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2 Charged after Anti-war Protest at Air Force Base

A Christian anti-war protest at Langley Air Force Base last week, part of a weeklong set of demonstrations in the region, led to charges against two people accused of blocking the entrance to the base.

A group of about 20 protesters were gathered at the intersection of Armistead Avenue and Sweeney Boulevard outside the base April 18, and at about 3:30 p.m., six of them went to the outer perimeter of the gate in the middle of the road, blocking traffic headed into the base, according to Hampton Police Division spokeswoman Cpl. Mary Shackelford.

Officials verbally commanded the group to stop and get out of the road, police said. Instead of doing so, they continued moving toward the inner perimeter of the gate, and two of them sat in the middle of the road, Shackelford said.

The two, Steven Baggarly, 49, of Norfolk, and Ardeth Platte, 78, of Baltimore, received summons for failure to walk on the left side of the roadway, Hampton police said.

The other four were escorted out of the road by Langley security forces with the help of Hampton police.

The protest was peaceful before law enforcement officials got involved, said Capt. Kevin Whitlatch, the chief of public affairs for Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Whitlatch said the other four were not charged.

"We support people's right to protest," Whitlatch said. "When they blocked traffic, that's when they needed to intervene."

The demonstration at Langley was the culmination of a series of anti-war protests at local military bases and related sites during the Christian Holy Week, which precedes Easter, Baggarly said.

The effort was put together by several local Christian groups-- Norfolk Catholic Worker, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Pax Christi Hampton Roads and Huntington Mennonite Church --and each stop corresponded with one of the 14 Stations of the Cross, which marks Jesus' journey to his crucifixion.

At Langley specifically, the group was protesting work involving drones, Baggarly said.

"Doing civil disobedience at the end of the walk is an attempt to make a strong and nonviolent statement of drone warfare," Baggarly said.

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