Thursday, February 23, 2006


Anti-war demonstrators took over a campaign rally for Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl in Madison, Wisconsin yesterday. They demanded Kohl sign a pledge to begin bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq and end funding the war. Kohl declined the invitation. The group which organized the take over, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) "promotes nonviolent opposition to the war, following the disciplines and practices of nonviolent leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr and Mahatma Gandhi..."

The following is from the Badger Herald at the University of Wisconsin.

Protesters interrupt Kohl’s campaign kick-off

Meeting with eager supporters and distressed protesters, U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis, kicked off his reelection campaign at the Orpheum Wednesday evening.

Filled with lavish appetizers, guest orators and a DVD screening, the swanky event was momentarily put on hold as war protesters interrupted the senator’s speech.

While National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance members accused the senator of refusing to support U.S. troops, Kohl supporters stood firmly behind “nobody’s senator but theirs,” slogan.

“Your interests are my interests. They’re not the special interests,” Kohl said. “As you know, I’m lucky enough to not have to give money to special interest groups. I may be the only person in Washington who doesn’t solicit money.”

Although Kohl’s statements were mostly met with strong approval, a number of NCNR members approached the senator and asked him to pledge to stop funding the war.

The pledge called for Kohl to oppose President Bush’s proposed additional appropriation for the Iraq War.

Additionally, the pledge asked the senator to support a bill by U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wis, which asks for a timeframe of troop withdrawal.

While Kohl refused to sign the pledge, he did agree to talk about the Iraq issue.

“I believe the president has misused his authority … and that is the reason why we are where we are today,” he said, adding he believes the Iraqi government should be stabilized before withdrawing forces.

Protesters, however, were not satisfied, repeatedly interrupting Kohl’s speech to ask for a signature.

Although Kohl initially listened to the protesters’ arguments, he eventually asked them to step away and allow him to speak – a request that was only heeded after Kohl supporters pressured protesters with shouts to go home.

According to NCNR member Jackson Tiffany, the senator has not been receptive to the group’s concerns.

“I think it was a very important step, even though it was a somewhat awkward moment,” he said. “Because he has not been responding to our efforts.”

Due to Kohl’s failure to commit to NCNR requests, Tiffany added the group will stage statewide 24-hour sit-ins at Kohl’s offices.

Despite the protests, those in attendance – including Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, State Superintendent Libby Burmaster, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke – remained supportive of the senator.

“Herb Kohl is as much about Wisconsin as Wisconsin is,” Wineke said in an interview. “He’s the guy that has been there for people forever [and] he’ll always be.”

Kohl, in an interview before his speech, expressed his excitement for this year’s U.S. Senate race, and added how happy he is to see political activism on campus.

“I really appreciate the involvement of students in politics,” he said. “I’m always engaged with their comments about current affairs and the things they say that I believe are important and fresh and need to be said. The student activity on campus is a really important part of our society.”

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