---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 13:13:04 -0700
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Protesters preach value of lives (Fort Bragg)
Protesters preach value of lives
By Matt Leclercq
Soldiers seemed perplexed by the anti-war protesters standing on a curb
near Fort Bragg.
Others waved their fists, cursed or just laughed.
Whatever the reaction Monday, chances were it was not welcoming.
That's Fayetteville, a city that has never been warm to the kinds of public
demonstrations that question war - at least not since Vietnam. More common
are rallies supporting troops during times
of crisis. When conflicts do bring picketers to Fort Bragg, they sometimes
find themselves outnumbered by locals protesting the protest.
Monday's vigil was small - nine adults and a dozen children, all belonging
to the Catholic Workers Movement from elsewhere in North Carolina and
Virginia. They held signs advocating peace, and some wore costumes to
represent Iraqi mothers carrying dead babies.
They stood at a corner of Yadkin Road near Fort Bragg's gate. Their
message: Soldiers should
think about the United States' motives for war with Iraq.
"Your Life is worth more than oil," one sign read. "Choose not to kill,"
"I think this thing with Iraq is pretty transparent," said Patrick O'Neill
of Garner, one of the
organizers. "Do you want to die for corporate America? I don't think
(soldiers) want to. We
want to say to soldiers, 'give it some thought.'"
Protest in Raleigh
On Sunday, a similar protest with 100 to 200 people lined a busy intersection
near Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh. They held the same kinds of signs,
calling for peace and warning against war's inevitable casualties. That group
got cheers, thumbs up and honks from motorists.
In Fayetteville, no one was outwardly encouraging. A few motorists appeared
to be discreetly positive, such as one man who made a peace sign with his
Another man made an offensive gesture. People yelled "Wackos!" and "Go
home!" Within minutes after their arrival at 1 p.m., two military police
made the protesters move off the corner, which is on Fort Bragg property.
The group crossed Yadkin to land that is in the city limits.
But MPs called Fayetteville police, who arrived and watched the hourlong
protest from a block away.
At previous protests since the war on terrorism began, passers-by who
disagreed with demonstrators have started their own protests. O'Neill was one
of 30 people who stood at the same Yadkin Road corner in January, angering
others who decided to stand across the street with signs encouraging motorists
to "Stop Hippie-ism" and "Honk if you support the troops."
Times were different during the late 1960s and early 1970s, with
anti-Vietnam sentiment mounting
across the country. A 1970 rally in Fayetteville attracted 2,000 people,
including Jane Fonda.
Since Mike D'Arcy arrived at Fort Bragg seven years ago, he had only seen
one other protest before Monday. He and his brother pulled into a gas
station to stare in disbelief.
"The country is already in bad shape," D'Arcy said. "We don't need crazy
lunatics from 1962 protesting war."
D'Arcy took a medical retirement from the Army and now owns Airborne Boot
Shop on Yadkin Road, about two blocks from the Fort Bragg gate. He
disagreed that the United States is only thinking about oil in threatening
to unseat Saddam Hussein.
"All the people killed in New York City wasn't over oil," he said.
'Arcy's brother, Nick Batenburg, is a 20-year-old private in the Army. He
shook his head while reading the protesters' signs.
"We're under enough stress without looking at lunatics," he said.
But several of the protesters have helped soldiers who find the stress
of military life too much to bear, said Lenore Yarger, who drove from
Chatham County. She helps soldiers who call the GI Rights Hot Line. More
soldiers have hesitations about a possible war with Iraq than they are
able to express, she said.
"People's livelihoods here are built around the military," she said.
"There's much greater risk to be opposed to war than for a civilian."
Staff writer Matt Leclercq can be reached at 486-3551 or
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