In response to requests from local residents, the Ann Arbor Committee for Peace held a march of protest Saturday against the possibility of an upcoming war with Iraq. The march started at 10 a.m. in Sculpture Plaza at the corner of Catherine Street and Fourth Avenue. It then moved across Ann Street, down North and South Division and finally over to the Diag. One member of the peace committee counted 917 people leaving the plaza.
The march in Ann Arbor was one of many anti-war marches that took place around the world in other cities such as Washington D.C., San Francisco, and cities in Japan, Spain, South Korea, Belgium and Australia.
“The best thing to come out of the march … is that people will see that we are not speaking with one voice, as President Bush said, but that we are many voices,” Susan Camino, a member of AACP’s steering committee said. “Voicing an opinion against war and for peace is not un-American, but patriotic and a civic duty.”
Phillis Engelbert, spokeswoman for the peace committee added, “The congressional vote has a lot of people worried. … More people are opposed to Iraq than Afghanistan because it’s out of the blue – there’s no Sept. 11 behind it. A lot of people are truly frightened about what’s in store if we go to war with Iraq.”
Toby Jayaratne, an Ann Arbor resident since 1970, said she attended because of her “strong conviction that we are heading down a dangerous path of war and other injustices.”
“(Bush) wants to divert domestic issues and increase Republican support during elections,” she added. “If we want to stop terrorism, we really need to address the injustices in the world. It breeds hatred.”
There seemed to be a variety of different reasons for protesting the war.
“This is to support the Iraqi people. It’s important for Muslims to support Iraqi people,” Ann Arbor resident Mahmoud Habeel said. “From my side it’s obvious there are two reasons for fighting Iraq – oil and long-term protection of Israel.”
Aladin Abraham, who attended the rally with Habeel, added, “When it comes to the Mid-East, the capital isn’t Washington, it’s Tel-Aviv.”
There were a plethora of speakers and performers including Congresswoman Lynn Rivers (D-Ann Arbor) and members of the band Funktelligence.
“I stand for peace rather than war,” Rivers said. “Will I stand for spending $200 billion on this folly or will I use that money to educate the American people?”
When everything was said and done, the organizers said they felt satisfied with attendance, conduct and impact of the march. They stressed the impetus for the march didn’t come from them, but the community.
“People who were not activists themselves were calling us and asking if we were going to march,” Camino said. “This tells me that we have a large mainstream base.”