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Protesters seek to train police in non-violence

BY DANIEL STURM

In order to prevent police brutality in the Feb. 15 statewide rally in Lansing, The Greater Lansing Network Against War in Iraq will try to involve the Lansing and East Lansing police departments in non-violence training workshops. “Many of those police officers are new recruits, and they’ve never experienced this kind of situation,” network coordinator Bob Alexander said.

Alexander believes that many activists will embrace non-violent forms of civil resistance, should Bush attack Iraq by or before Feb. 15. This might include taking over street blocks or occupying office buildings. Alexander expects more than 1,500 people will join the protest march, which will start at Beaumont Tower on Michigan State University campus. Its destination is the state Capitol.


Daniel Sturm/City Pulse
City officials and antiwar activities meet Monday to discuss the antiwar march and rally scheduled for Feb. 15. Attending were Lansing mayoral assistant David Wiener (right, with glasses and beard) and Lansing Police chief Mark Alley (leaning forward beyond Wiener). Between Wiener and Alley is Steve Rall, a Lansing resident who took part in last week’s antiwar rally in Grand Rapids during President Bush’s speech.
Last Monday Captain Ray Hall and Lansing Chief of Police Mark Alley attended a network meeting to discuss the march. Alley was concerned about some activists’ plan for civil resistance. The march is being permitted two street lanes, but protesters could decide to take over all four lanes, leading to a total shutdown of Michigan Avenue. “We have to keep Sparrow Hospital’s door open, for example,” Allen said.

Alley emphasized that he didn’t want the rally escalate as it had in Grand Rapids during President Bush’s visit last week. Officers won’t carry sticks, he said, and the police detention center’s doors will be open to media and rally organizers. But Alley also said they wanted to keep things under control: “One of the tactics we’ve used in the past is a pressure pain compliance. It’s painful and it makes people move.” Captain Hall said there were several spots on the body that they could apply pressure to in cases of civil disobedience. He said they preferred this technique, because the injury for risk was much lower than lifting and carrying people off the street.

Kenneth Harrow, rally co-organizer and a Michigan State University English professor, said the network did not see police as the enemy “like it was in the counter-culture days.” But several activists said that if Bush decided to go to war, no one could guarantee that demonstrators would stay calm.

In conjunction with the statewide peace march, some area groups propose a more radical presence within the antiwar movement. Direct Action has called for a breakaway march, for those interested in taking the demonstration a step further. The second march will start at Frandor’s Ranney Skate Park and meet with the network march en route to the Capitol at about 1 p.m. Direct Action encourages costumes, street theater, blockades, lockdowns, graffiti, banners, puppets, weapons inspections, a die in, music, and “whatever your hearts desire and minds can think of.”

Peace Rallies & Vigils
“Michigan Says No to War!” statewide peace march to the state Capitol, noon Feb 15 Beaumont Tower MSU.
(In conjunction) Direct Action Faction Breakaway. March, 1 p.m. Feb. 15, Ranney Skate Park. 300 Frandor Ave.
Friday Peace Vigil. Noon-1 p.m. in front of the state Capitol.
Daily Peace Vigil, Orchard St Pump House Neighborhood Center, 368 Orchard St., East Lansing, 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Activities
Banner, sign, and puppet making, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb 6 and 13, Otherwise Gallery in Old Town, 371-5227.
Brass Band Protest Band, practice session 1 p.m. Feb 9, Presbyterian Church of Okemos, 2255 Bennett Road. For more information, call Tamiko Rothhorn, 974-3751 or 349-1865.
“No Iraq War” yard signs
($1-$5): contact solo-dancer@attbi.com, Evelyn Jackson 339-0590, or Lea Shelton 337-8087 at the Peace Education Center.
Poets Against the War, Submit your name and a poem or statement of conscience to kokua@olympus.net, which will be given to Laura Bush at a reception and White House Symposium on “Poetry and the American Voice” at 1 p.m. Feb. 12
Tom Heyden. The Michigan native who was a leader of the Vietnam War peace movement will speak at 4 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Kellogg Center at MSU.

