WASHINGTON — Air conditioning, pizza with pepperoni, turkey and cheese with lettuce and tomato on rye. Stimulating and fun conversation in the company of peace-loving antiwar activists for democracy and social justice. And last but not least, the singing of inspirational songs about peace, unions and civil rights.

With the exception of being handcuffed for several hours, does this sound like being in jail?

But there we were: over 350 of us getting arrested outside the White House on Sept. 26, protesting the war and occupation of Iraq, as part of a weekend of actions sponsored by United for Peace and Justice and others. I was part of the Communist Party USA contingent in the sit-in.

We came from all parts of the United States: from Alaska to Florida, from Vermont to California, and from just about everywhere in between. We were all ages, all nationalities, men and women. We were honored to have a dozen vets with us. One 81-year-old gentlemen from Colorado wore his Purple Heart from the World War II Battle of Manila against the Japanese occupation.

What an honor to be arrested with these courageous men and women!

By the way, I should mention that our jail, until we were booked, was a clean, Washington metro transit bus. It must also be said our 12 hours of detention time were made more bearable due to the civil conduct of the D.C. police.

The primary police officer on our bus was genuinely courteous and concerned. In fact, several of the officers assigned to our bus made inquiries about our medical needs. Our handcuffs, initially at our backs, were removed. We were then re-cuffed with our hands in front of us, which was more comfortable. The police made sure we had an ample supply of water, and occasionally joined in our conversations. Although it wasn’t expressed openly, I felt some held our views on the question of war and peace.

Prior to my arrest, as I sat waiting on the pavement, I couldn’t help but feel the solidarity of the hundreds of supporters who stood on the other side of the police fence, cheering each and every one of us on for taking a stand against this unjust war of occupation. It made my small sacrifice worth any inconvenience I might have endured.

We were all grateful that everything went as we had hoped. There were no harsh words and no violence. I attribute this to our training in nonviolent, civil disobedience tactics the day before.

If this action helps to move our government one month or one day closer to ending this occupation, then we accomplished what we needed to do.

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