Phoenix participates in worldwide anti-war protests

Millions rally globally opposing a pre-emptive strike against Iraq

 by Ilan Brat
 published on Monday, February 17, 2003

An estimated 2,500 people marched in Phoenix on Saturday to protest a possible war with Iraq. The protest rally began in Patriotsí Square Park and moved through the streets of downtown Phoenix.

Police officers clad in riot gear lined up shoulder-to-shoulder across the north side of an intersection in downtown Phoenix on Saturday.

At least 50 college-aged people were dancing to tribal drumbeats in the center of Washington and First Streets. They chanted, "This is what democracy looks like" and "No war in Iraq, party in the streets," in the midday heat.

As a man from the group yelled at the police, reminding them that women and children were in the crowd behind him, the officers stepped forward, simultaneously raising their shields.

More than 2,500 people, including ASU students and professors, colored Patriots' Square Park with signs and bandannas displaying anti-war sentiments during the "No War in Iraq Rally and March."

Millions of protesters across the globe synchronized their peace demonstrations on Saturday; an estimated 400,000 gathered in New York and 750,000 in London.

The tone of these worldwide protests is largely critical of President George W. Bush and his move for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.

"I'm very upset about the war. I have a son who's 21," said ASU education professor Karen Anijar, standing next to her son, ASU political science junior Josh Anijar. He was a holding a sign that read, "Killing for peace is like fucking for virginity."

"I'm appalled that we're attacking a country that never attacked us, and we're not even sure [if Iraq will]," she said.

Rally participant Jack Cohen-Joppa, 46, said a U.S.-led war with Iraq would have unintended consequences for the United Nations and America.

"We have a responsibility to stop our government from destroying the international order by aggressive war," Cohen-Joppa said. "For the last century, we have struggled to find ways for nations to get along and solve conflicts without warfare. And a war on Iraq will destroy that century of effort."

At the rally's start, speakers denounced a pre-emptive U.S. strike on Iraq as morally bankrupt to a large crowd displaying signs including, "Don't let Bush terrorize you - Iraq is not your enemy," "The best cure for war fever is sanity" and "Patriotism isn't blind, question authority."

"[The Bible] doesn't say 'Thou shall not kill 'comma' for revenge or to protect natural resources," speaker Scott Ritchey emphatically said. "It simply says 'Thou shall not kill, 'period.'"

As the dense crowd shuffled onto the streets for the march with passing cars honking in support, the marchers passed a small counter-protest of about 40 people holding American flags and signs reading, "Stars and stripes forever" and "First Iraq then France."

"I'm trying to show [the marchers] that I'm not pro-war," said Christina Corieri, counter-rally organizer and vice chairwoman of the ASU College Republicans. "I'm supporting international law. There's no use in having international law unless it's enforced."

Meredith Quade, a French language freshman, said she hoped counter-demonstrating would attract mainstream media attention to underrepresented pro-war supporters.

"If you're going to be an American, you have to be willing to defend your freedoms," Quade said.

The rally lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Musical guests entertained the participants, who varied from senior citizens to toddlers. After the last band closed out the demonstration, rally organizer Kyrsten Sinema wished the participants well.

"Let peace rule," Sinema said.

Tony Ash, an inter-media design junior, said he was pleased with the turnout.

"It's a fantastic display of the Phoenix metro area's dissent against Bush and the possible war," he said.

While more than 100 police officers patrolled the Phoenix rally to maintain order, only six people were arrested, according to the Phoenix police.

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