The goal: 10,000 people at the state Capitol in Raleigh this Saturday, April 15, to protest the impending invasion of Iraq. The objective: "Make their jaws drop," is how rally organizer Stan Goff puts it.
"We need to put up the biggest thing this state has ever seen," Goff said in a message posted to the N.C. Independent Media Center (www.nc.indymedia.org) and widely circulated via emails over the last week. He wants politicians like U.S. Sen. John Edwards, who's running for president, to get the message: "Hey, these people are serious, and they're talking about becoming ungovernable."
The event, dubbed the "March and Rally for Peace and Justice," will start at noon and last 90 minutes. Organizers suggest gathering by 11:30 a.m. at the Capitol to allow time for a short march to the rally site on Fayetteville Mall.
More than 50 organizations, and at least 200 people, are working together on the protest, according to Claudia Horwitz, director of Durham-based stone circles. Horwitz was among those raising money--and gathering signatories' names--for newspaper ads scheduled to run in The News & Observer and the Herald-Sun on Friday plugging the Saturday event. The ads will say: "The World Says No to War. So Do We."
Money--and names--were coming in fast early in the week, Horwitz said. "The more we raise, the larger the ads." She suggested checking www.ncpeacehub.org for updates on the rally itself and the need, if any, for more contributions.
The Raleigh protest is timed to be part of a "worldwide day of action" against the war. The centerpiece is a protest in New York City that organizers hope will draw 1 million people. Hundreds of smaller rallies are scheduled in Europe and the United States. To keep track of what's happening, try www.unitedforpeace.org.
In Pittsboro, peace activists are going ahead on Saturday with a march they'd scheduled before the Raleigh event was hatched. "I'm telling my friends, if you have the energy to go to Raleigh, great," says Lisa Neal. "But in our community, the feeling is that we need it all." Neal says 100 folks turned out on short notice for a similar march in January. With more lead time, she expects at least that many this time. Location: the Pittsboro traffic circle. Time: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Action: March clockwise around the circle, facing the counter-clockwise traffic.
Duke University students, meanwhile, pitched a "peace encampment" at the Chapel Quad at the start of the week. "It is unacceptable for people who support peace to go on living their normal lives in a time such as this," the organizers said. And the Student Peace Action Network (SPAN) is planning a "peace summit" at N.C. State University the weekend starting Feb. 28. Information is available through the group's website.
Veterans for Common Sense is suggesting that veterans opposed to the war get themselves interviewed on local TV and radio, write letters to the editor, and so on. "There is no sense of just cause in the U.S. armed forces today," says Gulf War vet Charles Sheehan-Miles. To link up with other vets, try www.veteransforcommonsense.org.
Is it hopeless? Maybe not. Who'd have thought the N.C. Democratic Party's statewide executive committee would have voted--unanimously--to oppose the war. But it did on Saturday. Members urged Congress and President Bush to "support continued and intensified weapons inspections ... (and) other appropriate alternative measures" to enforce the United Nations resolutions on Iraq.
U.S. Reps. David Price, Bobby Etheridge and Brad Miller, all Democrats representing the Triangle, might be interested in hearing from those who think so too. The congressional switchboard (1-800-839-5276) can connect you to each of their offices.