Iraq War protest reaches milestone
For 312 Saturday afternoons, one Lawrence organization has stood in protest against the Iraq war that has claimed the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers.
Members of the Lawrence Coalition for Justice and Peace have received cheers and threats in front of the Douglas County Courthouse.
As the group invites the public to participate in a vigil at noon Saturday followed by a march down Massachusetts Street, one protester said enduring the years has been "encouraging and discouraging at the same time."
Joe Douglas, 68, a counselor at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, has witnessed the "tremendous enthusiasm" across the world from people demonstrating and protesting the war when it was first proposed. On the organization's first vigil in front of the courthouse, approximately 1,400 turned out.
"We really thought that we could stop it," Douglas said. "Obviously, we didn't."
Over time, the public outcry has dissipated. A dozen or so regulars still protest with signs on the corner of 11th and Massachusetts streets. People "got used to the fact that the war was going on. Even with lots of people dying there is a burn-out factor in the public," he said.
Saturday's vigil and march will be followed by a rally at Watson Park, near Eighth and Kentucky streets. Speakers will be Allan Hanson, professor of anthropology at Kansas University and a founding member of the coalition, and Forrest Swall, KU assistant professor of sociology.
"It will be a great opportunity for people who believe in the concept of peace over war to express their beliefs publicly," Douglas said.