Thousands rally against war
Numbers, chants recall protests of war in Vietnam
Sunday, February 9, 2003BY DON FABER
News Staff Reporter
In a tableau reminiscent of the late 1960s, some 2,000 chanting and banner-toting protesters took to the streets of downtown Ann Arbor Saturday to oppose a possible war with Iraq.
The noontime rally snarled traffic around downtown. Observers said it was one of the largest peace marches in Ann Arbor since the Vietnam War.
Even the chants - "One, two, three, four, we don't want your dirty war" - recalled the protests of that other era. Some of Saturday's marchers took part in those earlier peace demonstrations.
"We want to send a message to the U.S. government and to (President) Bush that we're not violent," said Anne Elder outside the Federal Building on Liberty Street. She had carpooled to the protest with a group called "Chelsea for Peace."
Ray Bernreuter of Saline was just as vehement. "War is amoral," he said, "and a pre-emptive strike by the U.S. would be worse than amoral."
Asked what he'd rather see by way of an alternative, Bernreuter said, "Something other than retaliation. Might doesn't make right."
Huda Karaman Rosen of Ann Arbor was with Zeitouna ("It means olive tree in Arabic."), a group of Arab and Jewish women "working for peace and justice."
"I'm a Palestinian American and I'm here to call for an end to Israeli occupation and an end to bombing," Rosen said.
A series of feeder marches converged on the Federal Building where marchers then wound through several streets in downtown Ann Arbor before ending up at the University of Michigan Diag for music, speakers and chants by the "Radical Cheerleaders."
Overhead, three planes pulled dueling banners, one of which said "Saddam - Step Down" and another with the message "Protesters promote war - period." Phillis Engelbert, march organizer, quipped they were "enemy planes" and that the "real" plane trailed a peace message.
On the ground, protesters carried signs saying "Where's the proof, Mr. Powell?" and "Use brains, not bombs." Participants used a variety of noisemakers and drums and wore colorful apparel to add a festive air to what started under cloudless skies.
The peace parade, as it was called, was co-sponsored by U-M Anti-War Action! and the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace. Such disparate groups as Geezers for Peace, Circle of Crones and the Metro Detroit Young Communist League were among the endorsers, as well as several local pastors.
Organizers said peaceful alternatives to a war with Iraq include cooperating with the United Nations to find a non-military solution and ratifying international agreements to curtail the funding of terrorism.
It was at the U.N. Security Council that Secretary of State Colin Powell last week laid out the case for the U.S. indictment of Iraq, including purported links to terrorism. Powell's speech combined familiar allegations against Saddam and an unprecedented release of U.S. intelligence information that he said showed Iraq was continuing to manufacture and conceal weapons of mass destruction.
The Bush administration says Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is amassing biological, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons and is a menace to the world who must be disarmed.
Peggy Campbell of Ann Arbor, a teacher at a school in Adrian, said that "we should send Iraq humanitarian aid instead of looking for weapons."
On the feeder march from the People's Food Co-op, several motorists honked their horns and waved as a man with a bullhorn led marchers with "What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!"
At the Diag, marchers were directed into an outline of "the world's largest human peace sign" for an aerial photo.
One of the speakers, Joseph Dulin, principal at Roberto Clemente Student Development Center, reminded the crowd that February is Black History Month and that "for African Americans, peace means more than stop the war.
"For African Americans, peace is a daily effort. It is social justice. It means equal access and affirmative action. Peace for the United States must also come to the African-American community."
Ann Arbor Police reported no incidents during the rally. The crowd was estimated by police officials as about two thousand.
Don Faber can be reached at email@example.com or (734) 994-6858.
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