By Dennis Shook for   Published Aug 25, 2006 at 5:17 AM
An area man who has actively opposed the Iraq conflict and was found guilty recently of a violation of a lawful order in his protest outside the Pentagon discovered it doesn't cost too many bucks to buck the system. Phil Runkel, 59, Waukesha, was only fined $50 and court costs and he said  that is not enough to make him quit on his protests.

Most of the 51 participants in the Pentagon incident were also found guilty  and fined similar amounts by a court in Alexandria, Va. They had faced a  maximum of  six months in jail and a fine of $5,000 for their war protest  last March.

They nearly 200 protestors were arrested outside the Pentagon. They were  seeking a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to protest  the Iraqi invasion which Rumsfeld so strongly supported.

The group violated the law when they went over a temporary fence that had  been placed there to stop such protests. They were carrying a coffin to  symbolize the people killed in in the Iraq conflict.

Runkel, who works at Marquette University, said after the sentencing that he was pleased with the outcome.

"The judge allowed us considerable leeway to include concerns about  international law, U.S. foreign policy, morality, etc., in our statements  and testimony," Runkel said. "Fortunately, we did not draw Pat Buchanan's  sister-in law, who had presided over the previous trial, and we were able to  establish that our actions posed no threat to ourselves or others, as the  law under which we were convicted seems to require."

Runkel said he will probably pay the fine rather than appeal the verdict. "It certainly did not discourage me from future protests," he said, adding  that most of the others seemed to feel the same way.

Runkel said he will likely attend the "Declaration of Peace/Week of  Nonviolent Action" scheduled for  September 21-28 in the nation's capitol.

The Declaration of Peace is a nationwide campaign to establish by September  21, 2006 a concrete and rapid plan for peace in Iraq.

Among the goals are a prompt timetable for withdrawal of troops and closure  of bases; a peace process for security, reconstruction, and reconciliation;  and the shift of funding for war to meeting human needs.

Runkel said the plan calls for Congress to act on the goals by Sept. 21,  which is to be the "International Day of Peace." If there is no action,  there are large-scale nonviolent protests planned for Washington, D.C. and  in communities throughout the nation.