DeeAnn Major, a mother of a teenage son, made a plea Friday to stop the war in Iraq.
Army recruiters said the center was closed because soldiers and their leaders were conducting physical training for much of the day and not because of the protesters, who put up a bright orange sign that said: “Recruitment center closed due to protest.”
“How many of our children and Iraqi children must die before this illegal and immoral war is ended and our troops brought home?” said Major, 39, of Denver.
“I urge all of you to take action, on this day and every day, to end this unjust war. I do not want my son to die for this administration’s lies and mistakes, nor do I want any mother’s child to suffer such an injustice.”
Major, among 50 protesters, was one of a dozen arrested Friday for blocking the entrance to the Armed Forces Recruitment Center, 215 S. Sheridan Blvd., and cited for obstruction of passageway and trespass.
It was one of two demonstrations in Colorado that was part of National Stand Down Day to protest the war in Iraq.
The other was held in Colorado Springs, where 22 people attended and three were arrested.
Drew Edmondson, 55, of Denver, who was arrested at the Lakewood protest, is a former soldier.
“As a disabled vet, I ask all those choosing the military, which is an honorable and important occupation, to postpone your decision for one year,” he said. “Great changes based on truth will take place this year.
“Unlike Vietnam, you will be required to serve multiple tours in war zones.”
Although protesters claimed credit for closing the Lakewood recruitment center Friday morning – they put up a bright orange sign that read: “Recruitment center closed due to protest” – Army recruiters said the locked doors in the morning were not due to the demonstrators.
“All of the soldiers with their leaders were conducting physical training,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Brodeur, commander of the Army recruiting battalion in Denver. “They were in training for the first three-quarters of the day.”
At one point during the protest, a male soldier dressed in woodland camouflage pulled up to the center and was almost immediately surrounded by demonstrators who tried to stop him from going inside.
But three Lakewood police officers, who were stationed inside the center, opened the door and pushed back the demonstrators so he could pass through.
Brodeur said the operations of the recruiting center weren’t disrupted by the demonstrators.
“All of us in uniform fought, and many died, so that they can exercise their right to free speech,” he said.
As police were about to start arresting the dozen protesters who had stationed themselves in front of the Lakewood center’s door, a car pulled up.
Narie Kim, 21, of Englewood, got out and approached the building.
Police officers asked what she was doing and she said she was trying to talk to a recruiter. She was told that police were about to make some arrests, and she was asked to wait outside until they were done.
“I think it (the protest) is unfounded,” said Kim, as she watched the protesters being led away by police to waiting vans. “When you’re not in the military, you really don’t know what’s going on.”
She had undergone six months of training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., but had to take a medical leave three months ago.
Now, she wants to sign up with the Army, even though she realizes she may be sent to a war zone.
“I don’t support war,” she said. “But if we are not going over there, then there’s no one else, and we may prevent another 9/11 from happening.” The E.W. Scripps Co.