Worldwide protest of war hits home

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By Vanessa D. Overbeck & Daniel Flores-Guadiana


By Vanessa D. Overbeck & Daniel Flores-Guadiana

A weathered man in a tattered black coat pushed a shopping cart listlessly through a boisterous crowd, which chimed together “No blood for oil, U.S. off Iraqi soil.” The wet cement sidewalk in front of University Village on March 18 was full of Riverside area residents using cardboard posters to shield their faces from the rain. Signs reading “How many lives per gallon” and “Iraq: Arabic for Vietnam” graced the wet group. Riverside Area Peace Justice Action, a coalition of concerned citizens, organized the event to call for an end to the war and the occupation of Iraq. Wearing matching white sweatshirts and sharing a broad umbrella, spouses of 22 years Jack and Bruni Adams stood along Iowa Avenue chanting anti-war slogans with more vigor than their younger counterparts. Bruni Adams, remembering her youth in Germany during World War II said, “I’m against war, period. When I first heard we were invading, I knew this would be another Vietnam. We’re just not good at fighting that kind of war.”Jack Adams, with his arm around his wife sadly said, “In this day and age there should be no “A lot of kids at my school aren’t interested in politics,” said North High School sophomore, Elaine Cook. “They think it’s boring because it’s not going on right here. My parents aren’t into it, either. But I read a lot and go on the Internet because I think it’s important.””This war is unjust,” said RCC student, Rosie Lopez. “It disrupted a people trying to build themselves up. It’s mass murder.”Her son, Aitzin, 6, held tightly to her leg while grasping a protest sign in his left hand that dwarfed his small figure. “My son needs to know the truth about what’s going on. This is his future. This is being done in his name,” Lopez said. Hundreds of drivers passing through the busy intersection honked encouragingly and flashed peace signs while others were less supportive. Some even “flipped off” the demonstrators. Two soldiers in fatigues driving a large, white truck paused at the corner to yell, “We’re fighting for your freedom.” RCC astronomy instructor Steve Schuh helped organize the event in Riverside and acted as a peacekeeper, as well as attended the larger gathering in Los Angeles. The mass march and rally, which began at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, marked the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Schuh was happy with the turnout at both of the war protests. More than 100 people attended the Riverside event and more than 10,000 joined the protest in Los Angeles.”Of course, I would like to see thousands in Riverside and hundreds of thousands in L.A. and I’d like to see us change this society,” Schuh said. “But this is a long- term thing, and it’s going to have to build like it did during the Vietnam War.” Mimes in chalky, white body paint scattered ash while ominously parading down the normally busy street, and American Indian dancers stepped to the beat of war drums behind them. Thousands of marchers followed carrying elaborately decorated banners touting such slogans as “Bush = War” and “You’ve hijacked Christianity and God holds you accountable.” One protestor even stopped to berate police officers for standing on the sidelines. “You should take off your uniforms and join us,” he said. “You support the man!”Mary Castro, the mother of a military family, stood with a large photo of her son, Jonathon, who was killed this past Christmas while serving in Iraq. “My whole family was destroyed,” Castro said. “I never dreamed I would find myself at a protest, but I couldn’t justify risking my children’s lives for an immoral war.”Speakers at the rally ranged from politicians to veterans, as well as representatives from the Answer Coalition. “I like seeing the number of Iraqi war veterans and military parents who oppose the war. To me that shows a profound disillusionment with this war,” Schuh said.Although thousands of marchers flooded the rain drenched streets, few bystanders braved the showers to witness their passing. The demonstration was viewed more through the lenses of media cameras than through the eyes of onlookers. As the crowd ebbed from the previously overflowing streets all that remained behind it were scraps of signs and pamphlets.

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