Seven people were arrested yesterday for refusing to leave U.S. Senator Bob Corker's Memphis office inside the Peabody Place complex. The seven were part of a nonviolent "die-in" protest to mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War.
In August, the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center demanded that Corker hold a town hall meeting in Memphis to allow constituents to express concerns over the war. The group claims Corker's office didn't provide response to repeated letters and phone calls, but Corker's spokesperson Laura Lefler says their records show the office did respond to each of the group's requests
MSPJC executive director Jacob Flowers and volunteer Ceylon Mooney went upstairs to Corker's office. The two had an appointment to discuss the town hall meeting request with a member of Corker's staff. While they waited in the lobby, Flowers and Mooney read the names of American and Iraqi victims of the war.
"They called security and the Memphis Police. But then Corker's [Washington] D.C. office called and instructed them not to have us arrested," said Flowers.
After the meeting with Corker's aide, Flowers and Mooney refused to leave the office until they received a fax from Corker agreeing to a town hall meeting. Several protesters joined them from outside.
"We were told we could wait until 5 p.m. and that we were welcome to read the names [of the war victims], but the senator would not hold a town hall meeting in Memphis," said Flowers.
"We welcomed them and I believe we served them refreshments," said Laura Lefler, a spokesperson in Corker's Washington press office. "We even allowed them to use our phone to order pizza."
"We certainly respect their opinions, as we do all of our constituents," said Lefler. "But they have to respect our office hours and the policy of the building where our office is located."
According to Memphis Police spokesperson Monique Martin, Peabody Place security called South Main officers to arrest the remaining protesters.
Flowers (27), Mooney (33), Jessica Butterworth (32), Kathleen Kruzek (42), Peter Gathje (50), Dennis Paden (50), and George Grider (67) were arrested around 5:30 p.m. and charged with criminal trespassing. All were released on their own recognizance from 201 Poplar early this morning.