With bombs raining down on Afghanistan, students and Madison residents did the only thing they could to expr
ess their objection to the war — rally for peace at the State Capitol.
Hundreds gathered on the Capitol steps to proclaim that violence is not the answer to the Sept. 11 attacks.
President Bush ordered air strikes on Afghanistan to begin Sunday morning, as activists immediately prepared to rally for peace.
“The Madison Area Peace Coalition (MAPC) had planned that on the day of the first military strike, we would meet at the Capitol at 5 p.m.,” said Melea Carvlin, UW-Madison junior and member of MAPC and the International Socialist Organization. “We are glad to see that people have come.”
Most people came to the rally to express their discontent with the air strike on Afghanistan.
“I was on the bus and I saw signs that they had bombed Afghanistan, so I came, because that is all I could do,” Madison resident Emma Kramer-Wheeler said.
For some students, the impact of the first air strike prompted them to come to the rally.
“I stopped by my dorm and it was just like revisiting Sept. 11,” UW freshman Sarah Dibbert said. “I was walking down the halls and CNN was playing on all the TVs. It reminded me so much of Sept. 11, so I just wanted to come and support something that I believe in.”
Knowledge of the issue of war and the attacks of Sept. 11 is mostly based on media coverage. UW student Ted Marino attended the rally to hear different perspectives on the issues.
“I am more towards peace than war, but I was just curious to hear this group’s opinion of the subject, because apparently it is different than in the news,” he said.
Anti-war sentiments echoed throughout the crowd. Signs saying, “Make love not war,” “Drop food, not bombs,” “War is also terrorism,” “Honor the victims of Sept. 11, stop the killing” and many others were hoisted in the air.
The crowd chanted, “Peace yes, bombing no. Bush’s war has got to go,” as speakers preached anti-war messages.
Civilian casualties were a major protest issue.
“I heard on the news today that in Kabul bombs are being dropped near hospitals and people are running and screaming,” Carvlin said. “It seems clear that civilians will not be exempted from the violence.”
Instead of violence, the protesters called for the United States to examine its own policies before any type of retaliation.
“The U.S. government needs to consider the injustices it has perpetrated before taking vengeance on those who have perpetrated injustices against the U.S.,” Carvlin said.
Robyn Gee, one of the speakers at the rally, said the United States is not in a position to fight terrorism because of past injustices it has committed.
“I heard a quote the other day that fits the situation: ‘Having the U.S. go in and ‘fight’ terrorism is kind of like having Al Capone fight gangsters in Chicago,'” she said.
Carvlin said it was important for the United States to establish priorities other than war.
“We need to have priorities; we need to value human life all over the world, not just of our own citizens,” Carvlin said.
Speakers called for self-education among those attending the rally and told them to express their opinions to legislators.
Many attending the rally stressed the importance of getting involved in community organizations.
“I certainly hope people come around and realize that violence is not going to bring security, and they take action in their community,” Kramer-Wheeler said.