Two very different stories simultaneously unfolded in front of U.S. District Court in Hartford today. One, a protest against how the war in Iraq has drained resources away from areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The other, a hearing on whether the Connecticut 103rd Fighter Wing would be realigned out of state. Guess which one the cameras cared about?
Strategically, the anti-war protesters couldn’t have picked a better time and place to transmit their message. At 2:15 p.m., four television cameras perched in front of the Abraham Ribicoff Federal Office Building on Main Street. Various print and radio reporters milled around. Organizer Jason McGahan faced the dozen-or-so supporters holding banners. “We are standing here today as activists against the war in Iraq and for communities here at home,” he said, adding that a definite relationship exists between the “scope and extent of that catastrophe [in New Orleans] and the scope and extent of the financial and human resources dedicated to the war in Iraq.”“The president of the United States should have camped out at the Superdome,” added David Ionno, head of the Central Connecticut chapter of Veterans for Peace.Unfortunately for the protesters, though, during their speeches not one reporter pointed a camera in their direction. The activists’ points became exclusive fodder for Hartford Courant scribes Helen Ubinas and Susan Campbell, and ctnewsjunkie.com. Most of the reporters sprang to life when Attorney General Richard Blumenthal walked out of court. The AG cast a bemused look at the protesters, imparted a few words to the cameras and left, planning to return an hour later once Judge Alfred Covello granted the state’s motion to stop the transfer of the fighter planes out of Connecticut.Part of the reason for the protest was to call attention to a September 24 rally in Washington, D.C. Buses will be traveling from Connecticut to the event. For tickets call the American Friends Services Committee at 860-523-1534, or visit http://ctunitedforpeace.org. Cost is $70, though reduced fares and scholarships can be arranged.