St. Paul City Council urges peace, multilateralism in Iraq

St. Paul joins Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore, Detroit – and Ely, Minn., – in advocating peace.

Emily Johns

The St. Paul City Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday urging a peaceful, multilateral approach to Iraq, after rejecting a resolution that would have explicitly condemned a war.

The failed resolution, by City Council member Jay Benanav, supported Americans in the armed forces but opposed military action against Iraq and urged President George W. Bush to consider peaceful solutions.

Council member Chris Coleman’s successful resolution encouraged the president and Congress to “work with the United Nations to define an appropriate multilateral response” and called for “prayers for peace and international reconciliation.”

The resolution does not take an explicit stand against military action.

Less than one month ago, the Minneapolis City Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee rejected a resolution asking the council to declare that the city “opposes the use of pre-emptive military force to overthrow the government of Iraq and encourages the federal government to actively pursue nonviolent alternatives to war.”

The committee decided the resolution was beyond the city government’s scope because it dealt with federal government policy.

Council member Dean Zimmermann, who co-sponsored the Minneapolis resolution, said even though a possible war is not under a city council’s direct jurisdiction, the war would adversely affect the city.

“It is taking resources away from the cities, from the real needs of people here,” Zimmermann said.

“This is probably a move that will weaken U.S. influence in the world, since it will create more and more hostility towards our country. That will have an adverse effect on the quality of life of our citizens,” he said.

Nance Longley, a publications designer for the College of Education and Human Development, said it is important to let the government know how its citizens feel about the potential war.

Longley is a member of St. Anthony Park Neighbors for Peace, a neighborhood group in Benanav’s district that opposes the war on Iraq. She said Benanav was inspired by other cities across the country that passed antiwar resolutions, such as Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore and Detroit.

Ely is the only Minnesota city to pass an antiwar resolution.

“It’s just another way to send a message to Washington,” Longley said.

Several groups within the University community are also appealing to legislators and the Bush administration to question a war in Iraq.

Bud McClure, a professor at the University’s Duluth campus, is a member of UMD Faculty Against War. The group is comprised of more than 90 staff and faculty members and has distributed signs, made phone calls and planned protests.

Although McClure said he knows some Duluth faculty and staff disagree with the group’s position, everybody is supportive of the right to have their voices heard.

“In the months we’ve been in operation here, I haven’t had one adverse comment from any faculty across campus,” McClure said. “Not one phone call, not one e-mail. There are a lot of people who are very sympathetic to what we’re doing here on campus.”

The group participated in an

antiwar protest in Duluth on Jan. 25, which was the largest public protest of any kind in Duluth’s history, McClure said, drawing more than 2,500 people.

On Feb. 28, the group is sponsoring a concert in UMD’s new Weber Music Hall to benefit Iraqi children.

Emily Johns covers politics and welcomes comments at [email protected]