Sunday, January 25, 2009

Michigan students jailed for protesting U.S. support of Israel:

"We're just asking them to stop supplying weapons to Israel."

Seeking action:

"Three people are taken away by police after 6 p.m. Thursday from the office of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin in Lansing after they were arrested. They staged a sit-in to protest support of Israel and its recent military action in Gaza."

(Rod Sanford/Lansing State Journal)


"Levin office sit-in ends with arrests:

"Three were protesting Detroit senator's support of Israel"

by Scott Davis • •

January 23, 2009 •

"Lansing State Journal" (Lansing, Michigan)

On the Web at:

On the 18th floor of Boji Tower in downtown Lansing, civil disobedience was in the air.

Three college students were arrested Thursday evening in the office of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, during their sit-in protest of his support of Israel despite its recent military action in Gaza.

The students, who arrived in the office about noon, had pledged to stay in the office until they were allowed to discuss the issue by telephone with Levin, who was in Washington, D.C.

They were hoping to convince Levin to oppose all aid to Israel and launch an investigation of alleged war crimes in Gaza.

"We're not asking for the U.S. to supply weapons to Hamas," said Max Kantar, 21, a Ferris State University student from Big Rapids. "We're just asking them to stop supplying weapons to Israel."

Also arrested by Lansing police were Ahlam Mohsen, 21, a Michigan State University student from Coldwater, and Patrick Daly, 19, a Ferris State University student from Bellevue.

Lansing police Lt. Steve Person said all three would be charged with trespassing and lodged in the city lockup overnight. The misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

Levin's staffers had told the students that he was too busy Thursday to speak with them by telephone, but that he would be willing to schedule a call with them on a later day.

"Senator Levin appreciates the right of people to express their views on issues, and welcomes those views when he receives them," Tara Andringa, Levin's spokeswoman, said in a prepared statement. "I spoke to the group on Senator Levin's behalf and listened to the views that they expressed. I told them Senator Levin's schedule was very busy today and that I would relay their concerns to the senator."

Police were called after Boji Tower security staff asked the students to leave when Levin's office was closing for the day at 5:30 p.m., and they refused. The three students had been sitting in a small lobby area of the office. Upon arrival, Person again gave the students a chance to leave without being arrested, and again they refused.

Levin has been a supporter of military aid to Israel. The group staged the protest a day after the last of Israel's troops left the Gaza Strip.

Some human rights organizations have criticized Israel for the military action, which Israel contends was done in response to missile attacks by Hamas.

The two sides disagree on the death toll, particularly the ratio of combatants and civilians. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights is endeavoring to count the casualties of the 23-day war.

--The Associated Press contributed to this report.