Contingency Plans:
If an attack occurs in the day, a peace vigil will begin at 6 p.m. in front of the state Capitol and continue for at least 24 hours; in case of an attack at night, the peace vigil will begin at 9 a.m..
New York City:
The World Says No to War Rally, noon Feb.15. www.unitedforpeace.org
Afternoon rally, New York City, www.internationalanswer.org

San Francisco:
Stop the War in Iraq Rally, 11 a.m. Feb. 16, Embarcadero and Market to Civic Center, Bay Area United Against War, info@bauaw.org

Film Schedule, Students for Justice and Peace
MSU Wells Hall B-102, at 7pm
Feb. 10, “This Is What Democracy Looks Like”
– WTO Protests in Seattle
Feb. 20, “The Panama Deception” – U.S. Invasion of Panama
March 19, “The Gaza Strip” – Scenes from Palestine
March 31, “Battle of Vieques” & “Puerto Rico: An American Colony”
April 7, “Cover-up: Behind the Iran Contra”
April 14, “Destination Nicaragua”

Resources
Greater Lansing Network Against the War in Iraq, www.peaceforiraq.org
Direct Action, www.direct-action.net
Cities for Peace, www.citiesforpeace.org
The National Priorities Project, www.nationalpriorities.org
Greenhouse Peace Project, jamrag@glis.net

Also on Feb. 15, 1 million protesters are expected to join the “The World Says No to War” peace march past the United Nations in New York. The organizing group, United For Peace, has invited speakers including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, Martin Luther King III and performers Harry Belafonte, Mos Def and Danny Glover. San Francisco will stage a protest on Feb. 16, when more than 30 cities from London to Tokyo to Johannesburg plan to hold similar rallies.

Observers of the largest international peace movement since Vietnam note the extent to which the Internet has supplemented and to some extend transformed classical forms of protest. As part of a massive lobby campaign, more than 10,000 members of the online protest organization MoveOn.org visited 450 local congressional offices on Jan. 21, in order to deliver their feelings about a possible war in Iraq: “Let the Inspections Work,” was MoveOn.org’s decree. As a result of this campaign (which included verified signatures of more than 310,000 Americans) 30 House members signed a Dear Colleague letter to the p[resident, asking him to let the inspectors do their jobs and abide by the U.N. process. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Lansing) received petitions from 759 people to request that sanctions be allowed to work.

Kenneth Salzmann, who coordinated the Lansing event, said that if the existing coalitions against the war would unify, it would be “very possible to stop the war.” Salzmann believes the antiwar movement has not yet reached its peak but that it already rivals the size of antiwar protests five years into the Vietnam War. “What MoveOn.org was able to do is absolutely staggering. Unlike the Vietnam protests, grassroots movements today seem to have almost unlimited possibilities to network.”

At Roger’s office, 1327 E. Michigan Ave, 31 Michigan residents each said why they opposed a preemptive strike against Iraq. They asked Rogers to call upon the president to let the inspections work. Rogers, a former FBI agent, responded with a question of his own: “Do you say it’s a preemptive strike if in fact we know his intention is to do harm to the United States?” The Lansing area MoveOn.org members replied, “Yes.” Rogers then followed with an analogy from his time as an FBI agent. “Do you kick in the door, pull out your gun, and get the bad guy before he gets the good guy? Or do you wait in the car until the murderer is done, and then go in and arrest him? That’s the question,” he said.

The activists criticized this analogy, arguing the goal was to disarm Saddam Hussein and not to make war with him. “As you know, the inspections after the last war destroyed more weapons than all of the bombing that we did in 1991,” said MoveOn.org spokesman Charles Calati Jr.

The Bush administration has left itself open to mockery and ridicule by not providing proof of the existence of the weapons systems. Terry Jones, the former director of the renown British comedy group Monty Python parodied Bush in last Sunday’s edition of the British newspaper The Observer. “I’m going to give the whole street two weeks — no, 10 days — to come out in the open and hand over all aliens and interplanetary hijackers, galactic outlaws and interstellar terrorist masterminds, and if they don’t hand them over nicely and say ‘Thank you,’ I’m going to bomb the entire street to kingdom come. It’s just as sane as what George W. Bush is proposing — and, in contrast to what he’s intending, my policy will destroy only one street.”


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