War protesters picket Capitol office

About 50 people picketed near Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s office in Kanawha City at noon Friday, asking her to support a House resolution opposing President Bush’s plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq.

Police later removed one protester and issued him a citation.

Later Friday afternoon, that resolution passed the House of Representatives, 246-182. Capito, R-W.Va., voted against it. Reps. Alan Mollohan and Nick Rahall, both D-W.Va., voted for it.

Four people remained in Capito’s office in mid-afternoon, after her staff closed the office and locked the doors, denying access to anyone else, including television reporters.

Three protesters left later, leaving only the Rev. Jim Lewis, a leader of Patriots for Peace, inside with a Capito staff member.

Lewis said, “When we learned she voted against the resolution, we began occupying her office. The other three people left, but I am going to stay here to protest against her vote. She has supported this war from day one and refused to separate herself from the president.

Capito’s staff said she has lots of misgivings about the surge. But if she has misgivings, why didn’t she vote for the resolution against sending more troops? We support the troops, but the way to support them is not to send more,” Lewis said.

About 7:30 p.m., Charleston police escorted Lewis out of Capito’s office after 10 hours and issued him a citation to appear before a judge later this month.

Capito spokesman Jordan Stoick said the congresswoman welcomes debate on the Iraq war and “has appreciated her discussions with this group in the past.”

“She thought it was unfortunate that they cancelled a scheduled meeting with her two weeks ago, but remains open to any invitation to hear their concerns,” Stoick said.

Paul Sheridan, a Charleston resident who held an “Out of Iraq” sign near the office earlier in the day, said late Friday that their scheduled trip to meet with Capito in Washington was cancelled because one member of the delegation had a death in the family.

“We want Capito to come back here and have an open conversation with her constituents,” he said. “We would like to persuade her that increasing troops would expand the tragedy.”

Last month, Capito spoke out against the troop surge in Iraq, but spoke against the Democrat-backed resolution on Friday.

“I will never vote to cut funding for our troops,” she said on the floor of the U.S. House. “Nor will I allow my vote on a symbolic resolution – one that has the force of politics but not the force of law – to be used as part of any ‘baseline’ or part of any ‘first step’ toward cutting funding for our troops.”

Lewis said Capito should hold a town hall meeting with her constituents to explain her “double-talk” position.

“She’s been connected to the president’s hip since day one on this war,” he said. “There was not one word in this resolution about money.”