Anti-War Veterans Barred from Long Beach Veterans Day Parade
18 Veterans Arrested for Protesting War at Boston Parade
By Jon Ponder on 11/13/2007, 10:12am PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

Just when you think you have inured yourself to Bush-era outrage fatigue comes news that U.S. veterans were denied their free-speech rights to protest the U.S. occupation of Iraq on Veterans Day.

First, the organizers of the 11th Veterans Day Parade in Long Beach, CA, prohibited anti-war veterans groups from participating in the event on Saturday:

A participation application filed by Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out was turned down because organizers want Saturday's parade free from politics.

"They do not fit the spirit of the parade, the spirit being one of gratitude for what the veterans have done," said Martha Thuente, coordinator for the nonprofit Veterans Day Parade Committee.

"We do not want groups of a political nature, advocating the troops' withdrawal from Iraq," she added.

And in Boston on Sunday, 18 veterans were arrested after they peacefully protested the war at the Veterans Day parade:

Members of Veterans for Peace lined up in front of a podium at City Hall Plaza holding antiwar placards, as color guards from Massachusetts military units and JROTC bands from across the state filed into Government Center for a ceremony, sponsored by the American Legion, to honor veterans after the parade. Some protesters wore gags, which they later said symbolized the fact that, while they were permitted to march in the parade, they were prevented from carrying signs opposing the war in Iraq.

"We were exercising our First Amendment rights," said Winston Warfield of Dorchester, a member of the group. "The First Amendment protects free speech, even when you don't agree with what's being said."

When Boston police asked the demonstrators to move from the front of the podium so that the Veterans Day services could continue, they refused. As the Boston Firemen's Band played The Marine Hymn, several protesters were placed in plastic handcuffs and led away.

Seven years into the Bush regime, this is where we are. Conservatives view those who support keeping U.S. forces strapped down between warring factions in Islam's 1,400 year-old sectarian war as patriots.

But people who oppose Bush's tragic folly --- even if they are Iraq war veterans --- are seen as unpatriotic and "political."

It is beyond outrageous.