Anti-war marchers: Give peace a chance

HARTFORD, Conn. - Marching from the state capitol to the federal building here, 500 Connecticut students, union members and religious leaders took to the streets Oct. 13 to protest the Bush administration's unilateral military retaliation on Afghanistan.

Connecticut activists condemned the Bush military response as morally wrong and fanning, not curbing, terrorism. Speakers called for an international effort against terrorism and bringing terrorist perpetrators before an international court of justice.

Originally planned before events of Sept. 11, the rally was organized by the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Star Wars, led by the American Friends Service Committee and other peace groups.

One of the featured speakers was George Springer, an official of the American Federation of Teachers. He drew on the historical connection with the peace movement since the 1960s. He warned against a repetition by the Bush administration of earlier military disasters.

The program, held on the north steps of the state capitol, included representatives from the Arab-American community, citizen action groups and local colleges.

Stacey Zimmerman of the United Auto Workers pledged support for a peace and justice response to terrorism. He invited union members to sign onto a statement, for peace and justice initiated by union members in New York City.

Stephen Kobasa from the Colombia Action Committee drew a parallel between the U.S. intervention in Colombia and the military assault on Afghanistan. He called for pressure on Congress for a U.S. military withdrawal from both areas.

Rev. Alvan Johnson, long-time Hartford spiritual leader and progressive activist, brought the crowd to its feet when he challenged the perception that protesting the war is unpatriotic. He also drew parallels between the civil rights movement and the struggle for peace.

He said that today's demonstrations are standing on the shoulders of the anti-war movement of the 1960s, when the theme song was 'All we are saying is 'give peace a chance.''

A public hearing will be conducted by the City of New Haven Peace Commission on Wednesday, Oct. 24 to discuss 'After September 11th - Perspectives for World Peace and Justice.'

On Oct. 17, a public hearing by the Human Services Committee of the New Haven Board of Aldermen heard testimony in favor of two resolutions submitted by the City of New Haven Peace Commission. One opposes weapons in space and calls for the abolishment of nuclear weapons.

The other opposes U.S. involvement with Plan Colombia. Both resolutions were voted favorably and will be presented to the entire Board of Aldermen for action at their next meeting.