Activists To Meet With DeWine After Jail Stay

CLEVELAND (AP) - Activists who spent 30 hours in jail for refusing to leave Sen. Mike DeWine's office will get a meeting with him.

Ten members of a group opposed to U.S. foreign policy in Colombia were jailed April 30 and charged with resisting arrest and criminal trespassing for refusing to leave DeWine's Columbus office until a meeting date had been set.

DeWine's office called Columbus police when the protesters refused to leave.

The charges were dropped with DeWine's consent Tuesday in Franklin County Municipal Court. DeWine (pictured, above) announced he would meet Aug. 13 with a delegation from the Ohio Working Group on Latin America.

"I'm glad there's going to be a meeting, but it's a shame we had to spend two days in jail and go through all this just to meet with our elected representative," said John Durkalski, an Oberlin College student from Lakewood, told The Plain Dealer.

Durkalski and other activists said they tried for more than two years to meet with the Republican senator.

DeWine spokesman Mike Dawson said he did not know when the meeting requests began but he found it "hard to believe" they date back two years.

Dawson also insisted that DeWine's staff committed to a meeting on the date of the arrests but could not set a specific date until DeWine's calendar had been set.

The organization opposes DeWine's support for "Plan Colombia," the U.S. government's policy of providing military equipment to battle Colombia's drug trade.

DeWine believes that America's help is needed to curtail drug traffic and curb violence in the region. Opponents say the policy is causing more violence and that herbicides sprayed on coca plants are harming children and other crops.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)