War anniversary sparks protest at U

by Liala Helal

A large gathering of students and others protested the ongoing war in Iraq on Wednesday, saying the U.S. occupation must end now.

Approximately 100 people attended the event that marked the two-year anniversary of the start of the war, March 20, 2003.

Gulf War veteran Chante Wolf was one of several speakers at the protest, arguing the war in Iraq goes against all U.S. values and the U.S. Constitution, and is “a horrible misuse and abuse of our troops.”

“This is an illegal, unethical and immoral occupation,” Wolf said. “I do not find liberating people to death a very liberating value.”

The 12-year U.S. Air Force veteran also encouraged protesters to welcome the troops home and enlist in the Marines.

“You can stand there all you want with your signs, but unless you are willing to walk the walk and talk the talk, don’t you dare call any of us (troops) unpatriotic,” he said.

Several other speakers addressed the crowd of protesters, who carried signs with such slogans as “Support the troops: Bring them home,” “Occupation is not liberation” and “Human rights are NOT optional.”

University Student Erika Zurawski, an Anti-War Organizing League officer, called the war unjust and about U.S. influence in the Middle Eastern countries’ resources, such as oil.

“We feel that we have a moral responsibility as students and taxpayers to stand up and say that we are fed up with the spending on war and domination,” she said.

Tony Richter, the College Republicans vice chairman, who did not attend the protest, said anti-war protesters should think again about their opinions of the war.

“I think it’s an incredibly selfish viewpoint that somehow liberation is a negative thing,” Richter said.

He said the protesters were “hypocritical” because they wouldn’t have their right to protest and freedoms without a military protecting their rights.

After protesting on Northrop Plaza, the participants marched to the west pedestrian bridge over Washington Avenue Southeast, held their signs high up in the air and continued to chant slogans, such as “We are what democracy looks like, Bush is what hypocrisy looks like” and “Money for schools, not for war.”

Several cars honked in support. The banner hung over the bridge read, “End occupation, U.S. out of Iraq.”

Former clerical worker Jared Cruz stood on the bridge, carrying his 6-month-old daughter to protest the war. He said he felt it was important for people to show they oppose the war.

Chanting, “What do we want? U.S. out! When do we want it? Now!” protesters marched into Coffman Union and caught hundreds of students’ attention.

The protesters chanted as they made their way downstairs to the food court, where many people were eating lunch.

Students in the building watched, ignored, smiled or even laughed while the protesters moved through the building.

James Bourque, a University student and Anti-War Organizing League officer, told the protesters he had several cousins and friends in Iraq right now and wants U.S. troops to come home.

“This isn’t something that we are detached from,” he said. “I feel a need to oppose this ongoing injustice to the Iraqi people as well as to the American people.”

University police showed up outside Coffman Union, in case the protest turned violent.

Brandon Madsen, a senior at Bloomington Kennedy High School, spoke against military recruitment efforts. He said his classmates discussed “lies of Bush and the military recruiters” until the recruiters stopped coming to his school.

“I just feel like young people especially need to get involved and show opposition to the war,” Madsen said. “We need to tell the military, ‘You are not welcome in our schools.’ “