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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Brazil woman reacts to war protests

Friday, March 21, 2003

Brazil resident Juli Black looked on with disgust as anti-war activists staged a raucous parade through downtown Indianapolis, banging drums, chanting slogans and holding aloft signs with "No War" written in red paint splattered like blood.

Once the two dozen high school and college-age protesters turned a corner and their voices faded, she said the young activists cannot see the big picture of the United States' attack on Iraq.

"The men and women over there are fighting for our freedom, and to help the Iraqis, and it's insulting to the troops, what these kids are doing," said Black, who wore a shirt emblazoned with the American flag.

A day after the United States began attacking Iraq in an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein, hundreds of Indiana residents took to the streets to make their opinions known about the war.

From loud anti-war protests to somber peace vigils and flag-waving rallies for the troops, people turned out in the state's largest cities.

In Indianapolis, police arrested 13 anti-war activists, eight of whom now face trespassing charges for entering the state offices of Indiana's two U.S. senators and refusing to leave until the senators spoke to them.

"We want to know the answer to why there are bombs being dropped on Baghdad," activist Carl Rising-Moore told an aide to Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., after he and several others entered Lugar's office.

In the same office tower, activists entered Sen. Evan Bayh's offices and demanded to speak to the Indiana Democrat.

Both groups were told the senators were too busy in the nation's capital to speak to them by telephone.

"You won't be able to talk to anyone today," Bayh's regional director, David Lewis, told the activists, who vowed not to budge from the office.

Eight of them were arrested by Indianapolis police after the offices just off of Indianapolis' Monument Circle closed for the day at 5 p.m. As police led them away, protesters who had gathered beneath the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument cheered them on.

Indianapolis police arrested five other anti-war protesters Thursday who had gathered beneath the monument to denounce the war.

In South Bend, about 300 people sang songs and prayed in a city park before marching a few block to a parking lot across from the city's federal building.

"This war is illegal," Ann Clark, a longtime South Bend peace activist, said to the cheers of the crowd.

"We are gathered here to oppose the use of our tax dollars to visit the horrors of war on the citizens of Iraq. This war is immoral."

The scene was quieter in Jasper, where yellow ribbons adorned white posts on Main Street, homes' front doors, businesses and City Hall -- a reflection of hopes for a safe return of about 650 Indiana National Guard members sent overseas from the southern Indiana city's armory.

At Jasper's St. Joseph Catholic Church, three dozen people attended a prayer service Thursday for local soldiers now in harm's way.

"I feel sorry for any of them who have to go, but we have to clean up this mess," said Allen Merkel of Jasper, 64. "If we don't get down on our knees and pray, there's going to be more Iraqs."

Indianapolis resident Kenneth Baker, a 19-year-old Marine Corps recruit who took part in Thursday's anti-war rally in the state's capital, said there was no question in his mind that Hussein must go after brutalizing the Iraqi people for decades.

But Baker, who said he heads off to basic training in Camp Pendleton, Calif., this fall, has deep reservations about what the U.S. military's goals are for a post-Saddam Iraq.

He worries that the United States may try to install a government of its own design in Iraq and that it intends to seize control of the Persian Gulf nation's vast oil reserves.

"I feel confident about going over there and fighting Saddam," he said. "But if we're going to do it, we need to get rid of Saddam and that's it -- not take their oil and not set up a puppet government. We have to let them do their own thing."

As Baker and his cohorts marched around Indianapolis' monument to its veterans of the Civil War and Spanish-American War, Roy Skiles and about a half-dozen counter-demonstrators heckled them.

Skiles, a 22-year-old Indianapolis construction worker, carried a sign declaring "USA Blow Iraq Away" and "God Bless USA". He said he strongly supports American troops fighting in Iraq and believes they will liberate Iraq from a tryant.

"We're helping an oppressed people. Once you give power back to the people, we should let them decide what they want," Skiles said.

"I think the bombing and all that won't take long, but to get them straightened up with a democracy that'll be a long time."

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Contributing to this story: Tom Coyne in South Bend, Shannon Dinniny in Jasper and Mark Jewell in Indianapolis.

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