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Marching for peace

April 5, 2007

Every Monday at 6 p.m. people meet at Hagestad Hall to march down North Main Street and back, in an effort to promote peace and justice.

The marches, led by the River Falls Campus and Community Peace and Justice Group, formed under a different name prior to the United States invasion of Iraq.  They were originally called the River Falls Campus and Community Peace Group, but changed their name as their cause grew to encompass social justice and peace issues.

Jackie Brux, one of the leaders of the group, began working with the UW-River Falls student Amnesty International group several years ago.  In an e-mail she discussed the group. 

“We decided to hold weekly peace marches, and I advertised these both campus- and community-wide. There was wide-spread campus and community support for this,” Brux said.

Brux said campus and community opposition to the war expanded, so the group began more activities such as candlelight vigils, community discussions, campus debate and potluck dinners.  At the dinners, which are still held on the first Monday of every month following the marches, the group holds discussions regarding war and social justice related issues.

The group now has over 100 members, and Brux said community support continues to grow.

“During our peace march yesterday [March 19], so many of the people who were driving and walking by us were honking and waving and giving us the peace sign,” Brux said, “I think this strong show of support confirms what the media has reported, that the public wants this war to come to an end.”

In January 2007 President Bush announced the United States was going to send an additional 20,000 or more troops to Iraq in an effort to stop a surge of violence that had been occurring. 

“We have felt a strong need to ‘speak out’ strongly once again after the president announced the ‘surge’ and it became obvious that this strategy would not work,” Brux said.

She also said she believes Bush is avoiding direct negotiations with the rest of the world, and she is frustrated that legislators put politics over “the need to take a strong stand against the war.”

On Monday there were about 12 people at the march, mostly community members and one UWRF student.

Doug Holden, a River Falls resident, historian and Vietnam veteran, had a lot to say about his views on the war and United States foreign policy in general.

“I’ve been involved with peace movements for 45-50 years,” Holden said, “I think there are other ways to approach things other than armed conflict.” 

He said he believes keeping Americans in Iraq will only lead to more violence, and that the United States entered the war for reasons beyond the promotion of peace in Iraq.

UWRF student David Till is a veteran of the war in Iraq.  He said the people of Iraq need the United States, and that he has no doubt the military is there to help people.

“I know for sure you can’t just say, fend for yourself,” Till said.

UWRF senior Nick Shillingford, a founding member of the UWRF Socialist Alternative group, was the only student at the march. 

“It’s not really a war in the interest of the American people or the Iraqi people,” Shillingford said.

He said that he believes there are selfish political and economic motives behind the war.

Brux said the group plans to continue the marches until the war is over.

“Our marches have always been lawful, peaceful, and respectful, and we have gained the respect and support of the community as a result,” Brux said, “All like-minded campus and community members are welcome to join us.”

For more information, Brux can be contacted at jacqueline.m.brux@uwrf.edu.