Die-In protest opposes war

University students and campus visitors ate lunch in the warmth of the Union yesterday where they could see about 25 protesters through the windows lying on the cold ground covered with snow.

The protesters, supported by approximately 100 people, laid in the snow for nearly 40 minutes as part of the Die-In to protest the possible war on Iraq.

“The war gets framed as us versus Saddam Hussein, but we forget that the innocent Iraqi people are victims of Saddam and the war,” Brian Rose, an organizer of the protest, said.

The innocent people the protesters were representing also include American soldiers who would die in the war, Rose said. Also in support of the protesters were the Women in Black, members of an international peace network who stand against war.

“I felt the protest went perfectly fine,” Women in Black member Sheri Well-Jenson said. “Anytime you get people thinking about what they believe in and what the government is doing you have succeeded.”

The Women in Black stood away from the protest to give people with children a chance to join them in solidarity, Well-Jenson said.

The war protesters were not the only group standing in the middle of campus with signs –the College Republicans were also there, protesting the protesters.

“We came out because we wanted our voices heard,” said Gregg Pitts, chairman of the College of Republicans. “We don’t feel the campus has the same feeling about the war as the protesters.” According to a public opinion poll, 67 percent of Americans want Iraq disarmed even if it means by force, Pitts said.

Throughout the protest, which started at noon and ended 40 minutes later, signs could be seen in the hands of both groups. Some of the College Republicans’ signs read, “Pacifists suck” and “Don’t take the hippies lying down” among others that generally said that war was necessary.

The signs held by war protester’s included one that read “Love your enemies” and another displaying pictures of Iraqi children. The presence of both College Republicans and war protesters created some tension at the Die-in, but the protest remained peaceful.

“It is a sad event to see people die,” Rose said in explanation of the protester’s silence. “Anger is a non-productive thing to put out there.”

The war protesters had planned the protest to be silent but shouting from the College Republicans did cause some of the observers.

Some of the protesters were unhappy with the presence of the College Republicans. One protester, Erin Crane, was not happy when a member of the College Republicans said the protesters represented the terrorists.

“I don’t know how anyone could have interpreted what we were doing as terrorist behavior,” Crane said. “We were just being patriotic.”

However, some of the College Republicans disagreed that the protest was patriotic in nature.

“These people call themselves Americans, but they are not supporting America,” said Jessica Bertsch, a College Republican.

“The protesters are making it out that America is wrong in declaring a war because we would be killing civilians, but in actuality what we are trying to do is liberate them from their own dictator,” Bertsch said.

As the protest ended, people formed a circle around the protesters lying on the ground. At this point the College Republicans left the protest and the circle of people applauded.

“I was at the protest because I support America and our president,” College Republican Dan Brown said. “Iraq has clearly violated laws set by United Nations.”

Brown said his group was vocal because it was more powerful to be seen and heard.

In contrast, war protester Chuck Little said the protest was silent for a very specific reason.

“Throughout my life experiences I have found that you cannot learn anything with your mouth open. I don’t think the College of Republicans took that into account.”