Despite meager resources and an administration-inspired campaign to challenge their patriotism, despite snow in the east, rain in the south and west and cold that rattled the fillings in one’s teeth, Americans in at least 150 cities in all 50 states summoned their creativity and democratic common sense to demonstrate their demand for no war with Iraq.

The weekend of Feb. 15 and 16 was a watershed in the people’s history. The country did not fall in behind the Bush administration’s well-orchestrated drumbeat for war. Instead, millions of Americans stepped off to the beat of a different drummer.

Philadelphia, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago had tens of thousands carrying signs and expressing their opposition to war. But there was also an unprecedented outpouring from small town America, the South and the West.

A summary of the people’s peace actions begins in the Bush family’s base of support, Texas and Florida, and then takes us to the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, all homes for military families and sites for massive military bases. There is a new movement stirring among Americans when millions, unconvinced by Bush’s efforts to justify war with Iraq just up and decide to do something to stop a war before it starts.

Reports are still coming in as we go to press.

AUSTIN, Tex. – “Remember: we’re here in the heart of Texas and the world watches Texas because George Bush used to live in the house over there,” Robert Jensen, University of Texas professor thundered before 7,000 peace marchers jammed in front of the state capital. “Here is Texas, we’re saying ‘no’ to the boy from our hometown.”

DALLAS, Tex. – Unity for peace brought 5,000 residents from all walks of life onto Dallas streets, redefining the identity of this oil corporation and weapons manufacturer- dominated city. Marcher Chase Sondecker, 16, a high school student, locked arms with Virginia Abdo, 68 a retired teacher. Sondecker held up a sign saying, “All Hail King George II.” Virginia Barnett, a graphics technician, was among the peace protesters. “Bush wants a pre-emptive war and we’ve never had a pre-emptive war in the history of our country. That’s not who we are!” she exclaimed.

HOUSTON, Tex. – Local police said that the 3,000 residents who took to the streets for peace was the largest demonstration, over any issue, in their memory. Oil corporations’ profits and the cost in U.S. soldiers’ blood and Iraqi people’s deaths are not moral, marchers proclaimed.

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. – From the windows of skyscrapers, workers waved and shouted peace slogans to the 1,500 marchers who wound their way through the city.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. – Over 500 people stepped off behind the banner “Peace is Possible”. “I’m not willing to trade my life for oil,” said David Fuqua, 17.

GALVESTON, Tex. – Dr. Martin Luther King’s words rang out across a rally of nearly 300. Rally organizer Mark Muhich, a local artist, added, “This (war) is the worst possible solution to centuries old problems in the Mideast.” Galveston County Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Ellen Brennan added her voice, “The president went on national television and called other nations that have always been our allies, cowards for not supporting his ill-advised and ego-driven march to war.”

MIAMI, Fla. – Floridians marched in 20 cities, including 500 demonstrators in Miami alone. Many demonstrations were spontaneous: 200 neighbors jammed the busy corner of Flamingo and Sunrise Boulevards. “The American flag should be for peace not the domination of a small country like Iraq,” said Irv Horowitz. “This is like Charles Barkley playing basketball against a two-year-old.”

JACKSON, OXFORD, STARKVILLE, BILOXI and HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Residents on street corners with signs for peace were answered with motorists honking support and the two-finger ‘V’ peace signs.

RALEIGH, N.C. – More than 7,000 residents rallied at the state capital demanding “Money for Jobs and Education, Not for War and Occupation.” Zuzu Feller, 7, stood with four generations of her family, including her grandfather, a World War II veteran in a wheelchair, calling for peace.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – the city council voted 8 to 1 to “exhaust all diplomatic means,” allow the UN inspectors to complete their work and work with European allies to head off war with Iraq.

ASHVILLE, N.C. – The largest contingents of the 2,000 demonstrators lined up behind the “Baptists for Peace” banner. “Support our soldiers, bring’em home,” said Korean War veteran Rich Taylor.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A group of textile enthusiasts held a 24-hour “knit-in” at a local gallery.

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Two hundred people showed up when Amelia Cook and her friends at the Sentint Coffee Bean Shop put out the word to “Rock for Peace.” Cook has friends in the military awaiting deployment to the Middle East. “We want to find an alternative to this war,” she said.

DECATUR, Ga. – In a roving rally, 250 protesters gathered at six different locations, covering sidewalks across the city.

COLUMBIA, Missouri – The Roger B. Boone County Government Center saw standing room only as 1,000 residents discussed and rejected war with Iraq.

LAWRENCE, Kans. – Here in Lawrence and nearby Newton, residents with hand-made signs rallied to stop a war before it starts.
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – One of 700 demonstrators, Gusti Newquist held up her sign, “Peace is Patriotic.” She said, “I have friends in the military, friends who have just recently been called up. We support our troops but the best way to support them is not to put them in an immoral situation.”

PORTLAND, Maine – A temperature of 6 degrees below zero didn’t stop 1,000 Mainers from rallying in the streets here.

Falmouth, Kezer, Falls, Gardiner, Augusta, Farmington, Waterville, Bangor, Ellsworth, Lincolnville, Clinton, Calais, Saco, Topsham, Bath, Wiscasset, Damariscotti, Rockland, and Belfest, Maine – Residents gathered together to line the bridges of their towns in support of the call to stop the war on Iraq.

BALTIMORE, Md. – Amid the worst snowstorm in years, hundreds marched from Camden Yards to City Hall to St. Vincent de Paul Church. A priest at the church welcomed the snow-covered crowd inside the church for coffee and a warm up.

PULLMAN, Wash. – This eastern Washington community has only 40,000 residents, but 1,500 showed up to demonstrate their demands for an alternative to war with Iraq.

Moscow, Idaho – 350 were in the streets of Idaho’s capital calling for peace.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It was word of mouth that brought out 500 in front of the Wallace Bennett Federal Building. Paul Brennan, a teacher at the Community College, joined the crowd with his mother and 9-year-old son. “This country is letting down its own principles by exporting war,” he said. “I am here for my child and my students.”

Darren Smith is an army reservist who took his lunch hour off from military training and joined the rally in full camouflage. This [war] seems to be about economic gain and I’m against it,” said Smith.

SANTA FE, N.M. – State Representative Miguel Garcia used Valentine’s Day to kick off an anti-war weekend when he introduced a Memorial in the State Legislature calling for peace. It passed and the next day, 7,500 marched in the state capital to “Support our Troops, Bring Them Home.” It was the largest peace demonstration in the city’s history.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Desert Albuquerque may not have tree lawns, but signs are sprouting up all over the city saying, “No War Against Iraq.”

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Five thousand took to the streets here against the Bush administration war policies.

BISBEE and BENSON Ariz. – Two hundred marched in Bisbee, and in Benson, 40 residents joined to make history in this small town’s first-ever peace demonstration.

TUCSON, Ariz. – At 50 gas stations across the city, protestors holding “No Blood for Oil” signs were greeted with honks of solidarity from motorists, many of who stopped to talk.

Compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards. John Lane, Rose Shaw, Joe Bernick and Roberto Botello contributed to this report.

Due to the overwhelming volume of reports reaching our news desk, coverage of local peace events for the Feb. 15-16 weekend will continue in next week’s edition.


CONTRIBUTOR

Comments

comments

MOST POPULAR