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Troop support ribbons on Mall to be retied tonight

WILL SEBERGER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Pete Seat, theater arts sophomore, and president of College Republicans, stands near one of the trees on the UA Mall that he recently decorated with yellow ribbons in support of troops abroad. All 150 ribbons were torn down Tuesday morning.
By Aaron Macke
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday April 24, 2003

Group says ribbons are not meant as political statements

The UA College Republicans will meet tonight on the UA Mall to hang yellow ribbons in support of U.S. troops, and they hope their efforts will be displayed for more than a day.

According to UA College Republican President Pete Seat, it will be the third time in a little over a week that the group has hung ribbons.

Seat said he is unsure who removed approximately 150 ribbons the group put up earlier this week. They were taken down sometime after the group left the university Monday evening and before 8 a.m Tuesday.

"Obviously we're disappointed because we wanted to show our support of our troops, not only in Iraq, but around the world," said College Republican State Chairmen and former UA College Republican President Scott Weller.

About 140 ribbons hung by the group April 16 were also torn down within 24 hours.

Both Weller and Seat said they believe anti-war protesters were responsible, but also said that they were not positive, as the removal could have been done by UA maintenance personnel.

Seat contacted UA administration, who told him that they were not responsible for the removal.

Associate Director of Facilities Management Chris Kopach said he was not sure if maintenance personnel had removed the ribbons; however, at the time of publication, he had not contacted his entire staff.

Weller said that while hanging ribbons Monday night, the 10-member group was approached by two men on bicycles who asked why the group was hanging the ribbons.

After telling the bicyclists that the ribbons were being hung to show support for U.S. armed forces, Weller said the men replied, "We support Iraq and al-Qaeda."

Weller said he did not understand why the ribbons would be removed, and added that he believed that hanging ribbons to show support of the troops is not a political issue.

"A lot of people from both sides of the political spectrum support the troops," Weller said.

However, Carrie Brown, president of the Alliance for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, said it is easy to assume that the ribbons were politically motivated, although she did not want to make accusations.

"I'm not against yellow ribbons, but the people who put them up have a specific agenda," she said.

Brown said APJME, which holds weekly vigils on the UA Mall, has been approached by local media regarding the group's possible involvement in the ribbon removal.

"People were already coming up to us like we has something to do with it," she said. "First of all, I don't know anything about it. I put stuff up all the time, and it gets taken down."

However, Seat said he believes both sets of ribbons were taken down intentionally.

"It's upsetting, obviously. There's a vast majority of people who would like to see (the ribbons) up," Seat said.

However, when the ribbons go up tonight, the College Republicans plan on staying around to see if they will be torn down again. Though the group will not be camping out, they patrol at different times throughout the night.

Seat said that he does not want any type of confrontation, but only hopes to talk to the people responsible for the removal.

"I'm not there to start anything. I would like to know why they're doing it," Seat said.

Seat also said that the removal was unfair, as he said other groups have been allowed to exercise their voices without being suppressed.

"We just do one peaceful thing, and they go out and rip (the ribbons) down," Seat said.

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