Third year of protest ushered in by speakers, signs, candles

Angela Hoover

Jonathan Sauk of Franklin Township and Amy Libbie of Kent lead the peaceful protest march through downtown Kent against the war in Iraq. JAMESON CAMPBELL | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

After three years of bodies piling up on both sides of the Iraq War, peace activists still protest. The Portage Community Peace Coalition held its third annual peace rally and march last evening to commemorate the war’s third anniversary.

About 75 concerned citizens gathered around the downtown gazebo at the corner of Main and Franklin streets, bracing the icy wind to listen to seven speakers and two singers.

This year’s rally was peaceful. However, in 2003, the rally led to 14 arrests.

Kent employment attorney Nancy Grim spoke of the blurring of the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution by the Bush administration.

“Let’s defend the Constitution and get the law back to the people,” she said in conclusion of her speech.

John Bradley Deane, senior political science major and member of the Kent State Anti-War Committee, said the problem is not just Bush but a transition in power to large corporations that started 30 years ago.

Ten percent of the population owned 70 percent of the wealth in 2001, said Deane citing figures from Economic Apartheid, a politics and poverty class textbook. “But more frightening” is that in 2003, 1 percent owned 38 percent of the wealth.

“We’ve seen the fall of the labor movement, and we’ve lost our voice at the table,” Deane said. “The lobbyist has taken over, and now we no longer have our voice.”

When 88 percent of Iraqis consider the people who attack U.S. soldiers to be “freedom fighters,” we are not spreading freedom, Deane said.

Kevin Heade, senior political science major and president of the May 4 Task Force, called the U.S. military involvement in Iraq “war crimes against the Iraqi people resulting in over 100,000 dead and the complete deterioration of civil society.”

“The nation that I live in is not the nation it should be,” Heade said. “Freedom and justice have been replaced with tyranny and oppression, transparency with secrecy, morality with deception.”

Stacy Proskovec of Hudson found out about the rally online and brought her mother Eleanor Clewell. Neither belong to a peace organization but “are just tired of the war and the administration,” Proskovec said.

Amanda John, senior integrated science major and member of KSAWC, said she is against imperialism and occupation anywhere, which she said is all Iraq is because Iraqis do not want us there.

“There are people all over the world that need our help but we turn our backs on them,” John said. “Only when it suits the corporate benefit do we get involved.”

After an hour of speeches, the crowd dropped to about 50, who walked up and down Main Street carrying signs and beating drums for nearly an hour.

Only about 25 stayed for the candlelight vigil, which is a weekly event held every Sunday at 6 p.m. at the gazebo at Franklin and Main streets. The vigil was started three years ago and always has plenty of supporters each and every week.

Contact public affairs reporter Angela Hoover at [email protected]