Adding their voices to a series of recent worldwide protests, Yale students and New Haven residents equipped with bongo drums, posters and a giant papier-mache scarecrow marched on the New Haven Green Tuesday to protest the U.S.-led war with Iraq.
Approximately 60 students joined over 100 community members in the protest, which was organized by the Connecticut Peace Coalition. The Yale contingent marched from Cross Campus to the Green, where they joined the other protesters. As police blocked traffic, protesters marched through downtown, chanting “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation.”
While some motorists honked their horns in support of the protesters, others expressed their support for American military action. Harry Flaster ’05 hung an American flag out of his window in Jonathan Edwards College to express solidarity with the war effort.
As American and British troops pushed further into Iraq, protester Kathryn Franklin ’05 said the war with Iraq was immoral.
“The Iraqi conflict makes my heart sick,” Franklin said. “It is our responsibility to help fix the quagmire in Iraq, but we shouldn’t do it by bombing them.”
Noah Cooper ’05, who observed but did not participate in the protest, expressed reservations about participating vocally in anti-war demonstrations.
“This is not a moral war and we shouldn’t be sending troops to Iraq to fight and die,” Cooper said. “But I have slightly mixed feelings. I don’t think that the people who have died already should have died in vain. I’m a little confused about it.”
Following the march, the demonstrators gathered in a large circle on the Green to listen to speeches by fellow protesters. Speakers expressed concerns about a wide range of topics, from America’s motivations for the war and the well-being of Iraqi civilians to the American media’s war coverage.
Sergeant Romano Ratti of the New Haven Police Department praised the conduct of the protesters.
“[The protesters] have been more than peaceful and well-organized and that’s appreciated,” Ratti said.
Saqib Bhatti ’04, a member of the Yale Coalition for Peace who helped plan the Yale portion of the protest, said he was pleased by the number of students who participated in the march.
“I was really happy to see the number of Yalies who came out,” Bhatti said. “I saw a lot of new faces. There were definitely a lot more people here than I expected to see.”
Shikha Bhattacharjee ’06 stressed the need for continuing anti-war demonstrations because they address larger issues of moral government and human rights.
“This anti-war movement is part of a greater struggle to take back the real meaning of democracy and the real meaning of the rights of a people,” Bhattacharjee said. “The best way to support our troops is to bring them home.”