[media-credit name=’JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′][/media-credit]After rallying down State Street, University of Wisconsin students from the Campus Antiwar Network and members of the Madison community stormed the office of Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin, and staged a "teach-in."
Several protesters expressed their displeasure with Kohl's voting record regarding the Iraq war.
"We're here to tell Senator Kohl we're not fooled by his little trick where he tells us he's against the war but then authorizes paying for it," said UW junior and CAN member Paul Pryse.
Kate Losey, one of the CAN event organizers, estimated that more than 200 people attended the rally. However, group members later estimated that approximately 100 people had filled the senator's office at one point.
The event lasted through the night, as protesters demanded a public meeting with the senator be scheduled and refused to leave his office until it was done.
"They aren't going to have coffee with Kohl in D.C. — they wanted to have it with him in Madison," UW sophomore Emily Harris said of her fellow protesters in Kohl's office.
In response to the protest, Kohl released a statement, saying he supports the protesters' criticism of President Bush's "broken war policy."
"I respect and admire the efforts of the UW students that have assembled today to protest the president's broken war policy and join them in calling for a safe return home for our brave men and women serving in the region," Kohl said in a statement late Wednesday.
The 1 p.m. rally, peppered with chants of "This is what democracy looks like," featured speeches from members of CAN and other antiwar student groups, as well as drumming and spoken word performances.
"We are boiling, but we are boiling together," said UW student Laurel Franklin, another CAN member. "We are boiling revolutionaries for change through counter-movements across the globe."
Immediately following the rally, a portion of the group marched to Kohl's office. Steve Burns, a member of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice and a UW faculty assistant in the Physics Department, explained the reasoning for the march and recounted the difficulty of meeting with Kohl in person.
"Some people call him Wisconsin's invisible senator," Burns said.
The group reached the senator's office around 3 p.m., where organizers connected by phone with antiwar activist Howard Zinn and antiwar sports columnist Dave Zirin, who addressed the group as part of the "teach-in."
At approximately 6 p.m., Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, later joined by members of the Madison police force, met with aides in the office and informed the group that only five people would be allowed to remain after 7 p.m. As of press time, roughly 25 people remained in the office.
Assistant press secretary to Senator Kohl Joe Bonafiglio said protests have occurred in the senator's office before.
"Our staff does what they can to accommodate free speech per the senator's request," he said.
Also at the rally, several members of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke about their firsthand experiences at war.
"How many more people need to die for us to learn that our troops being there are not going to do anything but cause more death?" IVAW member Patrick Wilcox said.
Wilcox also related Monday's Virginia Tech shootings to the war, asserting that Americans have "relative apathy toward death of anyone not from our own country."
"This happens every day in Iraq," Wilcox said.