More than 2,000 people took to the streets of Ann Arbor yesterday to voice concern and support for the war in Iraq. The rallies began in the Diag and grew as they moved to the Ann Arbor Federal Building on the corner of Fifth and Liberty streets.
Students on the Diag divided themselves into two distinct groups – those who were opposed to war gathered near the steps of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, while those who supported using military force in Iraq gathered toward the back of the Diag.
A dozen student groups sponsored the rally in opposition to the war. The rally included speakers from the Black Student Union, Muslim Students Association and the Michigan Student Assembly as well as a drumming rally. “We’re just protesting the war,” LSA junior Lena Masri, a rally organizer and member of the Muslim Students Association, Anti-War Action! and Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, said. “Iraq is only one part (of this war). Bush explicitly said this war is going to go on to other places.”
Students supporting military action in Iraq held American flags and expressed support for U.S. troops in Iraq. “We’re going to sit here solemnly and somberly to show solidarity for our troops,” rally organizer and Michigan Review Managing Editor Ruben Duran said.
Although no violent incidents were reported, the rallies displayed increasing tensions between those in support and those opposed to the current war.
LSA sophomore and Anti-War Action! member Megan Williamson stepped in to ease tensions between a group of arguing protesters.
She said she was not surprised that conflict broke out during the past week.
“We anticipated that there might be some interferences from the counter-protesters, but actually we were expecting them to be more respectful,” she said.