DETROIT (AP) — In the midst of escalating tensions and the possibility of a U.S.-led war with Iraq, hundreds of people gathered Saturday in Detroit to sing, shout, cry and call for peace.
Braving frigid temperatures and whipping winds, about 2,000 protesters marched through downtown toting signs and raising their voices.
Rally organizer Kris Hamel of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against the War on Iraq, said a U.S.-led attack would be unjust. She passed out fliers and encouraged others to speak up against a possible war with Iraq.
“We need to leave Iraq alone,” Hamel said.
Hundreds of demonstrators not belonging to Hamel’s organization showed up on their own accord.
Patrick Corth of Southfield came to the rally to call for a peaceful solution. He said Saddam Hussein is a threat, but Corth said he didn’t want to see troops in the Gulf.
“Saddam Hussein is an evil man, but we shouldn’t kill his people or our people in the process. This will feed the mentality that we are in a crusade against Muslims.”
Through the afternoon, many chanted “Give peace a chance” or “Bush’s war has got to go.” The anti-Bush sentiment ran high among protesters who didn’t spare an opportunity to denounce the president or his administration’s actions.
“I think he’s a warmonger and a bully,” said Stephanie O’Laoire, 30, of Lincoln Park. “He’s trying to finish the work his dad left behind. He’s got `dad issues.'”
Many of the protesters were first-timers, but many others have been protesting the possibility of a war with Iraq for several weeks.
Jillian Stelma, a high school student from Grosse Pointe, said Saturday’s rally was one of several she’s attended.
“It’s stupid that (Bush) wants to play G.I. Joe with our troops,” she said.
Protesters gathered at Beaumont Tower on the Michigan State University campus and marched to the State Capitol in nearby Lansing for a peace rally.
Another rally, this one in support of Bush and his administration’s policies toward Iraq, also was held Saturday on the Michigan State campus. Some participants held a counter-demonstration during the anti-war rally at the Capitol.
Jason Miller, president of the East Lansing’s school’s chapter of College Republicans, said the group wanted to show there are those “who do support efforts to disarm the dictator for the safety of America, the region and the world. We wanted to send the message that left-wing radicals do not represent the average American.”
In many major cities around the world, anti-war protests drew hundreds of thousands of people in their opposition to a threatened U.S.-led strike. London saw one of the largest marches for peace.
Anti-war activists hoped to draw 100,000 people to the streets in New York City for a protest near the United Nations.