Anti-war demonstration protests U.S. airstrikes, calls for peace

Brad Unangst

About 600 Protestors of the U.S.-led attacks in Afghanistan gathered outside the Federal Courts Building on Monday, marching, chanting and speaking against the strikes.

“I think that what drives most of us to be here is the sense that the grievous loss that was experienced on Sept. 11 – that wrong will not be righted by the taking of innocent life or the firing of cruise missiles,” said Kathleen Remund, 42, of Minneapolis. “Protests are limited in what they can accomplish, but they do allow us to speak out, to show that we have a viewpoint that’s different than the dominant one.”

The protest, organized by Students Against War, the Anti-War Committee, and Women Against Military Madness, is the third protest against U.S. military action in front of the federal building since Sept. 11.

Most protesters marched along Fourth Street to a steady drum beat produced by buckets and garbage can tops. They carried anti-war picket signs and shouted chants such as “hands off Afghanistan, hands off the world.”

About an hour later, the protest moved to the front of the federal building, where members of various organizations spoke.

April Knutson, a WAMM member, questioned Attorney General John Ashcroft’s policies on monitoring Internet messages and e-mails.

“We are asserting our rights to dissent, but we have to watch out for all of our other rights too,” she said. “We right now have to fight for our civil liberties as well as fight for peace.”

Soraya Amra, of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, urged protesters to write their members of Congress.

“Making more victims will not make peace,” she said. “We do not want to mourn for any more civilians; we do not want to mourn for the deaths of innocent Afghans.”

The protest was peaceful with one exception. About halfway through one speech, a man passed behind a speaker yelling, “They’re trying to kill us, you morons.”

As security guards approached the man, he threw his arms in the air and started to run away. The guards tackled the man, handcuffed him and brought him into the federal building.

“I don’t know why they tackled him, but his freedom of speech was trampled because he disagreed with us,” said Minneapolis resident Kris Robison, who was standing nearby. Robison said the man didn’t appear to be a threat.

Cyndi Montgomery, spokeswoman for the Minneapolis Police Department, said although the city was under heightened security, police officers would not treat war protests any differently than before.

Montgomery said police would treat the protest routinely, “how we treat any other protest – unless it changes into criminal activity.”

Maria Anderson, co-founder of Students Against War, a group of students from area colleges including the University, said the event had been planned since shortly after Sept. 11 in anticipation of U.S. retaliation.

She said the location and rush-hour traffic gave protesters the most possible visibility.

 

Tim Sturrock welcomes comments at [email protected]