Peace advocates rally against war

On-campus, anti-invasion gathering draws students, community members.

With signs that read "Speak for peace, stand in truth" and "20 million Iraqi people aren't Saddam Hussein," students and community members gathered on campus Friday to rally for peace and protest war with Iraq.

The rally, organized by literary magazine THINK and Students for Alternative Forms of Entertainment, came shortly after Congress approved a resolution late Thursday to give President Bush broad authority to use military force against Iraq.

After gathering at North Quad around 11 a.m., the peace advocates then marched north on McKinley Avenue to LaFollette Field, where they read poetry, played music, chanted and spoke about their feelings on a possible U.S.-led war with Iraq.

"Today we gather to send out a message of peace," said Adam Thompson, one of the rally's organizers, in a speech.

After Thompson gave his speech, many others followed and addressed the audience from a small wooden stage set up in the field.

"The cycle (of war) will continue until we are seen as the threat of the world and therefore the enemies of peace," senior English major Dave Proctor said.

While most of those who spoke protested waging war on another nation, a few speakers urged audience members to vote and write their representatives in Congress.

A state representative who attended the rally said he supported the peace movement and opposed going to war.

"I'm not against protecting our freedoms," District 34 Rep. Tiny Adams said. "But I think there are some people in power with egos who aren't concerned with our country, but with themselves."

About 60 people, ranging in age from about 3 years to 93 years old, attended the rally Friday. But despite the different generations, a common viewpoint echoed throughout the more than two hour gathering.

"I don't think there's ever a way to change what's in people's hearts by destroying their homes," junior English major Stephanie Miller said. "By invading Iraq, I feel like we're violating their civilians."

Miller's son, three-year-old Joshua, had no comment on issue, but 93-year-old Ruth Oren did.

"I'm very much in favor of peace," said Oren, who was at the rally with other members from the Friends Memorial Church's Peace and Christians Social Concerns Committee.

The rally caused some people who didn't know about it to stop and listen to what the group had to say.

"Obviously I think it's something people care about," sophomore sports administration major Rion Snyder said. "If this many people are coming out, it's something that needs to be addressed."

Snyder said he didn't have a particular view on the issue but was curious what others had to say.

Not everyone shared Snyder's open-mindedness, though. As the group marched down McKinley Avenue, they received some stares from students who were out between classes.

"Let's go slit his throat," one passerby said about Saddam Hussein.

Overall, however, Thompson said he was happy with the turnout of the rally.

"I think it's important to get everyone involved, not just the college students and youth," Thompson said. "Everyone's voice - it's all these opinions - that matter."


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