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Embarrassed by Columbus

Columbus, Ohio, has once again distinguished itself. After walking more than 2,400 miles from San Francisco since February, a group of men, women and children participating in The Longest Walk II experienced their first police problem in Columbus.

On June 2, as this peaceful group walked in the parking lane and on the sidewalk on the west side of Columbus, eight police cars zoomed up, one blocking their way. A police officer came up to a van that follows the walkers and reached into the window and grabbed and yanked the steering wheel. He yelled at the young woman who was driving a carload of young children and threatened, ''Your children would be taken away and given to Children's Services!''

As the children began to cry, their mothers who were walking came to see what was wrong and to comfort them. A walker charged with security came up and was grabbed, kneed, thrown to the ground and handcuffed. A police officer pointed a Taser gun at the head of a walker, an attorney, as he spoke to the police. A grandmother spoke softly to an officer asking what the concern was and trying to calm a situation that was becoming increasingly frightening. She pointed out, ''We are like your mothers, your sisters, your children.'' Ultimately the walkers were allowed to continue, but were badly shaken by this unprovoked and frightening experience.

The walkers have walked through the snow, extreme rain, and the blazing sun. They are often tired, hungry, thirsty and sore. They will continue through Ohio on Route 40 to their destination of Washington, D.C., expecting to arrive in July.

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I hope our leaders will ask questions about our ''Columbus Welcome'' to these peaceful people who were picking up our trash as they walked for health, justice and the environment. If you are embarrassed for our city by our police's harassment, as I am, consider sending a message of support and a donation, if you are able, to the Longest Walk at their Web site at

- Lynn Crevling

Columbus, Ohio