Activists protesting Iraqi war

William Hermann The Arizona Republic Mar. 17, 2006 12:00 AM

As Sunday's third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq nears, a coalition of anti-war groups will hold demonstrations today and Saturday.

Today, protesters plan to go to the Valley offices of U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and U.S. Reps. John Shadegg, Jeff Flake, J.D. Hayworth and Trent Franks.

From 3 to 10 p.m., they will carry signs protesting the war and hold a candlelight vigil, according to Mitch Rubin, a member of the End the War Coalition. Rubin said the coalition represents groups that oppose the U.S. presence in Iraq, including the Arizona Alliance for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Christian Peace Makers, Veterans for Peace and Women in Black.

Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, protesters will hear speakers at the federal courthouse at Fourth Avenue and Washington Street in Phoenix. Demonstrators will then march to the U.S. Attorney's Office on Central Avenue to hear more speakers, followed by a march to a nearby military induction center. They will end the day at Cesar Chavez Plaza at Second Avenue and Washington Street.

Eleanor Eisenberg, former American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona director, will be among the speakers at Chavez Plaza.

"I no longer speak for the ACLU, so I'm free to express my own views, and I feel very strongly that this administration is making the world an unsafe place and taking away from the American people the civil liberties we hold so dear," Eisenberg said.

"We see that we have been involved in torture, spying on American citizens, and if we are not already in the middle of a civil war in Iraq, we will be. More people need to speak out against this," she said.

Among the protesters Saturday will be Veterans for Peace member Dennis Stout, of Phoenix. Stout served in the Army in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967.

"We feel this war was not a necessary war to begin with and that it's already lost," Stout said. "We feel this war will have a dishonorable end, whether it ends now or two years from now.

"No matter when we leave, there will be chaos and a civil war."

While the protesters make their statements today and Saturday, many Arizonans, like Sara and John Stumbo, will be at home, perhaps considering the conflicted feelings they have about the war.

Their son, Bruce, served in the Marines during the invasion of Iraq, then stayed in the country another eight months. His four-year stint in the service has since ended, and he is back in the Valley.

"None of us feel like we want to go to war," Sara Stumbo said. "But conditions in Iraq under Saddam Hussein were terrible, and we did get him out. At some point you have to say there is a bully and we aren't going to let him abuse people while the rest of us ignore it.

"Something had to change over there."

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