Voices arguing against the nation’s movement toward war found a sympathetic audience at the Ann Arbor City Council meeting last night. Joining 21 other cities, including Washington and Detroit, the council voted 7-1 in favor of a resolution against war with Iraq.

Paul Wong
Ann Arbor resident Bill Thompson speaks in support of an anti-war resolution yesterday at the City Council meeting. The resolution was later passed.

Councilwoman Heidi Cowing Herrell (D-3rd Ward) pitched the proposed resolution as a means to support local representatives in higher government who oppose the war.

“This is a question that concerns the whole nation,” she said. “If we go to war there will be economic impacts on our community. There will be members of our community who will serve in the armed forces.”

The City Council received a large audience – a couple hundred community members – for the vote. Attendees filled every spot on the benches, parading signs of protest against the progression toward war. Several participants presented arguments decrying the possibility of war, urging the council to take action.

Stephen Boyce, an Ann Arbor resident who said he participated in the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the war on drugs, described the senselessness of initiating a conflict with Iraq. “I’ve come to the humble conclusion that the whole foul lump is not worth the life of a single American citizen,” he said. “There is nothing in this war that will help our people. There is nothing in this war that will expand our democracy.”

The new resolution presents several reasons for averting war, such as the loss of life on both sides of the conflict, the diversion of local tax money outside the community, the potential change in national policy toward preemptive strikes in other cases and the opposition presented by Ann Arbor’s elected officials in Congress.

“It is the people who are not in agreement at this time that we are trying to convince and the majority of (those who serve in) Congress that did not oppose unilateral action,” Herrell said.

Most council members, including Margie Teall (D-4th Ward), expressed an emphatic approval of the resolution.

“These are voices that need to be heard, and if we can be that avenue, I encourage it and support it,” she said.

Joan Lowenstein (D-2nd Ward) supported the proposal, but cautioned against continued resolutions regarding national policy. “I think the City Council can provide moral support in resolution,” she said. “But our power to use resolution should be used sparingly.”

Mike Reid (R-2nd Ward), who cast the lone dissenting vote opposing the resolution, said Iraq presents too significant a problem for the federal government to leave unchecked.

“We would be remiss if we expect actions in Iraq and the export of terrorism has not affected our day-to-day lives,” he said. “If we yield to the temptation of picking out one issue here, we will fall into the problem of addressing all of them.”

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