Area residents march in D.C.


Published: Sunday, January 19, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 19, 2003 at 12:46 a.m.
WASHINGTON - Monica Mulhern raised one end of an 18-foot yellow banner declaring "Florida says no war on Iraq!" and chanted "No blood for oil" with tens of thousands of protesters outside the Capitol on Saturday.
The 45-year-old piano teacher from Gainesville was among about 500 people from Florida who piled into buses and vans to trek hundreds of miles for the rally against war with Iraq.
"It's economic racism," she said, explaining why she participated in the protest with about 60 others from Gainesville. "We have concerns at home. We can't afford war. Killing is immoral,"
Protesters carried signs that said, "Money for jobs not war," "Disarm Bush" and "Regime Change in Washington."
Filing off buses that had traveled from California, Michigan, Maine, Minnesota, the Carolinas, Florida and other states, the throngs braved 20-degree temperatures to wage a preemptive attack on the Bush administration's anticipated effort to topple Saddam Hussein from power.
Colorful signs with catchy slogans weren't the only eye grabbers. Jeffry Buechler, of Blacksburg, Va., stripped down to his briefs and allowed fellow protestors to draw peace symbols all over his body with black markers. "Sign up for peace," he yelled as every muscled shivered.
The rally drew a mix of ages and backgrounds. For some, this was a first contribution to the time-honored tradition of mass protests on the Mall. Many of the middle-aged protesters said they demonstrated there against the Vietnam War.
Joe Richard, a 15-year-old from Gainesville who traveled to Capitol Hill with his father, organized eight other students from Eastside High School to join the trip.
"The war in Iraq is just a bad idea," he said, wearing a green beret and a pink bandana tied around his neck. "It affects all of us."
Most protesters repeated the argument against the first war with Iraq that it is motivated by oil. Others said they believe it's an effort to distract attention from the U.S. economy, Israel's crackdown on Palestinians and other global concerns.
Sara Iglesias, a bus organizer for the Gainesville group, said the protest shows that opposition to war with Iraq is building. Iglesias said calls for war send the signal that "terrorism is legitimate when it comes from governments. We don't agree."

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