STATEN ISLAND, New York - As 5:30 p.m. drew near yesterday, it was a busy, typical evening rush hour at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan.Until Elaine Brower blew her whistle, prompting close to 50 anti-war protesters scattered around the waiting lounge to freeze in place -- and become the center of attention.
Activists, most of them clad in orange T-shirts reading "NO ATTACK ON IRAN" and some holding and wearing white and orange sheets with the same message, each "froze" for five minutes in front of dozens of ferry travelers.
After the silent message, they expressed their beliefs vocally, chanting, "No attack on Iran!" for two minues.
Those in the crowd waiting for the ferry applauded the group for speaking -- and displaying -- their position. Prior to the act, some even took white sheets from the activists to join in.
Then, minutes after the quick event, the doors opened for people to board the ferry, and the audience was gone.
Ms. Brower, whose 27-year-old son James is about to serve his third tour in Iraq as a U.S. Marine, used her hands to make peace gestures during the period of protester silence.
"It's good. It makes a point. And it's not illegal," said Ms. Brower, who's also a member of the National Steering Committee.
The anti-war activists hope their message gets people to reconsider the state of America and what can be done to better our society.
Rich Marini, a 33-year-old from Great Kills, said he previously participated in similar political protests at Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station. "It makes people think," he said. "It's not a thought they have on their commute home."
St. George resident Sally Jones, 59, former chairwoman of Peace Action Staten Island and current chair of Peace Action New York State, said the creative action by the group should help people realize what's going on.
"A lot of people are ready for more diplomacy and fewer attacks. Actually, no attacks," said Ms. Jones, who participated in the protest. "Any kind of military action will have a negative effect on the economy."
One woman who watched the protest offered her approval.
"I think they feel very strongly," said Rebecca, 29, of Mariners Harbor, who said she's not much of a fan of the current war in Iraq. "Too much money being wasted on this."
Deanna Gorzynski, 50, of Bergen Country, N.J., who took part in what she called "political street theater," has friends who have children serving overseas in the military.
"It was clear that we got their attention, and that was the idea," she said.
When asked why she chose to participate, her response was simple: "Because I'm a human being," she said. "This is a matter of life."
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