By Cassie Blombaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 23, 2005
Hundreds of protesters, fueled by the tragedies in Iraq, will rally and march tomorrow to protest the war in Iraq, but some UA political groups have mixed opinions about the protesters' message.
The protest will begin at 10 a.m. at Catalina Park on North Fourth Avenue and East Second Street, and it will end with a picket at the military recruiter's offices on 2302 E. Speedway Blvd., said Joe Bernick, one of the coordinators with the Tucson Peace Action Coalition.
Up to 600 people are expected to attend the event, which coincides with the United for Peace and Justice organization's rally in Washington, D.C., to end the war in Iraq, Bernick said.
But it's not just about ending the war, Bernick said. The protest is also about diverting funds that can be better spent on local communities.
"The message is to end the war and bring our troops home safely, but it is also about
spending the money locally on health and education," Bernick said.
"That's why so many community groups are supporting (the rally)."
David Martinez III, president of the UA Young Democrats, said he will not be attending the event, but the group supports the rally's vision.
"I believe the general theme of the rally is peace, and I fully support that message," Martinez said. "We must focus on being supportive of our men and women in military service and of their families, which Bush and his cronies have not done."
The rally is important because too many people are ignorant of the actual situation in Iraq, Martinez said.
"It's violent, Americans are dying, innocent Iraqis are dying ... and for what? Bush can no longer play politics with this," Martinez said.
But not all sides of the political spectrum agree.
UA College Republicans President Sean Small, who said he is not going to attend the event, disagrees with the rally's message.
"There are many positive indicators of progress in Iraq, and we need to maintain our presence to ensure a successful Iraqi democracy," Small said.
Nevertheless, the protestors have every right to express their feelings, he said.
"They are, of course, free to exercise their First Amendment rights to spread their message to the community," Small said.
Ryan Montana Erickson, the treasurer of the College Republicans, said while he fully supports the right of the protestors to gather, he also does not agree with the message.
"To completely remove from Iraq would convey that all of our nation's labors, dollars spent and lives lost will have been in vain," Erickson said.
Bernick said the organizers will work with the police to ensure a peaceful event, regardless of differing opinions.
"We've had at least three large action demonstrations like this before, and we've never had violence," Bernick said.