Anti-war group hosts workshops on politics, war

by Courtney Lewis

The Minneapolis Anti-War Committee held a conference on campus Saturday, aiming to educate the public about its opposition to the war on terrorism.

From noon until 9 p.m., a range of ages, races and backgrounds convened at the Carlson School of Management to hear the committee’s views on the war.

The group organized workshops ranging from “Art and Protest” to “Media Tactics for Activism.” Participants could learn about other countries’ political problems, eat dinner while seeing a cultural presentation and end the day with a panel discussion on the war in Afghanistan.

“We’re trying to make a broad coverage because there’s a lot of concern about the war in Afghanistan, as there should be,” said Jared Cruz, a University clerical employee who volunteers for the Anti-War Committee.

The Minneapolis committee consists of volunteers – students, alumni and community members from the area. Cruz said the local section started in 1997, after members of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador started sections of the Anti-War Committee in the 1980s and early 1990s.

“Going to war is not going to stop terrorism. It’s going to make life miserable for people in Afghanistan, who are already deprived,” Cruz said.

Jarret Spencer, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts, didn’t attend the event Saturday because he said he never heard about it, but he would’ve been interested to hear what was discussed. He said the idea of stopping the war didn’t appeal to him, though.

“I don’t think you can be for or against the war. It’s a very divided issue,” Spencer said.

Activists and professors not affiliated with the group also led discussions and conducted lectures.

Thistle Parker-Hartog, a Minneapolis resident and committee member, said attendance was better than expected.

“Every single conference has been overcrowded,” Parker-Hartog said. “We’ve even had to bring in extra chairs.”

Parker-Hartog joined the group when she moved to Minneapolis after graduating from Carleton College in 1998. She said the goal of the conference was to educate others so “we don’t sound like paranoid ultra-liberals.”

Between workshops, people could have hot cider and a cookie while discussing the situation in Afghanistan and disputing government action. Many people also debated the media’s response to the war.

Erika Zurawski, a CLA freshman committee member, said she learned about the Anti-War Committee from someone in Amnesty International. She said everyone was welcoming and open to her opinions.

“I really think that U.S. foreign policy needs some changes because we’re responsible for killing a lot of people,” Zurawski said. “We’re trying to get people to realize the truth.”

Lesley Barker, a CLA freshman, said she could understand the group’s viewpoint but questioned what action should be taken after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“If we didn’t do anything, what would happen?” Barker asked. “People would feel like they could take advantage of us again.”

Many conference participants were upbeat.

“I’m just thrilled to see so many young people here today,” said Mary Shepard, a member of Women Against Military Madness.