Wheels of Justice stop at Basalt High | AspenTimes.com

Wheels of Justice stop at Basalt High

Janet Urquhart

Bea Dewing and Kevin Mayley bring the Wheels of Justice tour and its message of peace to Basalt High School on Thursday. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

The peace movement passively sought recruits at Basalt High School on Thursday.Whether it was successful was difficult to determine, but a small crowd of students gathered at the Wheels of Justice table, set up briefly inside the school’s front doors during the lunch hour. Teens picked up some of the pamphlets Wheels of Justice tour representatives proffered.The tour’s focus is the occupations of Palestinian areas and Iraq. A revolving crew of volunteers – all people who have spent time in either area of the Middle East – have been traveling around the country for five years.The Roaring Fork Peace Coalition arranged for Thursday’s stop at Basalt High, following a presentation Wednesday at Yampa Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs and a Wednesday evening program at the Glenwood Community Center.Coalition member and local activist Sue Gray said she called every high school from Aspen to Rifle but had just the two takers.

Universities and Army recruiters occasionally set up a table inside Basalt High and offer information on their programs, said Tim Root, assistant principal. Wheels of Justice was accorded equal treatment, he said.There were no speeches from activists to the student body, though.”It’s never done in a captive way – we always give students the choice,” Root said.”We decided it was just a good idea to provide a venue. If the kids want to learn more about the issues, they can,” added Ben Bohmfalk, a social studies teacher at Basalt High.”It’s kind of a counter-recruitment,” Gray said.

Students seemed most interested in an album of sometimes wrenching images of victims of war and occupation in the Middle East. “It’s overwhelming,” senior Zach Baker said after paging through the images.Some students also picked up fliers, including literature that discouraged military service.Bea Dewing, a Pennsylvania resident currently touring on the Wheels of Justice bus, spent two months in Palestinian areas in 2003. Her message, she said, is: “The cost of occupation for the people who have to live with it on the ground.”Gray, a Carbondale resident who filled in at Wednesday’s events as the spokeswoman for life in occupied Iraq, said she hopes the tour offers youths a different perspective.”I really just hope kids get an alternative view of the situation in the Middle East,” she said. “It’s not from the soldier’s perspective or government’s perspective … it’s from a person on the ground. I hope it will open their eyes to the stories behind the stories.”

“I think it’s awesome because I don’t really see a lot of this view,” senior Laura Barr said. “I think it’s really cool they came to our school.”Mady Zuena picked up an armful of literature. “In the news, they don’t show everything,” she said after looking at the photo album. “I’m not pro-war. I think we’re there for the wrong reasons.”The brightly painted Wheels of Justice tour bus, parked outside, depicted slogans like “War is not the answer” and “Nonviolence or nonexistence.” On the sides of the vehicle, doves of peace and an olive branch adorned the center section, with a mountain scene on one end and a Middle Eastern desert scene on the other.The tour, ongoing for five years, is wrapping up for this year but will be back on the road in 2006, Dewing said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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