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Local group hosts vigil to protest the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD The afternoon of Jan. 31 was cold and windy and was punctuated with snow flurries. The 20 people gathered on the West Springfield town common, though, paid little heed to the weather and concentrated more on the blare of auto horns and waves from passing motorists.

From 4 to 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month members of the West Springfield Citizens for Peace hold a vigil protesting the Bush Administrations policies in Iraq. Ellen Graves of West Springfield, one of the organizers of the protest, said that people largely support their efforts.

The group has members from Westfield and Agawam as well as a contingent of high school students from the School of Performing Arts in Hadley. Graves said they have been conducting the vigils for about a year.

Graves said at the core of their protest is a belief that the administration should not send more troops to Iraq and instead should be spending more money in the United States to address problems here.

The group carried signs and banners expressing their distrust of the recent State of the Union address and noted the passing of Coretta Scott King.

Graves said that like-minded people who want to join the vigil can either call her at 736-4774 for more information or just come down to the common.

They received a few negative responses, she said. One of those was a man who walked up to the group and accused them of being Communists.

"That was really old fashioned," Graves said.