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Peaceniks Invade Suburbia

Anti-war demonstratorsWALNUT CREEK, CA - The anti-war movement invaded the suburbs March 17, when over 500 people marched through the heart of this quiet Northern California bedroom community.

The "Starve War, Feed Peace!" march and rally -- sponsored by The Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center -- was part of a worldwide day of protest against the brutal war in Iraq, one that has caused the death of over 3,200 U.S. military personnel and tens of thousands of terrible injuries. Conservative estimates suggest that over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed, and hundreds of thousands of civilians seriously injured.

The anti-war march began at Walnut Creek's BART station, snaked through the city's main commercial district and culminated with a rally at the bandstand in Civic Center Park.

THERE THEY WERE, an orderly group of baby boomers, though many young people and children were also there. In contrast to the red diaper babies that raised hell during the Vietnam War era, these were folks who own small businesses, do your tax returns, serve on your city council and take their kids to soccer practice. The atmosphere during the march was peaceful and healing as befits a gathering crying out for peace and respect for our troops.

Activist Antonia Juhasz, author of The Bush Agenda, asked the crowd: "How do you take the resources of a foreign country?" Her answer: "Pass a law," a reference to a recent Iraqi cabinet decision to privatize that nation's oil industry. And just as the Bush Administration claims draconian laws such as the Patriot Act are enacted to PROTECT democracy -- even if the government has to spy on every citizen to do so -- privatizing Iraqi oil fields is just another cynical step to grant U.S. corporations total control of that nation's oil reserves.

MARINE VETERAN SPEAKS UP

"Supporting the troops is more then just putting a bumper sticker on the car," declared Mike Ergo, a Marine veteran of two tours in Iraq, including the bloody Fallujah campaign. "We must support the troops by bringing them home."

Anne Reosler's son served three terms in the Iraq War. A member of "Military Families Speak Out," Reosler tearfully described her son's fight with Post Traumatic Stress syndrome since coming home. She emphatically denounced Democrats who attempt to straddle the fence. "You can't have it both ways," she said. "You can't be against the war and continue to fund it."

Frustration with the Democrats backsliding was demonstrated by the lukewarm reception for Bard Johnson, representing George Miller (D-Martinez). Johnson's remarks were interrupted by calls from the audience to stop war funding now.

At least one marcher expressed alarm at the erosion of civil liberties by the government -- here at home, in the U.S.A., that is, not in Iraq where "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," has been scaled down to a cry for the right to stay alive.

"There is a Coup d'etat in progress in the U.S.A.," said Daniel Cabrera, an El Cerrito resident and member of the Green Party. "It's not only Bush -- the Democrats are part of the problem, too," he said.

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