War protest set for Eagle County

Tamara MillerVail correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
NWS Peace Protest1 SM 3-15-07

EAGLE COUNTY Rick Filter can voice his opinion on the Iraq war without saying a word. Filter, a Gypsum resident, is making 300 crosses for a local group that opposes the war. By donating his time to the cause, he said he’s supporting the effort to pull troops out of Iraq.”Why we are in Iraq is real confusing, for one,” he said. “And now that we’re there, why aren’t we being more aggressive or trying to get out?”If it were up to Susie Davis, American troops would never have been sent to Iraq in the first place. With the anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq approaching, Davis and a few like-minded locals decided it was time to make a statement. They resurrected a since-dormant group that initially formed in the early 1990s to oppose a state law that relaxed protection for homosexuals who had been discriminated against in the workplace. (The state law, Amendment 2, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.) The group now has a new name – Eagle County for Peace and Justice – and a new purpose: To give local residents a way to demonstrate their opposition to the Iraq war. The group wants to distribute the crosses Filter has made to residents to place in their front yards. The crosses, which are modeled after those found at the Arlington National Cemetery, are supposed to represent soldiers who have died while serving in Iraq.

Then the group plans to demonstrate at major intersections across Eagle County on Monday, the fourth anniversary of the war.

The local group got the idea to use white crosses from the California-based anti-war group, The local group wanted a way to demonstrate opposition to the war without being too “invasive,” said Davis, an Edwards resident. “Peace doesn’t come from being aggressive and confrontational,” she said.Davis stops short of calling herself an “absolute pacifist.” But her activist ways date back to the Vietnam War, when as a teenager, she helped friends demonstrate against that war. Comparisons have been made between the Iraq war and the Vietnam War. Unlike Vietnam, though, there have been far fewer anti-war demonstrations, Davis said, and that’s probably because so many young people were drafted into the Vietnam War.A local group demonstrated in Eagle against the Iraq war when it began in 2003. A handful of those opposed to the war write letters to the editor to voice their opinions. Speaking out isn’t easy for many, Davis said. “I think it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and being willing to take a stand, and that is a scary thing to some people,” Davis said. Now that the war has become increasingly unpopular with the American public, it may be easier for some to voice their opposition, said Beth Reilly, another member of the local peace group.”I don’t think there’s currently any backlash about speaking out against the war because it’s become more fashionable,” Reilly said. “However, when this war first started, I think the George Bush propaganda machine made people who are against the war seem anti-patriotic. “Part of what our country is founded on is the diversity of opinions and having the right and ability to speak out about what you believe in without repercussions,” she said.

Similarly, those who oppose the war have their differences, Davis said. Some were against the war from the beginning. Others have become disillusioned about the war as it has progressed, or disagree with how the Bush administration has managed the war, she said.To make her point, Davis said she recently wrote a letter to the editor chastising Eagle County Rep. Mark Udall, a Democrat, for not taking a stronger stance against the war. Another member of the peace group is Deb Marquez, a longtime local Democrat activist. “Obviously, we don’t always come from the same political perspective, and we don’t have to agree on everything, but we have a common peacemaking agenda,” Davis said. Reilly has been involved in peace advocacy groups for several years. She spent time in El Salvador and Guatemala, and helped plant trees in areas in Nicaragua that had been destroyed during the war between the country’s government and the Contras, an anti-Communist militant group. Those experiences have convinced Reilly that violence is not an effective way to solve problems.She believes demonstrating against the war can help push politicians to withdraw American troops from Iraq. “The power of the people can change policy,” she said. “Apathy doesn’t get us anywhere.”


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