Anti-War Protest Packs Garfield High Gym
Published on Monday, December 9, 2002 by The Seattle Times
Anti-War Protest Packs Garfield High Gym
by Monica Soto

Tom Herriman used the apples from his yard to hold a cider press for peace; he wanted to give his neighbors in Ballard a venue to discuss their opposition to a war with Iraq.

Richard Clairmont, right, and a friend he calls "W" hold a sign during a rally and protest against going to war in Iraq. Clairmont came from Port Townsend to attend the rally in the Garfield High School gym in Seattle. (Photo/Jimi Lott)
Residents in Lake Forest erected an anti-war table at their farmers market. At Green Lake, citizens have held an anti-war vigil every Sunday for 15 weeks.

And yesterday, roughly 2,000 people packed the Garfield High School gym in Seattle to discuss tangible ways to make their opposition to war felt in their communities — whether the idea be big or small.

The event, "Stop the War on Iraq! A Day to Commit to Action," was sponsored by Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War, or SNOW.

"This is not just a big demonstration where you hold a sign and go home," said organizer Jean Buskin. "This is about making a commitment."

As the Bush administration continues its push for military action against Iraq, it's difficult to know just how much dissent there is. Polls have shown a majority of Americans would support going to war to stop Saddam Hussein from amassing weapons of mass destruction. But peace activists here are trying to increase their presence in the community.

In Port Townsend, some residents posed for a "Peace Portrait" to display their solidarity for peace. Organizers expected 200 participants; 800 came. Those in the group, which now sells the photo on postcards and greeting cards, said they borrowed the idea from another small town and hope others will copy it from them.

About 200 people gathered midday Thursday at Seattle Central Community College in protest of war; on Friday several hundred college and high-school students walked out of classes around Seattle; and yesterday more than 350 people held an anti-war rally near the Tacoma Mall.

Today, the Hate Free Zone will host a talk "What will war with Iraq mean for Iraquis here?" at 6:30 p.m. at Delridge Community Center, 4502 Delridge Way S.W. The panel discussion will include U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, and some leaders of the Iraqi community in Seattle.

On Saturday, the University of Washington student group Lion's Voice sponsored a lecture by Dr. David Krieger, founder of the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Krieger, who recently co-authored a book, "Choose Hope: Your Role in Waging Peace in the Nuclear Age," called it promising that some citizens are speaking out before a possible war.

"It wasn't until the body bags started coming home that people started to see the light and speak out" about Vietnam, Krieger said at his Saturday lecture. "It's marvelous. It's a sign of hope that the American people are not asleep."

Yesterday at the Garfield rally, participants gathered in the bleachers in community clusters — Vashon, Bellevue/Issaquah, Queen Anne, Columbia City/Rainier, University and Mercer Island.

High-school spirit signs were replaced with banners that carried anti-war slogans. In lieu of a marching band, the participants were entertained by the Seattle Labor Chorus.

Bridget Jones, 19, a student at Seattle Central Community College, said she came to yesterday's event looking for ways to participate in the anti-war effort.

"This war is going to represent America," she said. "And I don't know anyone who's for this war."

While organizers focused on ways to coordinate neighborhood movements, they plan to organize larger events. SNOW and other groups plan to hold 1,000 potluck suppers in Seattle Jan. 18 to discuss, ask questions and share ideas about their anti-war effort. They plan to keep track of the locations using thumbtacks on a large wall map.

"I feel not that my voice isn't being heard, but it's being ignored," said Sue Lucas, 21, who lives on Capitol Hill. "I don't know what we can do to have some impact. It's pretty scary."

Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company