Anti-war rally on campus draws hundreds, blocks traffic

Courtney Lewis

Approximately 250 students blocked traffic on Washington Avenue Southeast on Thursday afternoon during a march in opposition to a war on Iraq.

At the protest’s start approximately 400 students gathered on the steps of Northrop Auditorium. The rally continued down Washington Avenue Southeast and ended at Gateway alumni center.

Two University police officers walking with the crowd didn’t move the group out of the street but told three students trying to stop traffic to stop or they would be arrested.

Protestors placed two cardboard coffins – with pictures of Iraqi children taped to them – outside the Army Recruitment office on Washington Avenue Southeast. Students Against War and Students for Justice in Palestine member Erika Zurawski said the coffins were meant to represent the people who will die if a war begins.

Green Party Senate candidate Ray Tricomo spoke and marched with students, pledging to oppose the war if elected.

“I think this protest today made people more aware and more interested in the anti-war movement,” Zurawski said.

The protest was advertised on flyers last week. Nathan Mittelstaedt, a Students Against War officer and a senior political science major, said he thinks the advanced notice produced the large number of attendees.

“It’s a very pleasant surprise,” Mittelstaedt said about the turnout. “I hope people will realize there are active ways to get involved in their opposition.”

Jeff MacPhail, a College of Liberal Arts junior and Students Against War member, said education about the situation in Iraq is needed. He said he hopes support against the war will grow because of events like Thursday’s protest.

“The only thing that can stop this war is a

movement in masses,” MacPhail said.

He also said people in support of President George W. Bush’s policy should listen to an alternative opinion.

“People might be against us – which is fine – as long as they keep listening,” MacPhail said.

As the protestors continued down the center of Washington Avenue Southeast, protestor Jay Burger was tapped from behind by a car.

“She was on her way to a dentist appointment and didn’t want to be late,” Burger said. “I understand her frustration, but the protest was bigger than that.”

Even though there weren’t any student groups attending in support of Bush’s policy, Mittelstaedt said he hopes people will question the motives for going to war.

Nate Paulsen, a CLA junior and Anti-War Committee member, said many people have the wrong perceptions of Bush’s policy.

“This isn’t a war against terrorism or to seize weapons of mass destruction,” Paulson said. “This has to do with oil and profits.”