As the showdown with Iraq heats up, hundreds of antiwar demonstrators marched Saturday in the West Bank and Seward neighborhoods of Minneapolis.
Organizers said they wanted to have a strong presence on the eve of what is expected to be a significant week in the Iraq debate. Monday is the deadline for U.N. inspectors in Iraq to report to the U.N. Security Council. On Tuesday, President Bush will give his State of the Union address.
Saturday, January 25, 2003
"This war is not about the weapons inspections. This war is about the United States' greed for control of the natural resources of the Middle East," said Meredith Aby of the Anti-War Committee, one of several groups that make up the Iraq Peace Coalition. The coalition organized Saturday's protest.
She was unmoved by recent reports that suggest Bush, under pressure from other countries, will allow the inspectors more time. "Bush is trying to stall to build a coalition for war," she said.
Organizers estimated that 850 to 1,000 people participated in the protest; Minneapolis police counted about 1,000.
The 2-mile march began near the corner of 3rd St. and Cedar Av. S. on the University of Minnesota's West Bank campus. A crowd formed on the plaza outside Midwest Mountaineering and Mayday Books. Bob Marley music blared from large speakers atop an organizer's car as people of all ages waved signs with such messages as "No Blood for Oil!" and "Why Bomb Them?"
Margaret Schnieders, a theater stage manager, recently joined the antiwar movement. What began as agreement with the views of the antiwar demonstrators has developed into full-scale involvement for Schnieders, 25.
"I wanted to do something that would make a difference," she said. "I don't think we should be getting involved in a war on Iraq now. I think there will be way too many casualties of Iraqi people. I don't feel the American people are getting the full story."
The march on Saturday was the third war protest Schnieders has attended, including the one in Washington, D.C., last weekend that drew tens of thousands of people.
On Saturday, she was one of several people wearing white armbands indicating they were responsible for shepherding the marchers through busy intersections. Wearing a striped scarf wrapped tightly to block the wind, Schnieders stood in the middle of Cedar Avenue with her arms outstretched.
"The first protest I went to, I was completely underdressed," she said as the protesters filed passed her, walking on Cedar Avenue, Minnehaha Avenue and on a bridge over Interstate Hwy. 94 before ending up at Augsburg College for a rally.
Along the way, the marchers drew curious looks from bystanders and a few honks from cars. "I think we've picked up a few people," Schnieders guessed, eyeballing the crowd toward the end of the march. "I think it really raises awareness and encourages other people to speak out."
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