Claudia Johnson marched for peace carrying a large photo of her infant granddaughter decked in a red dress trimmed with lace. Her son, Harold Jr., is on the front line in the Persian Gulf and has never seen his baby girl. Johnson, along with a group of University law students and more than 1000 other protesters, marched from City Hall to Independence Mall Saturday, calling for a peaceful resolution of the Persian Gulf crisis. First learning the horrors of war when her brother was injured in Vietnam, Johnson is fighting to make sure her son comes home safely. As they took over Center City streets and blocked traffic for several blocks, protesters chanted anti-war slogans and carried banners and placards urging the removal of American troops from the region. The protesters marched from City Hall down Chestnut and Market Streets to the Liberty Bell. When the crowd assembled at the end of the march, various speakers shared their stories and feelings about an imminent war in the Gulf. At one point of the rally, members of an activist group lay on the ground clad in white masks as a man cloaked in black circled them. According to signs, the protesters were portraying Middle Easterners and Americans who would die as a consequence of war. Cries for peace and collective sighs echoed thoroughout the protesters near the beginning of the speeches. When one of the rally's organizers had informed them that the Senate had authorized President Bush to use force to resolve the crisis, some of the crowd members yelled, "Let Bush send his sons." The University law students said that many heard about the march from the National Lawyers Guild at the Law School. First-year Law student Laura Ellis said she is opposed to the war, calling herself a pacifist. "If we do go to war, the United States should play a much smaller role," Ellis said. Second-year Law student Todd Cox, like most of the protesters, said the government has not given sanctions and negotiations enough time to work. "We haven't given peaceful solutions time to work," Cox said. "We should give them as long as it takes." Philadelphia resident Dave Mailen, one of the organizers of the protest, said his aim was to cause people to take notice and to encourage them to actively oppose the war. Mailen, hair in a ponytail and clad in desert-colored fatigues, said he feels very strongly about the issue because he is a veteran of the Korean War and knew soldiers in the Vietnam War. Members of the groups sold bus tickets to Washington D.C. for upcoming demonstrations and passed out literature about the peace movement and about racism against Arab-Americans.Comments powered by Disqus
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