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Anti-War grannies go to trial

91-year-old says "I would go to jail if I had to just to make the goddamn point!"
 
 
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A gaggle of peace-loving grandmothers are on trial today in New York for disorderly conduct. Yahoo News explains:

The trial opened in New York of 18 grandmothers arrested for disorderly conduct after they sought to enlist in the US Army as a protest against the war in Iraq.

The women, whose ages range from 50 to 91, have all entered not guilty pleas and some said they would ignore any court-imposed penalty if found guilty.

"Coming to this damn court is nothing compared to what is happening to people in Iraq," said Marie Runyon, 91.

[They] were arrested in October during a protest outside a military recruiting station in Times Square. They were charged on two counts of disorderly conduct, for blocking the recruiting station door and refusing to comply with a police order.

These ladies, calling themselves the Granny Peace Brigade, are part of the apparently burgeoning number of activist grandmothers. A 24-year-old organization called Grandmothers for Peace International claims 44 chapters across the globe and has grown substantially since the Iraq War began. The Village Voice described the "granny power" phenomenon this week:

These grandmothers may be filling a void in the anti-war movement. Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of U.S. history at New York University, notes that campuses have yet to become the epicenter of the anti-war scene as they did during the Vietnam War. One reason is obvious. "The draft created an imminent and urgent reason for young people to protest the Vietnam War," Zimmerman says. Most of his students oppose the war, he says, but none of them are in danger of being sent to Iraq or even know people who are there now.

So it looks like the older folks have filled a gap, providing needed zest and passion to the anti-war movement. Says 91-year-old grannie Marie Runyon: "Oh hell! I would go to jail if I had to just to make the goddamn point! You've got to make a statement."

Maria Luisa Tucker is a staff writer at AlterNet and associate editor of the Columbia Journal of American Studies.