Posted by Jeff from d53-106-196.try.wideopenwest.com (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 at 6:30PM :
Groups Gather to Protest Iraq War
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By ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer
From Indiana Mennonites collecting care packages for Iraq's poor to a "die-in" on an Ivy League campus, Americans took to the streets Tuesday in mostly small, low-key events to protest a possible war with Iraq. More than 100 people were arrested.
World War II veteran Ray Kaepplinger was picketing outside a Chicago federal office building as 20 people were being arrested in the lobby for criminal trespass.
Kaepplinger, 84, said he had "been through the plume of hell in New Guinea" and didn't want to see another war erupt. "As far as I'm concerned, President George II is as bad as Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)," he said.
About half the 200 protesters outside the U.S. mission to the United Nations (news - web sites) in New York were arrested for disorderly conduct, including clergy members. Across the country in Sacramento, Calif., nine were taken into custody for blocking the entrance to a federal courthouse.
"It's my first time ever," said Maria Cornejo, 41, a mother of four from Dixon, Calif. "That's how important this is."
In Hollywood, more than 100 entertainers signed a letter to President Bush (news - web sites) saying a war with Iraq will "increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks, damage the economy and undermine our moral standing in the world."
"This notion of pre-emptive war is setting a precedent ... and we must ask ourselves, where does this end?" said Tony Shalhoub, star of the ABC detective show "Monk."
The group United for Peace counted more than 120 planned vigils, acts of civil disobedience and marches in 37 states from Alaska to Florida. Protests were being organized by fax and over the Internet by anarchists and Communists, evangelicals and Quakers.
In the Mennonite community of Goshen, Ind., people gathered soap, bandages, towels and other items to send to Iraq. Among the group was Sharon Baker, 64.
"I'm opposed to any war, any time, anywhere, any place because war doesn't solve anything," she said.
In the nation's capital, about 300 protesters staged a march to a park near the White House. Flanked by police, John Steinbach of Manassas, Va., an organizer of the Gray Panthers, was pushing the wheelchair of his 97-year-old wife, Louise Franklin-Ramirez, who he said had been protesting since 1917.
"The movement was looked on as being mainly youngsters," said Irving Irskin, 84, of Bethesda, Md., "but we want to show it's our war, too."
Earlier in Washington, about 30 protesters converged on two military recruiting stations chanting, "Hell no, we won't go," and plastering windows with red tape. Police said six people were arrested.
About 100 students and faculty at Brown University in Providence, R.I., marched and staged a "die-in" in front of the city's federal building.
The White House said the president welcomed the protests as part of a "time-honored tradition" of democracy.
While a recent USA/CNN/Gallup Poll found a majority of Americans support sending ground troops to remove the Iraqi president, the percentage opposed has nearly doubled to 37 percent since a year ago.
The protests were a far cry from October's mass rallies in Washington, San Francisco and elsewhere that drew an estimated 200,000 participants.
Unlike during the Vietnam War, mainstream groups are not waiting for a full-blown conflict to register their opposition. The National Council on Churches, which represents 50 million Christians, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times last week asking Bush to avert a war.
The day of protest also coincided with former President Jimmy Carter's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway.
"War may sometimes be a necessary evil," he said in his acceptance speech. "But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good."
Associated Press writers Jessica Brice in Sacramento; Mike Robinson in Chicago; Carol Ann Riha in Des Moines; Danny Freedman in Washington; Michael Virtanen in Albany; Karen Matthews in New York; and Elizabeth Zuckerman in Providence contributed to this report.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Allen G. Breed is the AP's Southeast regional writer, based in Raleigh, N.C.
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