Vermont war protesters head to Washington, D.C.

10/24/02 12:00AM By Susan Keese



(Host) While the U.S. continues to threaten military action against Iraq, some Vermonters are heading for a peace rally in Washington on Saturday. They're also making their anti-war sentiments known at home, as VPR's Susan Keese reports:


(Keese) At a busy intersection near the Brattleboro courthouse, demonstrators are holding a vigil. They've been here, about 30 of them, every Wednesday at rush hour for the past six weeks. They carry signs that say, "No war," and "Not in our name." One says "Honk if you want peace." (Sound of traffic, cars honking.)

Daniel Sicken is a longtime peace activist and a member of the Brattleboro Peace and Justice Committee that started the weekly vigils. Sicken says the situation with Iraq has brought out people who don't normally get involved in demonstrations.

(Sicken) "I notice a lot of people here that you wouldn't normally find in a vigil, because I think a lot of people are really upset about what is happening with this upcoming war, and they want to do something."

(Keese) Ann Fines is one of them. She's a retired kindergarten teacher who's not a member of the committee. She says the administration's enthusiasm for pre-emptive action makes it hard for other voices to be heard:

(Fines) "Why am I here? Because I feel that to bomb Iraq is to break international law. It's to encourage other countries to feel they too can attack. And it's immoral."

(Keese) Other demonstrators said a war would divert resources from health care and other domestic problems. So many of them plan to attend the anti-war march in Washington this Saturday.

Robin Rieske plans to be there because she hopes the event will publicize a side of the story she says isn't getting enough attention:

(Rieske) "There's a lot of demonstrations across the country that we don't hear a lot about and chances are, people in other countries aren't hearing about them either. And chances are, when people show up en masse in D.C. then the press pays attention and the global press pays attention. And I think it's really important that they understand that not everybody here agrees with our government's policy on this."

(Keese) Rieske said that two chartered buses will leave Brattleboro for Washington on Friday. Buses are also leaving from Burlington, Bennington and Montpelier.

For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Susan Keese in Brattleboro.
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