Police stop protesters burying coffins

Activists were demonstrating against the war in Iraq.
Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:15 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

Columbia activists and St. Francis House directors Steve and Lana Jacobs staged an Iraq war protest at MU on Monday morning.

Jacobs and his wife went to Crowder Hall where detachments of Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force ROTC programs are housed. There, they attempted to bury black coffins draped in U.S. and Iraqi flags.

“The coffins are symbols of death and mourning,” Steve Jacobs said. “It is better to dig symbolic graves than to make real ones.”

They began digging at 9 a.m. but were stopped and arrested shortly afterward by officers patrolling the area, said MU police Capt. Brian Weimer.

The Jacobs were arrested on suspicion of second-degree property damage. They were released on a summons, Jacobs said in a statement to the media. Their arraignment is scheduled for June 2.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Peace Coalition presented U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof with a petition of 3,550 signatures calling for an end to the war and a full withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The petition was also directed at Senators Bond and Talent and President Bush.

The Jacobs handed out fliers calling on ROTC students to “refuse to obey their commander-in-chief George Bush.” He said it was their intention to speak to members of ROTC.

“ROTC is the place where the killing starts,” Steve Jacobs said.

The lure of college payments for those who join ROTC is part of a government cycle to perpetuate war, Steve Jacobs said.

“That’s the military’s plan — you sell your soul to the devil and they tempt you with the money,” he said. “If we weren’t fighting these wars, we would have all the money we need to send people to school.”

This Columbia couple has made protesting war a personal mission.

“We are morally opposed to the use of violence to solve the world’s problems,” Steve Jacobs said.

Steve Jacobs was arrested in Fort Benning, Ga., while protesting the Western Hemisphere Institute for Social Cooperation, formerly the School of the Americas. Lana Jacobs has also been arrested for her protests, most recently for trespassing in Pinellas Park, Fla., in an attempt to bring water to the late Terri Shiavo.

Steve Jacobs served in the Naval Hospital Corps for 21/2 years before deciding that he was a conscientious objector and leaving the Navy. He said witnessing the pain and suffering caused by war moved him to protest war.

“I knew numerous vets who suffered from their combat experiences,” he said. “Vets are still drinking themselves to death on the streets.”

Capt. Basil Read, the commanding officer for the Naval ROTC program at MU, said the military staff in Crowder Hall was aware that the protest was going on. In response to the Jacobs’ targeting of ROTC students, Read said he’s done his job well.

“I joined the Navy to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “That includes the First Amendment.”

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