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by Mary Shelton
Friday, Mar. 21, 2003 at 5:26 AM
Over 50 people protest against the war in Iraq in Riverside, amidst death threats, jeers and a lot of honks in support.
Over 50 demonstrators gathered with signs and banners near the heart of Riverside, to protest against the war in Iraq. During the first few minutes, news came that the bombs have already started to fall in Bagdad.
Members of different organizations representing the University of California, Riverside and Riverside Community College played drums, rattled instruments and chanted for several hours, while members of the Women in Black lit candles and stood silently nearby.
Near the protest zone, stood several gas stations, with prices that are higher than they’ve ever been. Onlookers at the gas station appeared more mad about that at the protesters than the forces that have caused gas prices to skyrocket. A California Highway Patrol car parked in the lot at one of them, with its front lights on during the entire protest, except when leaving to stop several motorists who had honked in support of the protesters.
The motorists honked in support and made peace signs. Others gave their middle finger to the protesters and several even yelled that if they had a gun, they would shoot it. When the CHP officer, who was surveilling the protesters was informed of one particular death threat, he said that the man was simply exercising his free speech just as the protesters were exercising theirs. Other officers from the Riverside Police Department kept their distance, except for one officer who told the protesters it was okay if they demonstrated as long as they stayed on the sidewalk and did not go in the street or crosswalks(even when the light was green). The demonstrators used the crosswalks anyway, but obeyed all laws. The days of sending out the SWAT team to give out jaywalking tickets to protestors at least for now, a memory.
However, one officer, Field Training Officer and former Marine, Chris Lanzillo had his most recent trainee stopped in traffic to express his opinion on the war to the protesters.
“It’s too late,” Lanzillo said, smiling, “the bombs have already started falling.” He then made a gesture with his fingers showing the bombs falling. His words once again a reminder of how Riverside Police Department officers view killing and dying, as long as its people of color as four officers laughed when they shot a young Black woman named Tyisha Miller in 1998 as well.
RPD Officer Roger Sutton, an African-American, alleged in his racial discrimination law suit that officers called Arab-Americans, “towel heads” and said that “pro-Palestine people should go back where they came from.”
Protestors plan to return to University and Iowa at 6pm tomorrow to voice their opposition to the war in Iraq.
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