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The Granny Brigade

Susan Notes: This is brilliant strategy and solid ethics besides. How can we continue to let our young people be slaughtered in a war sponsored by corporate America? Hand-wringing isn't good enough; these grannies certainly did more.

By Cynthia R. Fagen

Eighteen gray-haired grandmothers protesting the war in Iraq were arrested for disorderly conduct yesterday after they shuffled to the entrance of the Times Square military recruiting center and tried to enlist.

"We wanted to sign up. Instead of our kids dying, we wanted to take their place. We've already lived our lives," said granny of five Joan Wile, 74.

"We tried to ring the bell at the booth, but no one answered. I saw a head poke up from behind the counter every once in a while and then duck back down. I don't know what they were afraid of," said the director of Grandmothers against the War. "Maybe they don't know how to deal with a bunch of grannies."

The women, whose ages ranged from 49 to 90, then sat down in front of the recruitment station and chanted, "We insist, we want to enlist."

Brooklynite Carol Houston, who has two grandkids said, "I protested against the Vietnam War. I just hope we don't have to wait as long as it took to end that one."

Cops quickly arrested the elderly protesters.

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"The police were absolute dolls. They called us sweetie. A lot of us couldn't get off the ground with our hip replacement and arthritis," Wile said. "I think they got instructions to treat us nicely," she said, adding that the oldest protester was Marie Runyon, who is 90 and blind.

Some 100 supporters were on hand when the grandmothers were whisked away in police vans to the Midtown North precinct.

"The handcuffs were uncomfortable. I wonder how they felt doing this to 80- and 90-year-old women," Wile said.

At the station house, it was two grannies to a cell.

"We spent four hours in jail. We were like any hardened criminal. It was one bed and a toilet." Wile said.

The women, who received desk appearance tickets, were ordered back to court Nov. 15.

— Cynthia R. Fagen
New York Post


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