9/11 -- St. Petersburg Times Special Report

Sunday, Sept. 1
  • Florida: Terror's launching pad
  • The 19 plotters and their day of terror
  • Remembering

    Monday, Sept. 2
  • When tragedy meets capitalism
  • '9/11 fatigue' is natural, mental health experts say

    Tuesday, Sept. 3
  • Coping as a kid
  • Eric Deggans: 9/11 documentary asks troubling questions about religion
  • Sept. 11 photograph exhibit opens

    Wednesday, Sept. 4
  • Millions in new funding don't guarantee security
  • Donations to local charities slow in months after attacks
  • Sept. 11 donations swamp charities
  • Bush to visit three attack sites on 9/11

    Thursday, Sept. 5
  • Attack anniversary is living history lesson
  • Trading fallback system improved
  • Future of site still beset by debate

    Friday, Sept. 6
  • Senate approves plan to allow armed pilots
  • Dream job becoming demoralizing
  • New plane doors would withstand gunfire
  • What ever happened to ... Those patriotic paint jobs?
  • The other 911
  • Consolidated for the cause

    Saturday, Sept. 7
  • In chaos, TIA tower controlled 9/11 skies
  • Congress, N.Y. reaffirm solidarity
  • Traveling can be nicer in rougher countries
  • For TIA workers, 'normal' not what it used to be
  • Airlines don't see relief over horizon
  • Terror only one blow to tourism
  • A year later, it's the home fires that burn brightly
  • Flying the flag

    Sunday, Sept. 8
  • 125 Cedar Street
  • The drama in Sarasota
  • Cautious, yes, but still traveling
  • As security increases, fervor fades
  • Rising risks
  • Finding lessons in rubble of tragedy
  • Public loss, private grief
  • Duty calls; he goes; they wait
  • Riled residents show true colors
  • Keeping her distance
  • Which way leads up?
  • For the record
  • 45 Questions
  • A lexicon of terror, post-9/11
  • Before attacks, this was the news
  • Other events on Sept. 11
  • Voice mail delivers, retains final words
  • Keeping us rolling
  • 9.11
  • How we'll view it

    Monday, Sept. 9
  • The residue of terror
  • Patriotism is more than emotion
  • What ever happened to . . .: Our religious fervor?
  • The nightmares return
  • Life has the right-of-way
  • Free to disagree
  • 'Time has not healed the pain'
  • Deputies to step up patrol for anniversary
  • Security upgrade since 9/11 slow, steady
  • Enthusiasm for PHCC's security classes dissipates
  • Teachers untangle Sept. 11 lessons
  • A bumpy year for business
  • The man who would have led Afghanistan
  • People who made the headlines

    Tuesday, Sept. 10
  • Multitude to gather to wave U.S. flags
  • Pictures evoke profound feelings
  • Attacks haven't boosted sales of cell phones
  • Schools discover ways to reflect on attacks
  • Flags still wave, but sales fall from peak
  • Three fathers lost
  • Telemarketers easing up on 9/11
  • Nuclear plant adds security layers to prevent terrorism
  • Cough, stress hinder emergency workers
  • Families of missing sit in limbo
  • Places of importance after the attacks

    Wednesday, Sept. 11
  • Remembrance and renewal
  • Flags Along the Bayshore: Tampa Remembers 9/11
  • Ways of remembering
  • A piece of paper . a blue and white truck
  • Is America ready for another attack?
  • Nation to honor victims in silence
  • Poll: Compassion remains
  • The war so far
  • Terror update
  • Attack on Iraq would test headquarters at MacDill
  • 09-11-01 Perspectives
  • Those who died in the attacks
  • Myriad rescue agencies trust their link won't fail
  • Photo gallery
  • (This Flash gallery requires the free Flash Player 5+.)

    Thursday, Sept. 12
  • Emotional service honors those who died selflessly
  • Elements of pride
  • Echo of 9/11 empties airport
  • A day full of tributes, flags and questions
  • Prayer, fellowship pull many through agonizing anniversary
  • Tributes great and small
  • Children in a changed world pause to reflect
  • Citrus recalls 9/11 with its heart
  • Marking the imponderable
  • Ministers assure that God was there that sorrowful day
  • Chime recalls a nation's losses
  • For law officers, day passes quietly
  • Residents gather to heal, remember
  • In big and small ways, our community pays tribute
  • Cities somberly mark Sept. 11
  • Patriotic display greets drivers
  • Day of grief, resolve
  • At county schools, remembrance resounds
  • Travel lags on attacks' anniversary
  • They were us
  • Americans worldwide cautious on anniversary
  • Radical Muslims discuss 'positive outcomes' of Sept. 11
  • Amid grief, Bush gives warning

  • printer version

    09-11-01
    HEROISM

    Free to disagree

    photo
    [Times photo: James Borchuck]
    Dwight Lawton is resolute in his convictions, willing to be arrested for the cause of peace.

    By TOM ZUCCO, Times Staff Writer

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 9, 2002


    Americans appreciate their freedoms more than before - including the right to protest.

    It was Sunday, May 26, more than eight months after Sept. 11. The patriotic fever that swept the country had faded, but most people were still solidly behind the war in Afghanistan. That night, as they often do, people gathered along Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa to wave American flags and acknowledge the cheers from motorists.

    A few hours earlier and a few miles away, outside the entrance to MacDill Air Force Base, several hundred other people lined a different road and carried different banners. W is for War, Stop War-Cry Peace and Impeachment Now. Their cause -- a peace rally -- was far less popular. Passing motorists either stared or glared.

