Palo Alto Residents Protest War

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Thousands of protesters, including several Paly students, gathered at the Palo Alto City Hall Plaza on Saturday, Feb. 1, to peacefully protest the possibility of an upcoming war with Iraq.
Initiated by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, the event began at noon with an anti-war rally, followed by a march down University Ave. It concluded two and a half hours later with a peace concert.

"No group of people anywhere are more ready to defend peace and democracy than you people here," Paul George, director of the PPJC, said in an opening statement addressing the crowd of enthusiastic protesters.

During the rally, the PPJC, the Green Party of Santa Clara County, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Stanford Community for Peace and Justice, and the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto were among the many organizations to have their representative speakers deliver orations protesting the possibility of war with Iraq.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom was represented by a group of elderly women, called "The Raging Grannies." They sang anti-war parodies of well-known songs. One example was "The CIA is Coming to Town," sung to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", making comical yet pointed remarks about President Bush’s proposed Patriot Act.

Often, speeches were laced with anti-Bush comments and criticisms of the Bush administration. "Both the U.S. and Iraq are suffering under unelected rulers," Marie Davis, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said.

Jeff Amos, reverend of the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, called for people to join the "rising tide of resistance to war."
"We cannot remain neutral," Amos said.

Robin McNulty, a Paly sophomore who had participated in other anti-war protests in San Francisco, concurred with Amos. "It’s important for people to come together in mass numbers because it makes a bigger impression," McNulty said.

The handful of Paly students who appeared at the demonstration not only included enthusiastic anti-war protesters, but casual onlookers as well.

"I don’t agree with a lot of the things they say, but it’s a good experience," Yisheng Jiang, a Paly senior, said of the speakers at the rally.

One of the more noticeable aspects of the rally, however, was the large, clear-cut signs protesters carried during the rally and demonstration. Some examples include: "Save our civil liberties," "Drop Bush, not bombs," "No blood for oil," and "Bush does not speak for US."

These were just a few of the posters raised high by the protesters as they enthused over the anti-war speeches of the rally, as well as during the peace march around the block to University Avenue. Protesters called out a multitude of loud, anti-war chants, such as "Bush is a moron, don’t let him get his war on!" and "No war! No way!"

During the march, many workers and patrons from adjacent stores laughed in amusement as they watched the marchers passing by. The march induced cynical reactions as well. "You’re all idiots!" one woman shouted at them as she passed.

Despite various negative responses from onlookers, the march continued peacefully. Following the march, the demonstration concluded peacefully with a lighthearted concert performed by Folk This! Ensemble.