By MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer
HELENA - Nine war protesters were arrested at the state Capitol here Thursday after blocking an entrance and refusing to leave.
Their protest was one of a number being held around the state the day after the U.S.-led strike on Iraq began.
Following a rally of about 200 on the south side of the Capitol, a small group moved to block a main entrance into the building. They ignored warnings from security guards to move away.
''This is just my way of making a nonviolent statement that I don't support the killing of children,'' said Scott Hyslop of Bozeman.
Curses and insults met 25 or so Billings demonstrators, including children, as they sang peace songs and prayed on the courthouse lawn. One woman had a red peace sign painted on her face. One of several signs read, ''Stop the killing. End Bush's war.''
Two men who said they were veterans stood nearby and heckled the group. An old man walking past mumbled curse words.
''Move to France!'' a woman motorist yelled. A man in a white SUV shouted and made a vulgar hand gesture.
Shannon Merchen, 28, brought her daughters, Kyra, 5, and Marley, 3. Her brother, who is in the U.S. Army, had just called to say he got his orders, she said.
''My 5-year-old told me she wanted to make a sign and march and say no to war,'' Merchen said.
Responses were friendlier in Missoula, even though one demonstrator burned an American flag following a gathering of 200 people at a city park.
Some of them later lined the Higgins Avenue Bridge, where passing motorists responded with friendly horn honks and the V for peace, but a few used a single-finger response.
The demonstration began as a rally in Caras Park that Anita Doyle, director of the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center, said had been planned before fighting started in Iraq.
''Our intent, really, was to provide a place for people to gather in a time of grief,'' she said.
The Helena rally began with speeches from state politicians and peace advocates.
But after a couple of hours, a group of about 20 moved to block the doorway and held up a sign that said ''No blood for oil.''
Police warned that those who didn't leave would be arrested. Nine refused to move, and were taken away in handcuffs.
Helena Police said they'll be charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Gov. Judy Martz admonished the protesters, saying earlier in the day that ''you either support (the troops) or are against them.''
''I think it's a time for us to really support our soldiers,'' she said. ''This truly is about our soldiers.''
Rep. Christine Kaufmann, D-Helena, said Martz was missing the point of the lunchtime peace rally.
''I know I'll be called anti-American for speaking here,'' she told the crowd. ''But I think it's very American to challenge our leaders to listen to the consensus of the world. I believe that is as patriotic as I can be.''
Dianne Evans, a nurse in the Vietnam War, said war protesters learned long ago to support the troops while opposing the government's action.
''We will pull together for our troops,'' she said. ''We know what we want. We want a more just and compassionate government.''
During the rally, Helena resident Frank Kromkowski urged the protesters to oppose a ''murderous war.''
''Our actions in Iraq have begun without legal or moral authority,'' he said. ''This war and the president's illegal actions must be stopped.''
Sen. Jon Ellingson, D-Missoula, told the crowd that the nation is risking its international reputation with a war that has questionable motives. ''We cannot be a model for the entire world when we engage in war that is pre-emptive and unprovoked,'' he said.