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Coupeville peace flag protest ends in assault

Janis Schurr displays the peace flag she used to protest the Iraq war Saturday in Coupeville. A passing motorist apparently first believed it was an American flag and wrestled it away from her. - Gayle Saran
Janis Schurr displays the peace flag she used to protest the Iraq war Saturday in Coupeville. A passing motorist apparently first believed it was an American flag and wrestled it away from her.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

Tempers flared last week at a Coupeville peace rally that ended with a woman hanging onto the hood of a moving car and a driver charged with assault and reckless endangerment.

As Janis Schurr, 51, Admiral's Cove, joined other peace protesters in Coupeville she carried a red and white striped flag that has a white peace symbol in the blue square filling the upper corner.

She was assaulted by Clayton Miller, 42, of Coupeville when he saw her with that flag draped on the sidewalk.

"It was very windy, so I was trying to attach it to a pole so I could wave it," Schurr said.

Schurr said Miller pulled his car onto the curb near her and stopped.

"He jumped out of the car and came towards me, shouting to pick up the flag," she said. "We struggled over my flag for a few moments until he overpowered me. He threw my flag in the back seat of the car."

She then stood in front of his compact car asking that he return her flag.

"I tried to explain to him that it was a peace flag, not the American flag, but he wasn't listening to me."

Schurr said Miller then was unable to back out onto Highway 20, so he pulled forward.

Thanks to quick reflexes, Schurr had the presence of mind to jump on the hood of the car to avoid getting run over.

"I had nowhere to go to get out of his way," she said, "so instead of getting my legs rammed I laid on the hood of his car."

At that point, she said, Miller sped up as he drove on Main Street toward downtown Coupeville. After driving several hundred yards, he pulled into a bank parking lot and stopped. He then threw the flag at Schurr and sped away.

"It was scary riding on the hood," she said. "I didn't know if he was going to stop and let me off."

Schurr, a former nurse, received minor bruises.

Miller was arrested by the Coupeville marshal later that afternoon. He was booked on the charges and released on his own recognizance.

Coupeville Marshall Lenny Marlborough said the charge is a misdemeanor. Miller will receive a summons to appear in city court.

Marlborough said the only other incident related to the regular peace demonstrations in Coupeville occurred last month when a verbal disturbance erupted at the same intersection between a peace protester and a passing driver.

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