Day-long peace event culminates in rally, petition to U.S. senators

by Emily Ayshford

Amid drumbeats and chants, approximately 150 students and community members rallied Thursday to protest war against Iraq in honor of National Day of Student Action.

The protesters, accompanied by police cars, marched from Coffman Union down Pleasant Street and University Avenue and across Oak Street until police blocked the route at Oak Street and Washington Avenue.

“I think they didn’t want us to go onto Washington,” said Jessica Sundin, an Anti-War Committee member. Sundin also received a citation for amplifying sound from the Jeep she was driving.

Police were unavailable for comment.

Students marched down Washington Avenue on the sidewalks and streets to end at a rally in the Tate Lab of Physics.

The march and rally were part of “Minnesota Speaks Out for Peace: A Day of Peace and Anti-War Events” sponsored by antiwar groups affiliated with the University.

Nathan Mittelstaedt, one of Students Against War’s founding members, said he hoped events such as this would get students talking and thinking about the war.

The rally included speakers from the Welfare Rights Committee, who encouraged students to keep protesting against the war.

“Stand up, speak out and fight back!” chanted Deb Konechne, a committee member.

Chuck Dollar, a North Hennepin Community College student, said he came to the protest because he disagreed with U.S. intentions in Iraq.

The protest came on the 12th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of the al-Amariyah civilian bomb shelter in Iraq.

The all-day event also created a petition to give to U.S. Sens. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, and Norm Coleman, a Republican. Mittelstaedt said he hoped for at least a couple hundred names on the petition.

“It will at least make them think twice,” Mittelstaedt said.

Alison DeGeus, on English junior and Students Against War member, said although a relatively small percentage of the student body protested, she still believed in the students’ power to effect change.

“The 200 people that show up show not all students are lazy and apathetic,” she said.

Events also included readings of peace and antiwar poetry; a community speak-out in the Rapson Courtyard; a teach-in by Phil Steger, Friends for a Non-Violent World executive director; and a panel discussion featuring members of the U.S. Academics Mission to Iraq.

Sundin said she was pleased with student action at the protest.

“The strength and energy of numbers is one of the most important things that will help stop this war,” she said.

Emily Ayshford welcomes comments at [email protected]