April 23, 2014

Elyria
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test

Rep. Kaptur urges protesters to speak out

OBERLIN — Congresswoman Marci Kaptur says she knows this much: Elected officials who speak out against the Iraq war are not going to be popular in the court of public opinion. On Saturday, Kaptur, a Democrat representing the Ninth District, was pretty clear that she’s not worried about being popular.

CARL SULLENBERGER/CHRONICLE
Residents and others against U.S. troops’ continued presence in Iraq signed their names to this sign demanding an immediate end to the war. The sign was displayed at a rally in Oberlin on Saturday.

The outspoken representative from Toledo was the unflinching highlight of an anti-war rally at Oberlin College’s Tappan Square, where roughly 250 people showed their opposition to the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

“Congresswoman Kaptur is right,” said Oberlin College political science professor Benjamin Schiff, who attended the rally. “People need to mobilize in Ohio and across the country and pay more attention to how the president has hijacked the government and political process.”

Schiff said he was most impressed by Kaptur’s comment that elected officials in the U.S. House and Senate are too intimidated to speak out against the war.

“It’s an extremely powerful comment,” Schiff said.

Kaptur gave an impassioned plea to the crowd, which included Oberlin College students, and others.

Oberlin resident Alicia Kochenower, 20, said a number of her friends are in the military overseas — including some in Iraq.

“We need to end this,” Kochenower said as she listened to Kaptur. “People need to be more passionate about making positive changes in the U.S., and less passionate about just hating everyone in the Middle East.”

Kaptur was unrestrained in her admonishment of the current political climate.

“I feel that our country has been hijacked … and there are days when I feel our Congress had been hijacked,” Kaptur said. “And I’m deeply, deeply worried that our military has been hijacked.”

Kaptur lambasted the administration’s military contracts to private industry.

“I guarantee you that that’s a very dangerous thing for me to say,” Kaptur said. “There’s a lot more of them than there are of me, and they have big money.”

Kaptur said, as an elected official, she and other Congressional officials couldn’t even get the Executive Branch to provide basic information on the funding of the Iraq conflict — where the dollars went, or better yet, who they went to.

“Guess what: I can’t get it,” Kaptur said. “I was unable to get that information, as an elected member of Congress.”

Contact Shawn Foucher at (440) 652-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.