Anti-war veterans crash North Side recruiting office

'MINOR DISRUPTION'| Attempt to keep staff from work

BY MAUREEN O'DONNELL,, Sept. 18, 2007

The instructions for an unusual anti-war protest Monday contained a bold-face warning for the easily persuaded: "DO NOT SIGN ANY PAPERS."

That's because demonstrators were supposed to tie up military recruiters with calls and appointments.

"Every minute that a recruiter's spending with someone from the movement is a minute that they're not recruiting for the war," said Aaron Hughes of Iraq Veterans Against the War, which planned similar actions nationwide.

At least five protesters -- two of them veterans -- entered the U.S. Army Recruiting Station at 1239 N. Clybourn Monday morning. They said they peppered recruiters with questions about military jobs and benefits.

One was Ken Nielsen, 37, who joined the Army during Operation Desert Shield. He said he respects recruiters, but, "I'd rather them use their time on my getting information, than [them] going into schools."

"They're spending all this time getting recruits for this war that is illegal," said Hughes, 27, a member of the Illinois Army National Guard who drove a truck in Iraq.

He said he is convinced U.S. actions have hurt Iraqis more than they have helped. Contractors seemed to be the only ones to benefit, he said. "I didn't have plates for my flak vest, and yet I'm hauling air conditioners for contractors," he said.

Monday's action caused "minor disruption," said Mike Scheck, a spokesman for the Chicago Recruiting Battalion.

"We're not here to judge them," Scheck said. "Our job is to defend their right to say it. . . . We are doing what we're told, and we're not bound by politics. We're bound by the commander in chief and [military] decisions."

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