Drums, discourse and differences of opinion were the setting for a peace rally Friday on the Lory Student Center Plaza.
The rally, which was organized by Action Awareness, was a bit heated at times as audience members and scheduled speakers discussed, among other things, the potential war with Iraq, possibilities and strategies for future peace, and awareness of issues facing the international community.
“I think it’s necessary for our government and our country as a whole to come together to wage peace,” said Joe Ramagli, co-founder of Action Awareness and organizer of the rally. “We need to start to treat other people as brothers and sisters, instead of as the enemy.”
The rally included speeches from several local and national peace proponents as well as 15-foot puppets dressed as various characters, including an innocent Afghan victim, an Iraqi civilian, an American blinded by war and a corporate criminal.
These puppets were used in street theater performances and were brought by a local group of artists and activists called Democracy in Actin’.
“We wanted to have a response to the pro-war effort to make people realize that peace is an option, and to do it in a creative way,” said Chris Bates, a member of the group.
Not all audience members appreciated the demonstration’s message.
“I think it’s a joke,” said Kyle Burkett, a junior electrical engineering major who is in favor of war with Iraq. “I think to turn the other cheek is not necessarily a good thing. If Saddam (Hussein) has been developing nuclear weapons, he needs to be stopped because he’s a madman.”
Many of those in favor of peace held up signs to convey their message. Among signs used were, “Might does not make right – or safe,” “War – rich men profit, poor men die” and “No more blood for oil.”
Among the rally’s speakers was Mohammad Kalantari, interim director of distance learning and anthropology faculty at Front Range Community College.
“I’ve seen war first hand. War is a terrible thing,” Kalantari said. “You (college students) are the ones who can stop this, just like you stopped the Vietnam War.”
Eric Vickers, executive director of the American Muslim Council, spoke about young people’s responsibility to take control of their world.
“It is so refreshing to see young men and women actively concerned about this country,” Vickers said. “I want you to understand the power that is in your hands. The reason why you will be successful is because you are right.”
Also speaking at the rally were Joe Stern, a active contributor to the Committee for Justice, Peace and the Environment, Rich Shaffer, a co-convener for Strength Through Peace, and Stuart Sargent, an associate professor in the Foreign Languages and Literature department.
Sargent was supposed to introduce Paul William Roberts, a noted author and historian, but Roberts was unable to leave a Canadian airport due to unknown circumstances, Sargent said.
While the discussion between people was occasionally animated, there were no serious problems at the demonstration.
“These people are not yelling at you and forcing their beliefs on you,” said Lindsey Reed, a senior human development and family studies major. “I think it gets their point across better.”
Bryan O’Rourke, a junior mechanical engineering major, thought the demonstration was well organized, but that such rallies are sometimes ineffective.
“It gets the message out, but some people’s opinions you just can’t change,” O’Rourke said. “Some people want to go to war and some don’t.”