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LOCAL News :: Peace & War

3 UR Students Arrested Tuesday at Military Recruiting Center

3 UR students were arreseted Tuesday evening for protesting the military's policy against accepting openly gay men and women into the service.
This is a firsthand, partial account of the action taken by University of Richmond students Jacob Neal, Kristen Tilley, and Naoum Tavantzis at the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Willow Lawn shopping center on Broad Street.

Jacob Neal and Jessica Miller, two openly gay students, each attempted to sign up for military service Tuesday. Miller's interview with a recruitment officer Tuesday morning ended when she revealed her sexuality.

Later that day, Jacob Neal had an interview with a recruitment officer from the U.S. Navy. Accompanied by about 20 supporters from the UR community (including students, staff, and faculty), Neal asked and answered a variety of questions regarding potential service in the Navy.

He then noted that he had one more concern, whether as a gay man that would present any issues in the Navy. The officer replied that he was not allowed to ask about any potential recruit's sexuality, but now that the information had been volunteered, that he would not be able to process Neal's application, thus ending the interview.

At this point Neal responded by briefly describing the injustice of this policy and some of the ongoing efforts to persuade the military to change the policy, and that the assembled gathering planned to sit-in in the office in protest. The recruitment officer responded that he understood what the group was trying to do, but that eventually the police would be called.

Neal's interview lasted from roughly 6 to 6:15 p.m. By the time the police came and arrests were made at 9:30 p.m., there were still about 10 supporters on-hand in addition to the arrested students. A court hearing regarding the arrested students was held this morning.

The arrested UR students are affiilated with the national group Soul Force, www.soulforce.org.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch carried a brief account of this action (albeit without interviewing any students or supporters). Reporters from UR's The Collegian and VCU's The Commonwealth Times were also on hand.

I will update this post as more details become available.

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