reinforced with chicken-wire and black duct tape. A dozen of their cohorts stood nearby holding signs declaring, "Silence is Complicity" and "Fuck This $hit," with a cloth banner ("Stop the War Industry") thrown in for good measure.
Activists from various protest groups came together for the morning's event--dubbed the Project to Stop the War Industry--in order to, as their press release states, "disable local branches of the war industry in order to challenge the wars of aggression that are being fought in our name." As the largest munitions manufacturer in the world, Twin Cities-based Alliant Tech was a likely target.
Ten minutes after the demonstrators set up shop, Coon Rapids city police arrived and promptly arrested David Boehnke, one of the standing activists, for disorderly conduct.
At 8:42 a.m., police issued an order to disperse. An officer hovered over the human barricade and told them, "If you do not disperse, you will be arrested for unlawful assembly and disobedience of a lawful order." The strewn bodies, four men and four women, remained motionless.
"This is your last opportunity to get up." Still no movement. It was time to start cutting.
When scissors and pliers proved futile, the Anoka County Fire Department came in with an electric saw to gnaw through the unyielding material enclosing the demonstrators' arms. One by one, protesters were removed, cuffed, and carried to squad cars. Each was charged with unlawful assembly, trespassing, and disorderly conduct, according to a spokesman within the Anoka County Sheriff's Department. Their bail was set at $900.
Anoka Police Captain Scott Nolan kept things concise on site.
"They caused a scene," he told reporters. "They have a right to freedom of speech, but they interfered with operations here, so we did what we had to do."
Michael Galvin, the Project's representative, said protesters anticipated being arrested.
"Hopefully this will spark something and people will realize they can do something-- that they don't have to be passive," he said. "This is pretty much what we expected, though maybe we didn't expect to be cut out this quickly."
For more on Alliant Tech and other Minnesota-based defense contractors, peep Jeff Guntzel's fine piece this week and/or his reporter's notebook.