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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Peace demonstration draws many

    Alice Hamer throws up the peace sign while she walks in the antiwar march Saturday morning. Hundreds of protesters gathered at the UA Main Gate on University Boulevard and marched east on Speedway Boulevard to the De Anza Park on North Stone Avenue.
    Alice Hamer throws up the peace sign while she walks in the antiwar march Saturday morning. Hundreds of protesters gathered at the UA Main Gate on University Boulevard and marched east on Speedway Boulevard to the De Anza Park on North Stone Avenue.

    More than 400 demonstrators turned out Saturday morning in a peaceful march calling for an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

    Protesters assembled in front of the Arizona State Museum, 1013 E. University Blvd., for a march to De Anza Park, located at the southeast corner of East Speedway Boulevard and North Stone Avenue, where participants listened to live music and impassioned speeches from local elected officials.

    Saturday’s demonstration was sponsored by United for Peace and Justice, a five-year-old coalition of 1,400 groups. Several Tucson organizations, including the Tucson Peace Action Coalition and Coalición de Derechos Humanos, joined in on the effort.

    Carrying signs with slogans ranging from the ubiquitous “”No blood for oil”” to calls for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the marchers were united under one single message, printed in white letters on hundreds of red signs: “”Support the troops, end the war.””

    “”I believe in ending the war,”” said Regina Romero, a Ward 1 Tucson City Council candidate. “”I believe in supporting our troops and bringing them home. I think that’s the best way to support our people and our heroes that are serving.””

    Some marchers also expressed support for Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

    “”I’m marching to help end the war,”” said Tom Racey, Kucinich campaign coordinator for Tucson. “”I’m also showing my support for Dennis Kucinich because he’s the only congressman who has voted consistently against the war in Iraq.””

    Michael Tamarack, a groundskeeper, said, “”I’m marching for an end to insanity.””

    Tamarack said he was not confident that the march would bring any results, adding that he had participated in a number of prior protests against the Iraq war.

    Jody Gibbs, UA alum and Tucson architect, said, “”At the beginning of this war, the government told us that it would cost $50 billion and it was based on weapons of mass destruction. There are no weapons of mass destruction and the war is now estimated to be at $1.9 trillion.””

    Drivers honked in support as the procession snaked down East Speedway Boulevard to De Anza Park. Some protesters played hand drums and small percussion instruments, while others sang and chanted antiwar songs and slogans.

    University of Arizona Police Department officers were at the scene to control traffic and keep the marchers safe and on the sidewalk.

    At De Anza Park, the protesters gathered around a small stage to hear live music from several groups, including Kevin Pakulis, who performed the song, “”You don’t get it,”” for a receptive crowd.

    “”The more we don’t act, the more we pause, the more we talk in circles, the more we put it off, the longer this unjustified war based on lies continues,”” said Congressman Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.

    “”The toll on the American people is not only the death and the blood of our men and women, the toll on civilians, the toll on our national treasure – we cannot fund kids’ insurance for $30 billion, but the president wants $200 billion to continue this war for another six months – how hypocritical, how wrong, how mean-spirited,”” Grijalva said.

    Retired physician Dalton McClelland said, “”I feel very strongly that this country has had a chance to do a lot of good things, and that our president has led us into the wrong decisions many times.

    “”I think it’s absolutely wrong what we have done,”” he said.

    Tucson City Council member Nina Trasoff said, “”This war is a local issue. Every dollar spent over there is a dollar not spent over here.””

    Trasoff drew a spirited round of applause when she suggested that a recent presidential veto of a proposed expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, could only be attributed to a shortage of federal funds caused by the Iraq war.

    “”When you spend hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq, we can’t be spending even $50 billion to add another one million kids to the SCHIP program,”” Trasoff said. “”These are kids from working class families who can’t afford insurance and they’re being cut out because of the hundreds of billions that we’re spending in Iraq.””

    Richard Elias, Pima County District 5 supervisor, said that the injustices of the Bush administration run deeper than the Iraq war, pointing to the war in Darfur and “”the war against immigrants that’s taking place right here in Tucson, Arizona.””

    “”We’re here and we’re opposed to that stupid war that’s killing our kids and countless Iraqis daily, countless Afghanis daily,”” Elias said. “”We’ve got to put an end to it.””

    Isabelle

    The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to control the people, but for the people to control the government.

    -Jack Bybee,
    psychology, creative writing and studio art senior

    Garcia, co-founder and chair of Derechos Humanos, whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a scathing indictment of government contractors including Halliburton, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Wackenhut and Blackwater – companies that she said have taken the U.S. taxpayer for a ride, profiting from the Iraq war and what she called “”the war against immigrants.””

    “”This is not a mismanaged war,”” Garcia said, speaking about Iraq. “”This is an immoral war. It is criminal. It is anti-human.””

    Salette Latas, a Gulf War veteran and candidate for Oro Valley Town Council, lost her son in what she called the “”occupation of Iraq.””

    “”We don’t call it a war,”” she added.

    “”My son, who was trained to be a military truck driver, was actually guarding the truck drivers who were making ten times what he was making and driving for KBR and Halliburton,”” Latas said. “”He was risking his life to haul Styrofoam cups and hamburger buns across the desert to make the world safe for Burger King.

    “”God help us to prevent the next war,”” she said. “”We hope it’s not going to be with Iran.””

    Jennifer Koehnstedt, an English and German studies freshman, marched for peace in general. “”I think protesting one particular war demeans the importance of the other wars out there.””

    Jack Bybee, a psychology, creative writing and studio art senior who grew up under apartheid in South Africa, said it saddened him to see the erosion of civil liberties taking place in the United States.

    “”The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to control the people, but for the people to control the government,”” he said.

    Bybee said he was marching for three main things: the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment. “”All three are threatened by people who have not lived without them.””

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