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Sunday, November 07, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
War-protest crowd ranges from babies to "grannies"
By Judy Chia Hui Hsu
The rain fell softly as protesters marched through the streets of downtown Seattle yesterday, yelling, chanting and singing to demand an end to the war in Iraq .
Some shouted, "Peace! Now!" while others screamed, "More money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!"
Police estimated more than 500 protesters participated in the march and rally sponsored by Not in Our Name, a national peace organization.
The demonstration was peaceful, and there were no arrests. The protesters were escorted by about 20 police officers on bicycles.
The organization was formed shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, "to oppose war, attacks on immigrants and civil-rights restrictions in the name of the war on terrorism," said Margo Heights, a representative of Not in our Name.
She spoke passionately at a rally at Westlake Park before leading demonstrators to the Federal Building.
"I'm here to make it clear that Bush does not have a mandate for his whole program of repression," she said. "And together with other people, we will carve out a way to stop the war and stop the direction of this whole course."
People need to get a sense of their power, Heights added: "It's important to remember that the Vietnam War ended in the term of a war president because of a combination of the Vietnam people and the movement here in this country. We also feel strongly about not letting a generation of youth be sent to kill."
Lt. Cmdr. John Oliveira, 39, a bartender from Darrington and an inactive Navy reservist, served in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2002 and in Iraq last year. He said he resigned after 16½ years on active duty because he started to question why the United States was going into Iraq.
"It's pretty baffling that Iraq is more unsecure today under our leadership than under a dictatorship," said Oliveira, a former public-affairs officer.
"We failed to make the commitment to the peace process," Oliveira said. Unlike the aftermath of World War II, when the United States directed a great deal of money and manpower to the peace effort, he contended, it "is not making that kind of commitment to Afghanistan or Iraq."
Oliveira said he had a difficult time with his job.
"I had to stand in front of the American people every day and tell them how important the Iraq mission was when I didn't believe in any of it," he said. "If we're going to put American lives on the line, it needs to be for something worthwhile."
Rachel Hooton, 24, of Seattle, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, wearing a greenish mask with blood splattered on its left side and a tear falling from its right eye. On a homemade torch, Hooton wrote, "Give Us Back Our Constitution."
Hooton said the Patriot Act has taken away civil rights. "We're fighting for civil liberties because that's part of the Constitution," she said.
Her friend Sharon Mattox, 35, of Bonney Lake, Pierce County, also said they were afraid that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 would be overturned and abortions made illegal in President Bush's second term.
Many Americans are unhappy about this war because it is not targeting al-Qaida, Hooton said. "If we have to go after the terrorists, make sure we go after the right countries," she said. "Catch the terrorists, don't murder innocent civilians."
Others echoed her sentiment.
Todd Boyle, 52, of Kirkland, wielded a 4-by-7-foot sign, "U.S. Out of Iraq Now!"
"There were no weapons of mass destruction and there was no al-Qaida connection, so this war was based on lies," he said.
Carrying her 1-year-old, Kahlan, on her shoulders, Jessica Davis, 22, of Seattle said she came with her friends and their kids.
"I'm here to march for peace and just get our point across. We want to get out of Iraq, get our troops back and help rebuild people's lives over there that we've destroyed," she said. "And I hope that the Iraqi people and the Middle East people see that not all Americans support the war over there."
The "Raging Grannies" of Seattle, part of a national peace organization, also joined the protest. Carol McRoberts, 61, a state employee, worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya.
"I've seen what our policies do in Third World countries," she said. "They create great, great poverty."
Another raging granny, Shirley Morrison, 82, of Seattle, said she's fearful about the future.
"I want a world for my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren," she said. "I have six grandsons that are all of draft age."
Judy Chia Hui Hsu: 425-745-7809 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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