Students, faculty protest possible war with Iraq

Clare Lowther

At the intersection of Broadway and the 31-W bypass, a driver rolled down his window and flipped off sign-toting protesters.

Instead of returning the middle finger, the protesters held up their middle and index fingers, making peace signs.

“Two fingers, not one,” they said.

On Saturday, thousands gathered in New York, Rome and London to protest possible war with Iraq. As part of the world-wide effort, Celebrate Activism Now organized a protest for Bowling Green. About 40 people showed up in the early afternoon, mostly Western students.

The group promoted the event primarily by word of mouth and e-mail. Some were surprised by the number of people who turned out.

“It was a last minute thing,” Louisville senior Nathan Metcalf said. “But word spreads fast. Friends told friends, and they told friends, and it turned into this.”

The Bowling Green protesters stood under a few scattered umbrellas. They held signs that read, “Hilltoppers for Peace,” “All bombing is terrorism” and “Frodo has failed. Bush has the ring.”

One man slowly waved the light blue flag of the United Nations.

Another man wore a turban and a George W. Bush mask. He marched up and down the sidewalk holding an American flag.

The protesters referred to the president as “Osama bin Bush” and “Bush bin Laden.”

“It’s not ideal weather, but it’s more important to sacrifice personal comfort for the comfort of our national security and the safety of the people of Iraq, the United States and [people] around the world,” said Elizabeth Robb, a graduate student from Portland, Ore.

Bardstown senior Brandon Copeland said he attended the rally because he is opposed to the United States’ rush to go to war.

“I woke up this morning, and I saw on the news that there was going to be a global gathering to show dissent and opposition to the war,” Copeland said. “It seems people aren’t being quiet anymore.”

Copeland stood next to history professor Charles Bussey, who held a sign that read, “The madness must cease,” a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

“I love America,” Bussey said. “I think George Bush is leading us in the wrong direction…He wants us to just go in there like cowboys.”

Bussey said Bush has not yet exhausted diplomacy.

But others said they saw confusion in the administration’s logic.

“I think killing for peace is like screwing for the sake of virginity,” said Bekah Rundell, a sophomore from Lewisburg, Penn. “We’re going to stop a war one person at a time.”

About an hour into the protest, Bowling Green Police Officer David Roach approached the group and asked if they had a permit to hold the demonstration on public property. Under a Bowling Green city ordinance, groups cannot meet on public property, such as a sidewalk, without a permit. Roach gave them a spoken warning and asked them to leave by 2:30 p.m. The group complied without argument.

Louisville Senior Sean Murphy, a member of CAN, said he felt that, except for a few cases, the protest was well received.

“Most people’s reactions have been positive,” he said. “Although one man was just oh-so-polite as to give a small child the finger. One other person yelled at us and told us we were terrorists. Other than that, reactions have been pretty positive.”

Reach Clare Lowther at [email protected]