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Anniversary draws generations of protesters to rally, march

After five years, some of the signs are getting a bit tattered, the messages predictable.

“Out of Iraq.”

“End the Occupation.”

“Wage Peace.”

About 100 war protesters gathered Saturday at the federal courthouse in Spokane and marched through downtown, calling for an end to the war and prohibitions against torture. There were peace-sign necklaces aplenty, at least one tie-dyed shirt and a beater SUV that cruised past the courthouse with its driver alternately laying on the horn and shouting, “U.S.A! U.S.A!” through his open window.

And protest songs. “My country used to be, sweet land of liberty. Not anymore,” sang the Raging Grannies, as cadence was kept by a drummer from the P-Jammers, which bills itself as “Spokane’s marching peace band.”

Some protesters were old enough to have once chanted, “Hey, hey, LBJ!” But Saturday’s event included a new generation, who were high-school students – or younger – when the war began. They were represented by Myca Pearson, founder of Eastern Washington University’s Youth for Peace and Justice group.

“It was student groups and activists that helped end the war in Vietnam and now it’s our turn to do the same,” Pearson, a junior, said in her speech.

Later, Pearson said the war is not a major topic of discussion on campus, but that her small group is generally appreciated by those with whom they speak. “We’ve had a few run-ins with the ROTC people, but the majority of people are pretty open to it,” she said.

Speaking out through peaceful demonstrations is a manifestation of love for America and mankind, said the Rev. Richard Erhardt.

“The anti-war movement is a love story,” said Erhardt, pastor of Spokane Unitarian Universalist Church. “And we are at a crossroads in our country where only a real love story can save us.”

Erhardt said the next president faces a difficult task. “It took us years to get into this mess and it will take us years to get out of it,” he said.



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