Published on Monday, September 17, 2001 by the Associated Press
1,200 March for Peace in Portland
by Andrew Kramer
Singing Vietnam-era peace songs, about 1,200 people marched through downtown Portland Sunday, demanding that the United States find nonviolent responses to the East Coast terror attacks.
While most Americans are clamoring for retaliation, the pacifists said military strikes will not help.
The crowd observed a moment of silence for the victims, thousands of whom are still buried under rubble. But they also cheered and hooted vociferously to speeches condemning U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
"The peace movement is alive and well today," said Chris Ferlazzo, a member of the Portland Peaceful Response group that organized the march and a rally that preceded it.
"It's a senseless crime, but more violence won't help and we're concerned more innocent people will die," he said.
Scattered bystanders who watched the rally didn't seem disturbed by it. But one man asked what he thought of the rally tersely said "I support the President" and walked off.
Speakers cited Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. They said they must be true to their nonviolent beliefs even at the cost of appearing unpatriotic.
Protesters marched a loop from Park Blocks to Pioneer Courthouse Square and back, humming and singing anti-war songs such as "Down By The Riverside."
The pacifist march was one of the first of its size in the United States since the terrorist attacks last Tuesday.
At a town meeting Sunday in Norwalk, Conn. with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, some of about 400 residents gathered spoke against going to war. One anti-war activist in New York said she reached for a dove-of-peace banner rather than the American flag after the attack.
At the Portland march, participants laid roses and other flowers on a velvet cloth in memory of the victims.
They also said they don't want any more victims.
Bishara Costandi, a Palestinian resident of Portland and member of a nonprofit group Arabs Building Community, spoke out against "the very brutal policy" of the United States overseas. The crowd cheered.
"We're sending a loud and clear message that the country is not united behind a military response," he said.
One woman held a placard citing Gandhi: "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."
Another cited Martin Luther King Jr.: "I'm concerned about justice, I'm concerned about community, I'm concerned about truth -- and when one is concerned about these, he can never advocate violence."
Lloyd Marbet, a former Green Party candidate for Secretary of State, read the U.S. Senate's unanimous declaration of support for President Bush to use force to punish the perpetrators, eliciting hissing and loud cries of "No" from the audience.
Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press.