By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; B01
Trish Comstock, 77, and Jane Califf, 67, sat side by side on the sidewalk outside the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill yesterday, their hands cuffed behind them with plastic wrist ties.
They were among 59 people arrested by Capitol police yesterday during antiwar and global warming protests that temporarily blocked the entrances to the office building and disrupted morning traffic for about an hour on Independence Avenue just south of the Capitol.
But they stood out among the 200 or so mostly youthful demonstrators who swirled in and around the office building on foot or on bicycles, some locking arms in the middle of Independence to impede traffic. Both women said they hail from Bloomfield, N.J. Comstock said she was a retired college writing teacher and Califf, a retired education professor.
"I have a granddaughter," Comstock said as she sat waiting to be taken to a police van. "And I don't want her coming into a world like this. It's just very painful for me."
Califf said: "I'm very frightened about the climate crises that we're facing. I think we have to get away from fossil fuels and gas and oil and to clean energy . . . I stopped teaching because what's the point of having perfect lesson plans. . . . and you have no world to teach in."
Yesterday's protest was the latest of four rallies in the District since Friday aimed at an array of issues that included government immigration policy, international economic policy, the war in Iraq and climate change. They coincided with meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
There were no reported injuries or damage yesterday, police said, and traffic was rerouted at the height of the disturbance.
Many of those arrested had to be dragged or carried by officers from the street or sidewalk, their bodies limp or rigid in protest. Police said two of those arrested were younger than 18.
One handcuffed demonstrator said he was 14. "I'm here to show that there are other people my age out here," the youth said as he sat waiting to be taken to a police car.
"Are you going to walk to the car, or are we going to have to carry you?" a police officer asked him.
"Carry me, man," the 14-year-old replied.
The arrested were taken away in police vehicles and charged with unlawful assembly or incommoding -- blocking an entrance.
The demonstration began about 8 a.m. when members of the protest group Code Pink appeared at Independence and New Jersey avenues.
One protester, who identified herself as Desiree Fairooz, of Arlington, Tex., wore a pink coat and scarf and a huge likeness of the head of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as she waved to passing motorists.
"I moved to D.C. in March," she said, her voice muffled inside the head. "I'm a former children's librarian. I quit my job to help end the war. . . . I hope to one day be a librarian again."
Moments later, eight people dressed in polar bear suits strode up the steps of the Cannon Building carrying a banner that read: "Polar Bears for Solutions to War and Global Warming."
One of them, Ariel Vegosen, 27, said: "We are dressed up as polar bears to raise awareness around the fact that the war is directly related to global warming and contributing to global warming. We are here . . . to make that message loud and clear."
The group, accompanied by a portable speaker system that blared music, was shooed off the steps by police but continued demonstrating on the sidewalk.
Around the corner, Comstock, Califf and about 20 others blocked an entrance to the building at First and C streets SE. Police warned them via a bullhorn to move and then began handcuffing those who didn't.
"No war! No warming!" yelled Joshua Trost, 33, of Wauconda, Ill., as he was handcuffed and brought from the entrance by police. "I'm putting my body on the line. . . ."
As she sat handcuffed on the sidewalk, Nadine Bloch of Takoma Park was voicing her anger over the war, climate change and Congress when she was interrupted by a police officer.
"Ready to get up?" he said.
"I'm not ready," she said.
"Ready?" the officer said to a partner. "Go."
Bloch was lifted and carried toward the police van.
"No war!" someone shouted.
"No warming!" came the response.