Iraq war protest held on campus
URBANA – Local anti-war activists marked America's fifth year in Iraq on Thursday with speeches on the Quad, a march through Campustown and a "die-in."
About 35 marchers gathered on Anniversary Plaza south of the Illini Union just before noon, strode past the Alma Mater to Green Street, turned west to Fifth Street and came back on John, then took a turn around the University of Illinois quadrangle.
The protesters themselves noted that the turnout wasn't huge, with speaker Alex Kueny noting that the Vietnam War was not protested in its first five years, and that the protests peaked 10 years into the war.
Two-thirds of Americans oppose the current war, Kueny, a freshman in history, told the crowd.
Protesters took a page from Vietnam era protesters and chanted "Hey Bush, Whaddya Say, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today," a rhyme once used to castigate Lyndon Baines Johnson.
"No Justice, No Peace, U.S. Out Of The Middle East" was another popular slogan.
Mark Mallon, a junior in English who helped plan the protest as part of the Prairie Greens Party, said he was pleased with the response.
Another Green Party leader, Susan Rodgers, said organizers had tried to get the word out in a hurry using techniques unavailable to Abbie Hoffman, such as Facebook and e-mail lists.
There was no evident counterprotest, though a few people shouted their disagreement with the marchers as they walked along Green and Fifth streets.
The noon hour was a big time for high school tours, and a crowd from Naperville fell in behind the marchers near the English Building.
One incoming UI student from Naperville, Kristen Meder, said she looked forward to demonstration as part of her Illini experience.
"Megaphones! I love it!" she said as her group veered toward the English Building.
Although most of the marchers were college-aged, Mark Enslin has been around since the headier times of the 1970s.
The composer, a teacher at the School for Designing A Society, carried two poster-sized signs as he walked his bike with the marchers.
In his opinion, the current war is celebrating its 17th anniversary, dating back to the end of the first Gulf War of the president's father.
Enslin said a climate of militarism keeps up pressure for war in the media and elsewhere, and opponents of the war need to do the same thing, pressing every day for an accounting.
Another veteran protester, UI law professor emeritus Francis Boyle, renewed a call for the impeachment of the president and vice president, as well as a Nuremberg-like trial of U.S. leaders for what Boyle described as "genocide" in the Middle East.
Another speaker, Green Party county board candidate Walter Pituc, said the war is costing this country $12 billion a month, money he suggested could be better spent on education or taking care of homeless veterans.