Protesters block Prospect

Mar 252003
Authors: J.J. Babb

It was Tuesday morning on campus, and business was not as usual.

It was not usual for those commuting to work along Prospect Avenue.

It was not usual for the anti-war demonstrators blocking the intersection.

“Our voice is going to get louder and louder and louder. No war in Iraq. No war in our name. Bring the soldiers home. We want no business as usual,” said Norberto Valdez, an assistant professor of anthropology.

An estimated 170 participants took part in the anti-war, pro-peace protests that included demonstrations on campus and on a busy city intersection.

The protest began at 7:30 a.m. at the Oval with a rallying speech by Valdez.

“We are the majority, to me that’s what democracy is all about,” Valdez told his audience of 100. “We need to respect our Mother Earth instead of bombing the hell out of her.”

The group on campus then marched to join the 50 participants already blocking traffic on Prospect just west of College Avenue. They arrived around 8:15 a.m. In the middle of the street stood a 15-foot medal tripod. A woman, surrounded by banners, sat atop the tripod.

The banners read:

* “War in Iraq – not in my name”

* “No business as usual”

* “No blood for oil”

Fort Collins Police Services stood on both sides of the protest group, diverting traffic from Prospect and helping keep the peace.

“We made a choice to let them state their purpose,” police spokesperson Rita Davis said. “They agreed that at 10 a.m. they would clear the street and there would be no violence, and they held up the agreement.”

Other protestors held signs:

* “War is terror”

* “Stop the cycle of violence, bring our troops home,”

* “2.5 million children live in Baghdad”

* “No war in Iraq”

Pamphlets were also handed out to participants and sightseers describing why the group was protesting and the group’s mission statement.

The group consisted of a loose coalition of organizations supporting the pro-peace movement. They included campus groups Action Awareness and Democracy in Actin’.

For many of the participants in Tuesday’s demonstration, the mission was clear: to protest the war against Iraq and make the pro-peace voice heard.

“I think by blocking off Prospect it prevents people from getting to school and they have to see this. It’s a more powerful voice,” said Alison Mata, a sophomore psychology major.

Jarrett Tishmack, a sophomore forestry major, believes civil disobedience can be an effective tool against war.

“(Civil disobedience) provides an action that raises the level of consciousness beyond the level of normal demonstrations,” Tishmack said.

For Fort Collins resident Deborah Stucklen, protesting was an exercise of her constitutional rights.

“I have a copy of the Constitution right here,” Stucklen said, patting her right jacket pocket. “So much in that Constitution is being violated in this war.”

Not all on the corner of Prospect and College agreed with the protestors. Fort Collins resident Grace Brownlee spoke up for President Bush.

“War is a way of resolving conflict – it always has been,” Brownlee said. “You stop them now before they manifest like Hitler. George W. Bush is our president. We elected him. He is not a dictator.”

According to Davis, the protesting group did not have a permit, thus they did not follow the proper procedure, but were allowed to continue to avoid conflict until 10 a.m. At that point the group disbanded peacefully with no arrests, injuries or property damage taking place.

“They were really willing to negotiate as far as breaking up and negotiating without taking action,” said Victor Sainz, police/protestor liaison for the demonstrators.

As the group disbanded protestors expressed their gratitude to police for allowing them to protest peacefully, and Katie Hester, a sophomore social science major, invited the community to join the pro-peace cause.

“We feel like there are probably a lot of people in Fort Collins who dissent but feel like they are alone,” Hester said.

Protest organizers and participants said the demonstration succeeded in projecting their message against the war in Iraq.

“We are in solidarity with millions of people internationally that are against the war in Iraq,” said Emerald Murphy, the media liaison for the protest organizers. “We have a voice.”

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