Ann Arbor residents and University students linked up with famous activist Alan Haber yesterday afternoon, forming a human chain for peace in West Park.
Haber, a University alum and lifelong Ann Arbor resident, founded Students for a Democratic Society in 1959. The group garnered nationwide attention in the 1960s for its movements against the Vietnam War, racism, poverty and imperialism. Even after several decades, Haber is keeping activism alive today with events such as the human chain.
Yesterday’s chain was the sixth Haber has organized since 2002. He got the idea during a trip to Jerusalem three years ago when he heard of a human chain linking Israelis and Palestinians.
Haber said that there was a similar separation of communities in Ann Arbor, and he has been using hand-to-hand connections ever since to create a culture of peace and nonviolence in the city and around the world.
“The world is full of struggle and people trying to find their freedom,” Haber said. “All of us can do something to make peace in the world.”
From about 2 to 3 p.m. approximately 30 participants in the ring shared their thoughts on their opposition to war in Iraq and the need to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Rich Birkett, the primary author of last fall’s successful Proposal C, which legalized medicinal marijuana in Ann Arbor, spoke about the parallels between the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq.
He said it was notable that both wars were started under false pretenses. But the causes for the wars were only discovered when the America was too far into the war.
Hello Faz Pizza co-sponsored the event, which included a small speech by owner Faz Hussain. Hussain said supporting an event for peace was very important to him because it is an idea that he believes in strongly.
“We do need peace,” Hussain said. “Simple people like us can do something – let’s not kill, let’s work with our fellow human being.”
Also sponsoring the event was the Megiddo Peace Project, which Haber founded.
The project is aiming to stage a two-week “International Art for Peace Festival” using Haber’s carpentry and other art and music. Haber created the group with his wife, Odile Hugonot Haber.
“The Megiddo Project is a continuation of (Students for a Democratic Society),” Haber said.
Haber added that there needs to be an SDS on campus today so that students “are learning how to transform their society.”