    The Bayshore Patriots say they'll wave their flags until the war ends. Some would say it's a heroic effort.

    Terror: The residue of terror
    Its swift, sudden onslaught freezes the will; its lingering shades darken the imagination.

    Patriotism: More than just emotion
    Shared ideals unified us after Sept. 11; misplaced zeal cannot be permitted to splinter commitment to those ideals.

    Security: The nightmares return
    "I thought I was through having nightmares about that case," Pat Johnson says.

    Spirituality: Life has the right-of-way
    Last Sept. 11, a Tampa boy's bar mitzvah was days away. A teaching from the Talmud helped him and his family decide to go ahead with their celebration.

    Heroism: Free to disagree
    Americans appreciate their freedoms more than before -- including the right to protest.

    The other group, a coalition ranging from the American Indian Movement to the Florida Alliance for Peace and Social Justice, risked ridicule and arrest to make their statement that Sunday.

    They would say their efforts were just as heroic.

    Dwight Lawton doesn't look the part of a radical. He's 71, a retired commercial truck-leasing manager. He should be holding a 9-iron, not a protest sign and a bullhorn.

    But because of his beliefs, Lawton has spent time in jail. He has been arrested six or seven times for demonstrating against the government, big business and the military. He's a union organizer, a Green Party member and a Christian who lives alone in a Pinellas Point condo.

    When the organizers of the May 26 peace rally looked for someone to lead an act of civil disobedience, to be a calming, steady force during what could be a tense situation, Lawton was the logical choice.

    He decided early on that the protest in front of MacDill would not be a surprise event. Several weeks before the rally, Lawton spoke with the Tampa Police Department to let them know what was planned and to emphasize that it would be peaceful. Demonstrators would probably block an access road to the base, he said, but they were not going into the base.

    Still, he was worried.

    "We really didn't know if we'd have enough people," Lawton said recently at his home. "If you're going to do civil disobedience, I believe you've got to sit down and talk about Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Jesus and what it means. We did not do that because we didn't have a commitment from people ahead of time."

    But they secured a permit to hold a rally in the park across the street, and as May 26 approached, Lawton grew hopeful.

    "There's another aspect to being a good citizen," he said. "Dissent. The people who do this generally feel the political process has left them behind. They don't have a voice. And they have an opposition to war in varying degrees. They are good people."

    Several hundred demonstrators showed up at the park that day. A like number of police stood off to the side, waiting and watching in helicopters, in patrol cars and on horseback. "I've often wondered," Lawton said, chuckling, "how many police it takes to protect the military."

    After a few speeches, Lawton raised a bullhorn and asked if anyone wanted to take part in another form of protest. He explained that they would simply walk into the road in front of the gates and sit down.

    Nine people threaded through the crowd and joined Lawton at the curb. He was the first to step out into the street. One by one, the tiny group sat in the road.

    "I was just concerned that . . . I wouldn't get run over," Lawton said. "That's how courageous I am."

    As dozens of peace activists cheered from the side of the road, the demonstrators were handcuffed and shackled around their waists and ankles. There were no fights, no struggles. Everyone went peacefully to the windowless Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office van.

    To help take their mind off the 90-degree heat, the people in the van made small talk, told jokes and tried to get know each other.

    "I was sitting next to a woman who turned out to be underage," Lawton remembered. "She was 16 or 17. We never would've let her come with us if we had known.

    "But she was fine. Kind of a blithe spirit.

    "We needed that."

    It took seven hours to process the protesters at the Orient Road jail. They were originally charged with unlawful assembly, but that was changed to resisting arrest without violence. Each person's bail was set at $50.

    Lawton was asked recently whether he thinks the U.S. troops in Afghanistan were heroes.

    "The troops were," he answered. "The grunts. But the leaders weren't. They knew this was about oil. That this was just an opportunity to expand our influence and set up a friendly government over there.

    "And they're killing civilians."

    That night, there was scant mention of the protest at MacDill on the local TV news, and in the papers the next morning, only a few short items.

    Julie Sargent is a stay-at-home mom and one of the founding members of the Bayshore Patriots.

    "We do have freedom of speech in this country," she said, referring to the protesters. "And they are free to express what they believe. But it's really because the military has protected our freedom that gives us that freedom.

    "And they were sitting down, blocking the road. I bet they wouldn't have been arrested if they had not been in the road. Carrying signs is fine. But when they sat down and blocked the entrance, that crossed the line."

    Lawton and other protesters knew blocking the road was illegal. They knew they would be arrested. But that was the price they were willing to pay to symbolically close down MacDill Air Force Base.

    "What does dissent mean?" Lawton asked. "It means maybe getting ridiculed and arrested, and maybe losing your friends or the respect of your children. Maybe losing your job. Those are very real fears for a lot of people.

    "Is what we did heroic?

    "I spent a few hours in jail. There are people around the world who have been jail for years, many who've given their lives, to stop war and end injustice.

    "They're the heroes."

    - Tom Zucco is a Times staff writer.


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    Related coverage
  • The residue of terror
  • Patriotism is more than emotion
  • What ever happened to . . .: Our religious fervor?
  • The nightmares return
  • Life has the right-of-way
  • Free to disagree
  • 'Time has not healed the pain'
  • Deputies to step up patrol for anniversary
  • Security upgrade since 9/11 slow, steady
  • Enthusiasm for PHCC's security classes dissipates
  • Teachers untangle Sept. 11 lessons
  • A bumpy year for business
  • The man who would have led Afghanistan
  • People who made the headlines