Evanston activists ready for New York peace rally

Tristan Arnold

The Daily Northwestern

About 45 members of Neighbors for Peace, including two Northwestern students, plan to protest the possible war in Iraq this weekend at a rally in New York City.

The group, an anti-war organization, will leave by bus from the intersection of Sherman Avenue and Davis Street at 5 p.m. today.

Their journey will culminate Saturday afternoon in a rally five blocks from the United Nations building in Manhattan. United for Peace & Justice, a national coalition of more than 70 regional organizations, spearheaded the New York rally — and 527 others like it slated for Saturday.

“It’s quite an historic (event),” said Amy Kipfer, a Neighbor for Peace member and one of the trip’s organizers. “We’re expecting half a million people.”

Jeff Kane said he learned about the trip from a poster on campus. He said he looks forward to the protest and expects a unique opportunity to spend time with others who share his political views.

“It seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.” said Kane, a Medill sophomore. “This is what Americans are supposed to do.”

After hearing about the event, Kane’s roommate decided to accompany the group to New York. Paul Maa said that he has been involved in protests before but never one that required a full weekend’s commitment.

Before deciding to join the group, Maa, a Weinberg sophomore, called his parents to get their opinions.

“I wasn’t too sure how they’d react,” Maa said. “They were completely gung-ho about it. … My dad said, ‘If I didn’t have to go to work, I would go.'”

Many making the trip are veteran political activists. But Scott Gilbert, a Neighbors for Peace member, said this is the first time the organization has hired a bus to transport members to an event.

Most Evanston participants paid $80 to defer the $4,000 cost of chartering the bus from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning. Scholarships were available for individuals who weren’t able to finance their own trip.

Kipfer said the members had hoped for some time to procure a bus for the trip.

“Every time we go (to out-of-town peace rallies), we think we should just get our own bus,” Kipfer said.

While bus tickets were slow to sell at first, only a few seats were still available less than a day before the departure.

“I really expect we’ll fill up … by departure time tomorrow,” Gilbert said.

Although Neighbors for Peace member Dale Lehman is unable to attend the rally Saturday in New York, he said he went to Washington, D.C., in January to take part in similar protests.

“An overnight bus ride seemed a small price to pay,” Lehman said. “Its not enough just to watch the news and call it a day.”