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2 Beaches, 2 Days, Many Voices for Peace (Part II)

by Bronwyn Mauldin Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2001 at 3:35 AM

Part II: Venice anti-war march attracts supporters, applause from bystanders

About 50 people, four dogs and at least one cat joined in an anti-war march down Venice Beach Sunday afternoon. Lead by one person carrying a paper dove, and another toting a boombox playing John Lennon's "Imagine," the marchers protested against the bombings in Afghanistan, racial profiling and "anti-terrorism" legislation currently before Congress.

As the marchers made their way down Ocean Front Walk from Rose Ave. to Windward Ave., many bystanders applauded or sang along.

The paint wasn't yet dry on her bright yellow, green and blue sign when Diane Butler joined the march. Her sign read "Jesus said, 'Love your enemies.'" Butler, a Venice resident and artist who sells her work on the Ocean Front Walk, explained that as a Christian, she wanted "to portray Jesus the way he really was."

As the march passed Cafe 325 at Dudley Ave., several people dining at the eatery applauded. Elizabeth Ridgeway of North Hollywood clapped for the march because "it completely resounded with my heart." Andreina Maxwell of Sherman Oaks said, "I totally believe in it, and 'Imagine' shouldn't be banned from radio."

Richard Washington wore a red, white and blue flag print bandana on his head and filmed much of the march on his videocamera. He didn't understand why the U.S. could not come up with a better solution to its problems than bombing. "If we're powerful enough to bomb, why aren't we powerful enough to out-think them?" he asked.

When the demonstration passed the Sidewalk Cafe and Bar, the standing room only crowd erupted into cheers and applause.

The marchers continued down Ocean Front Walk and rallied on the grass at Windward Ave., where they sang "Imagine" and "Down by the Riverside."

Standing at the edge of the crowd were two young women and a young man from Afghanistan. They had come to Venice this Sunday to enjoy the beach and sun, not knowing about the march and rally.

The three Afghanis said that while they wish the Taliban would leave their country, bombings will not solve their country's problems. "They are killing each other in the name of Jesus, of the Jews, of Muhammad. All are wrong," the young man said of the growing violence. None of the Afghanis wished to give their names.

All three of them blamed the U.S. and specifically the CIA for creating the current crisis by training and supporting the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in the past.

What Afghanistan needs today is education and food, the young man continued. The country needs to be able to grow enough food to feed its own people. He said that any political solution that is forced on Afghanistan from the outside will not last - Afghanis must choose their own government and find their own way.

One of the young women expressed great concern for the innocent people who are being killed every day by the American and British bombings. None of the three of them have been able to contact family and friends back in Afghanistan since the bombings began. Communication infrastructure in the country was already fragile, and it has only been made worse over the past week.

Lillian Hsu and Sharon Piwowarski were two other people who had come to the beach for fun on Sunday and found themselves at the march and rally. Neither of them are "regular activists," but they became interested in participating in the anti-war movement after seeing a recent demonstration at the Westwood Federal Building.

Piwowarski, an assistant teacher at a Santa Monica preschool, thinks that the U.S. should have at least followed up on the Taliban's last-minute offer to turn over Osama bin Laden to Pakistan, instead of rushing to bomb Afghanistan. Instead, the U.S. responded as if the September 11 tragedy was "a blow to our self esteem.

"We're the bully of the world and we have to live up to that reputation," she said.

"Bombing isn't the answer because a lot of innocent lives will be lost. It's not worth it," added Hsu, a junior at UCLA. Both Hsu and Piwowarski plan to participate in anti-war activities in the future.

Yolanda Miranda, Organizing Committee Chairperson for the Peace and Freedom Party, main organizers of the day's events, explained that one of her primary reasons for putting together this march was her concern about the trauma and suffering that children and mothers in Afghanistan are going through. "Killing children and endangering lives is not a godly thing to do," she said.

At the end of the rally, Jim Smith of the Peace and Freedom Party invited everyone to return next week for another anti-war march. He also encouraged people to organize other events in their own communities. "Venice, as great as it is, can't end the war by itself," he said.

Points of unity for Sunday's march:

** Oppose military action, including bombings, which have already resulted in the deaths of innocent UN staff and Afghan people.

** Oppose racial profiling and hate crimes against Arab and Muslim people.

** Oppose indefinite detention of suspects without due process.

** Oppose Bush "anti-terrorism" bill that undermines U.S. Constitution

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 6 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
yeah. . . carla Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2001 at 11:28 AM
U.N. Only International Authority Anti-Fascist Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2001 at 2:07 PM
well, gee. . . carla Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2001 at 4:25 PM
Bronwyn missed the substance completely! Bill Mitchell Thursday, Oct. 18, 2001 at 5:27 AM
anti war march michele eve Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2001 at 6:23 AM
Free Venice Martin Jones Monday, Oct. 29, 2001 at 5:28 AM

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