Demonstrators rally to protest possible war with Iraq
By Laurie Blake
Star Tribune Jananuary 12, 2003
Bundled against the cold, a crowd gathered Saturday in Minneapolis' Uptown area, where they displayed signs, chanted and marched to register their opposition to a possible war against Iraq.
"We are coming out to say no to the threat of war against Iraq," said Jessica Sundin, a member of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee. "We are calling on our government to change course and instead to work for peace."
The protest was organized by the Iraq Peace Action Coalition and supported by Women Against Military Madness, Nurses Against War, the Minnesota Anti-War Committee and CodePink.
Thousands of e-mails, phone calls and leaflets had gone out inviting people to the demonstration. All ages were represented, but it was mostly an adult group.
Organizers said they counted 2,400 people. "We were incredibly impressed with the numbers that turned out," Sundin said. "It was more than we expected in our highest hopes. People's energy was really high."
The protest started about 1 p.m. and lasted about an hour. The group was spirited but controlled and stayed out of the way of traffic until spilling into the street and walking on Hennepin Avenue to Lake Street, then down Lake to Lyndale Avenue.
Many who braved the cold said they felt compelled to show up and send a message to President Bush.
"I think it's important that everybody who is against the war make their voice heard," said Chris Baird of Minneapolis.
"I think that we would end up killing a lot of innocent Iraqis, and an action like that would not separate us very much from the terrorists," she said.
Evan Swanson of Hutchinson said he joined the protests because "I believe we haven't seen proof of weapons of mass destruction. I don't think there's any rush. Let's do everything we can to keep the peace and negotiate."
Said Chris Kujawa of Minneapolis: "I don't want to see violence in Iraq. I think it's unnecessary. I think the sanctions are working. I think the war is about oil and not about the weapons inspections."
John Kohring of Minneapolis said that he opposes a war with Iraq and that he is optimistic that public protest will change minds in Washington.
Public opposition to the war in Vietnam brought that conflict to an end, Kohring said, but the opposition did not take root until after the war was well underway. In the case of an Iraq war, "it's quite remarkable that there is such an outpouring" before it even starts, he said.
Kohring said he thinks protests such as the one Saturday have already had an effect by slowing the juggernaut of war. "Each of us has a responsibility to speak out," he said. "This war is not consistent with our values."
Jessica Miranti of Edina said that after 40 years of working for nonviolence she is becoming cynical and wondering whether she has had any impact at all. But, she said, she was out on the street again Saturday because "I am very concerned about this war with Iraq. I cannot imagine sending my grandsons into battle for purely economic reason."
She added: "I'm here because I want to be counted."
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