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Visalia - March 20
by Visalia
Sunday Mar 21st, 2004 10:35 PM
Pictures from the Visalia anti war rally. About 100 people came for the event sponsored by the South Valley Peace Center.
PEACEFUL PROTEST IN VISALIA – A Participant's View – Bill Warner
Prior to the beginning of the "pre-emptive" attack on Iraq one year ago, peace protestors gathered in Visalia at “peace corner,” (Walnut and Visalia) in Visalia every Sunday for eight months. I was there from the outset, and would like to give a few personal impressions of the protest in Tulare County then and now. Saturday, March 20, on the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a peaceful peace vigil was held there, the first of this nature since the beginning of the U.S. attack. Nearly 100 protesters aged 6 to 86, many of whom had never carried a sign before, came out to show their opposition to the U.S. occupation.

The four-hour protest saw many passing motorists honking approval and flashing the "V" peace sign as they drove by at about a 30-1 positive expression of support. The number of negative comments as evidenced by shouting or making obscene gestures was markedly less that during the before-the-war protests and seemed to be largely coming from teen-aged white males who, according to one ex-Army protester, had probably never been out of Tulare County and a few fiftyish white males driving large, new vehicles (retired military?).

The mood of the country seems to be changing. As our regular troops are finding their enlistments extended for a year, reservists finding themselves committed to long-term service, veterans benefits being cut, and the re-institution of the draft on the horizon, and the daily “sitting duck” position our troops find themselves in, even our soldiers there are beginning to wonder why they are there. Iraq is on the brink of a civil war resulting from our destabilization of the country, and American soldiers and the Iraqi civilians who are cooperating with the U.S. Army of occupation are being killed on a daily basis by people who resent us as occupiers rather than liberators. As more and more of the lies which got the American public to support the war (such as the “weapons of mass destruction,” and the lack of connection between Saddam Hussein and his mortal enemy Osama Bin Laden) come to light, popular support for the invasion which was supposed to make the world a safer place is waning. Al Qu'ida's strength is growing as new recruits pour into the ranks of those who want the U.S. to get out and leave them alone. The astronomical costs of the occupation and the 7.3 trillion dollar national debt are being recognized as something which will certainly not be paid off by this generation, or any generation in the foreseeable future.

The messages borne by the peace demonstrators are reflected by the themes of their signs: “End the Occupation,” “U.S. Out, U.N. In,” “Support out Troops, Bring them Home!,” “Still Lying- Still Dying,” “Quagmire Accomplished,” “Jobs, Not Guns,” "Repeal the Patriot Act,” and “Impeach Bush.”

People in Tulare County who would like to get involved with peace, social justice, defending the U.S. Constitution and civil rights, and non-violent conflict resolution are invited to visit the website of the organization which grew out of the prewar protests,

Bill Warner – former U.S. Marine and retired history teacher

§Visalians say No To War!
by Visalia Sunday Mar 21st, 2004 10:35 PM

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