Homes are Anti-War Billboards
Published on Saturday, April 10, 2004 by the Daily Camera
Homes are Anti-War Billboards
Boulder residents protest war on their garage doors, walls
by Mary Butler

Some people plaster bumper stickers on their cars, pitch signs in their yards and attend rallies to voice their political views.

In Boulder, at least two people have taken freedom of expression to another level: They've turned their homes into anti-war billboards.

These long-standing protests at 3312 16th St. and 2334 14th St. have perhaps become even more conspicuous in recent days of escalating violence in Iraq.

Fallujah residents this week turned a soccer stadium into a makeshift burial ground for hundreds of Iraqi dead. On Friday, the United States announced a cease-fire in Fallujah, but coalition forces retained the right to use gunfire in self defense against insurgents.

Since the United States first bombed Afghanistan more than two years ago, Joanne Cowan began writing in chalk on her bright blue garage door.

Her first message was, "As we act, let us not become the evil we deplore." The words came from California Democrat Barbara Lee, who cast the lone vote against giving President Bush authority to retaliate against the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Later, Cowan began tracking the continuing loss of U.S. soldiers, using chalk hash marks.

As of Friday, 648 American lives had been lost.

"Strangers ring my door and thank me. People who pass me while I'm out gardening say, 'Great door.' There's been a lot of positive response," said Cowan, who has owned the house on 16th Street for 15 years.

"Incurring some ire from people is OK, too, because it's getting people to think about it how they want to respond to the war," she said.

Phil Brittin, who lives in a 14th Street duplex, hasn't been tracking the deaths as closely as Cowan, who updates the body count every morning.

But messages spray-painted black on his white brick home still pack a punch.

"Bush lied," "Where are the WMDs?" and "Impeach the Punk Ass," are among the messages displayed in large writing visible from more than a block away.

Brittin did not return the Daily Camera's calls seeking comment.

A caravan of counterculture youths traveling to Taos, N.M., said they chose to spend a night parked in front of Brittin's house because they thought their rainbow-graffitied school bus looked as though it belonged there.

Anna-Marie Berger, librarian at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, across the street from Brittin's house, said the school respects their neighbor's right to express himself.

"We try to be neighborly," she said.

Cowan's neighbors are also mostly deferential.

One neighbor, who said she didn't want her name used, said she simply ignores Cowan's house because she doesn't agree with her views.

But Arlene Lalouette, who has lived on Cowan's block for five years, said: "It is a fine expression of the freedoms in our country, whether you agree with her or not. ... In the neighborhood, it fosters debate but nobody has said, 'Gee, I wish she'd stop doing that.'"

Copyright 2004, The Daily Camera.