Sharon activist arrested in DC
By Patsy Nicosia
Elliott Adams of Sharon Springs takes his role as a peace activist—and Viet Nam War veteran—seriously:
In a Washington, DC protest held just before Christmas, he was one of more than 130 people arrested while drawing attention to the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.
Mr. Adams was one of a handful of protestors who took it a step further, though, chaining themselves to the steel fence that surrounds the White House.
It took United States Park Police more than a half-hour to grind through the bike lock Mr. Adams had used to secure himself before arresting him and the others.
Some—Mr. Adams among them—went limp and had to be dragged from the scene to waiting busses and then a nearby police station for processing.
They’ll be back in court January 9 to answer charges of failing to obey a order to move away from the fence--when Mr. Adams also expects a trial date to be set.
Unlike the last time he was arrested for protesting in front of the Capitol, this time he expects to be found guilty.
“Every action is different,” Mr. Adams said afterwards, “but what they share is the fact that they draw attention to the huge price we all pay for war—soldiers and civilians—and what little we get out of it.”
Mr. Adams said the December 16 protest was timed to coincide with the Obama administration’s move to start emphasizing a 2012 pullout from Afghanistan at the same time it began playing down the previously-promised start of troop withdrawal next July.
But it’s no accident that the protest was also so close to Christmas and its traditional focus on peace.
“As we get older, we begin to see ‘replays,’” Mr. Adams said. “The reasons for going in [to Iraq and Afghanistan] are the same ones we used in Viet Nam.
We came to realize that was an unwinnable war….Now [US Army General David] Petraeus is saying the same thing about this one. And we make the situation unstable by staying there.”
Mr. Adams characterized the exchange between protestors and US Park Police—even as they worked to cut through the heavy metal lock holding him to the fence—as “courteous.”
“All the police I dealt with were very professional and courteous and we try to be very polite to them,” he said. “They are just doing their job.
“But at the same time, it’s important not to comply with things that are wrong. When I couldn’t comply with the order to leave the fence, they had to drag me. I apologized.”
Mr. Adams, 63, volunteered for the Viet Nam War, where he served as a paratrooper, “because I thought it was right. I have a much better understanding of war now and I’ve lived with the consequences.”
He also served in Korea, and more recently, he’s worked as a volunteer with Iraq vets.
“Our hope in protesting is to help America understand it won’t stop until people say no,” he said.
“When people question my patriotism or say that I’m not supporting the soldiers--they say that in every war. But I’m a soldier. I’ve been there. When you see the wrong, you have to say something. This process will never give way to peace and the emotional and economic cost to us all is staggering.”
Others from the Capital District arrested along with Mr. Adams were John Amidon of Johnstown, Linda LeTendre of Saratoga, and Joe Lombardo of Delmar.
Also protesting—and arrested—were Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers; Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst; and former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges.