Peace rallies draw diverse supporters throughout week
Monument Circle and various areas of downtown have been the site of near constant peace marches ever since bombing in Iraq began Wednesday evening. Hundreds of people have gathered for peace rallies nearly every day. Despite the constant presence of hecklers and people jeering, "Go back home where you came from!" and more than a dozen arrests during a brief period Thursday night, the rallies have been almost entirely peaceful and smooth. Rallies continue on a near-daily basis; a memorial service for those killed in this conflict is planned for 6 p.m. Saturday at Monument Circle.
Pamela Taylor, her husband Arif Khalid, and their four daughters - Saara, Ameera, Noora and Tasneen - a Muslim family living on the Eastside, arrived at Monument Circle after dusk Friday night for evening prayers. They carefully laid out their jackets and faced east, with Khalid at the head of the group, chanting in Arabic, before joining a quiet candlelight peace vigil. In this photo, Tasneen Khalid lifts a candle while her father"s hand, on the left, protects it from wind.
The fast Kristen Bein, a senior at North Central High School, looked weary on the second full day of rallies, and no wonder; it was her second day without food. Her T-shirt was inscribed, "Ask me why I"m fasting." The answer is on the back: "10,000,000 = number of starving Iraqis." She wore a black peace armband. It"s the only form of protest her school will let her engage in, she said. She started her fast Wednesday night at 10 p.m., when she first heard of the attacks. Since then she has taken only one glass of orange juice a day and water the rest of the time, and planned to carry it out for five days. "The line I get the most is, "Why are you fasting? Why are you protesting? You"re not going to change anything,"" she said. "What they don"t understand is that you still have to be visible. You have to let people know that you don"t support it when the president wants to kill all these people, wants to commit genocide." The walkout Tom Henkel and Eliot Zuk, freshmen at North Central High School, were both part of two days of student walkout week to protest what was then imminent military action in Iraq. Henkel, the walkout organizer, and Zuk related that as the first group of about a dozen freshmen and sophomores headed out Tuesday morning, they found security guards and administration members waiting for them. An assistant principal told them, "It"s too late now, you"re already suspended for three days, so go all out." Darcy Townes was part of a smaller group of juniors and seniors who tried to walk out the next day, but found the doors locked at their meeting point. At the edge of the school campus, uniformed security informed members of the media that no media would be allowed to cover the protest on school grounds. Since they couldn"t get out of the building, the group chanted, marched and hung a sign from the student center before being suspended for truancy from their classes. Townes said she suspected that even as they handed out punishments, the school administration was supportive of the walkout. "They gave us a very stern lecture. After the lecture they all shook our hands and said, "Congratulations." While they were underground supportive, they had to keep up the appearance of being in authority. They"re on our side, but they"re not allowed to say they"re on our side. I wish they"d just stand up and say what they really thought about this." "We don"t plan on stopping." Sean Monkhouse appeared exhausted Saturday morning, where he was acting as "peace liaison" between ralliers and police, but he was still going at it for the fourth solid day on little sleep and one night in jail. "Marion County is not the place to catch a nap." Monkhouse was one of the organizers of a group of nine people who were arrested Thursday night at the offices of Sens. Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh. The group had been attempting to get the senators to listen to two demands: that they vote to repeal the authorization for use of military force and that they schedule a roundtable town hall in Indianapolis to answer constituents" questions. "We believe very strongly the founding fathers put the power of war in Congress" hands for a reason," he said. "We entered the offices and told them we were prepared to stay there until our demands were met," Monkhouse said. That evening, when the offices were closed, police in riot gear showed up and arrested all nine. They were jailed for the night and face preliminary charges of criminal trespass. "It was traditional non-violent civil disobedience in the spirit of Gandhi and Martin Luther King." The group"s goals have not yet been met, but Monkhouse says at least their effort is now in the public eye, and this is only the beginning. "We don"t plan on stopping. A lot of people are saying, "Now that the war is started, we should end the debate and support the troops." But if we can stop this war one day earlier than it would have ended otherwise, we"ll have accomplished our goal. The debate has not satisfactorily taken place yet. The debate has to happen."