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War protesters gathered in freezing temperatures

By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

WESTFIELD Members of the WARoNOke Peace Action Group gathered on the Green Jan. 27 to support a Washington D.C. march that took place at the same time. The purpose of both demonstrations was to call to the end of the war in Iraq.

"We are here to really support the troops," Edward Brown, of the WARoNOke Group, said to Reminder Publications. "It is a call for them to return home as soon as possible. There is a massive protest in Washington D.C. and we are providing an opportunity for people who can't go."

"There's so many people against escalation," Marjory Lehan, a local protester, said. "We feel very strongly that this war was wrong from the start and fanning the flames for the making of a civil war with our presence there and it is all for oil."

On the opposite side of the Green stood protesters who were protesting the WARoNOke Peace Action Group.

"I am here to say that all people do not agree with these protesters," Sam John, identifying himself as a concerned citizen, said. "What I am doing out here today is to say that terrorism is not going to go away. If we pull out of Iraq with only a couple of people over there then what do they want us to do?"

The Jan. 27 march in D.C. was organized by the United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) coalition, an organization composed of approximately 1,300 local and national groups. UFPJ officials have reported that since their founding in October 2002, they have organized the two largest demonstrations against the Iraq war. They followed the march with organizing sessions, workshops and congressional advocacy visits.

Speeches were to be delivered at the D.C. event by Reverend Jesse Jackson Jr., Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Bob Watada, father of Lt. Ehren Watada, the first military officer to refuse deployment.

Watada will face a court-martial to begin Feb. 5.

Reported supporters of the event were said to include Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Congresswomen Maxine Waters, Congresswomen Lynn Woolsey, Rhea Perlman, Eve Ensler, Mimi Kennedy and Q'orianka Kilchert.

The WARoNOke Peace Action Group said they formed by individuals who came together on the Green in downtown Westfield to demonstrate their opposition to the Iraq war before it began.

The WARoNOke Group will be participating with the West Springfield Citizens for Peace in a peace vigil Feb. 6 from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. on the West Springfield Green.

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