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Protesters push for peace over possible war in Iraq

Miki Johnson

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When an anti-war activist shouted “What do we want?” to students gathered around the steps of Deering Library Friday, the vast majority yelled back “Peace.”

But a small group of students standing on the other side of the sidewalk listened silently to the questions and held their signs supporting military action in Iraq a little higher.

Anti-war organizers originally planned to hold the rally at The Rock. But members of the Northwestern crew team, who had already reserved the area, complained that the protest would interfere with their row-a-thon.

Rally organizers decided to start at Deering Meadow instead and then lead supporters through campus to The Arch.

Although the rally coincided with the end of Northwestern Opposing War and Racism’s Peace Week, it was not affiliated with NOWAR or its umbrella organization, Peace Project.

Naureen Shah, one of the protest’s organizers, estimated the rally lost about 50 students because of the move but said she still was pleased with the turn-out.

More than 100 students gathered around the library’s steps to hear students and professors criticize the Bush administration’s policies in the Middle East, which they said are “unsupported.”

“We don’t think there’s been a democratic dialogue with what Bush wants to do in Iraq,” said Desiree Evans, a Medill senior who spoke at the protest.

“He should know that he has to be open enough to listen to people here and abroad before he risks people’s lives.”

About 10 minutes after the anti-war rally began, it’s “peace drums” were interrupted by music from a stereo carried by one of about 20 students showing support for Bush’s decisions.

Several of the pro-action protesters said the United States’ main responsibility in the Middle East is to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

“We’re not pro-war, we are pro-taking military action against Iraq,” said Chris Mioton, a Weinberg freshman carrying a sign reading: “When has Jimmy Carter been right about anything?”

Several of the pro-action protesters said the United States’ main responsibility in the Middle East is to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

“He has a history of killing his people,” said Karl Zimmerman, who organized the pro-action protest. “Saddam shouldn’t be able to stay in power, and I think war is the only way to remove him.”

Mateo Hinojosa, one of the anti-war organizers, voiced his opposition to Zimmerman’s stance over the bull horn.

“(Iraqis) are not dying because of Saddam Hussein, they are dying because of our policies,” Hinojosa, a Weinberg sophomore, told the crowd.

Dave Weigel, editor of The Northwestern Chronicle, echoed Zimmerman’s goal in a brief speech to the anti-war protesters.

“We wanted to show that we can read the same information you do and come to different conclusions,” said Weigel, a Medill junior.

The anti-war protesters applauded Weigel’s speech, and one student carrying an anti-war banner, Elaine Kanak, said she “respect(s) the pro-war contingent more than the apathetic students” at NU.

“Apathy is unacceptable,” said Kanak, a Music senior. “It is every citizen’s responsibility to know what our government is doing … and to take action against that if we disagree.”

But Shah said she thinks NU students are less apathetic than simply busy.

Students who “just don’t have time” to attend anti-war protests can show their support by signing a petition asking Associated Student Government to support a resolution condemning war in Iraq.

The petition, which already has over 1,000 online and written signatures, will be presented to ASG Wednesday, when the resolution will be introduced.