March in October

Lynn Burton

Joel Weddell, 17, carried a sign that on one side said, “Drop Bush, not bombs.” On the other side, it said, “Bush is a bad beer, and a worse president.””He thought that one up,” Weddell said, motioning toward his friend, Alex Boda.Weddell and Boda were among the first to arrive at Sayre Park for Saturday afternoon’s peace march. While the pair talked and surveyed the slowly gathering crowd, march organizers squatted on the grass behind the gazebo painting signs and faces.Rick Tanberg, 64, wore a red USA hat, and sported a peace sign on one cheek and a heart on the other. “Peace and love,” Tanberg said. “I’m here to promote world peace. … We should use words, not bullets.”

The march, which went from the park to the Hotel Colorado, drew anywhere from 400 to 850 people, depending on who you talked to. Jock Jacober, who said he has worked with livestock and is a good counter, put the crowd at about 400.Felicia Trevor, a volunteer, stationed herself just north of the pedestrian bridge near the hotel, and counted everyone who came over.”I counted 850 people,” Trevor said. “I love counting people at marches.”Saturday’s march was organized by the Roaring Fork Peace Coalition, Mountain Folks for Global Justice, and CMC Students for Peace. The plan was to rally at the park, and march north along Grand Avenue to the Hotel Colorado, where Congressman Scott McInnis has a first floor office. There, march organizers hoped to present McInnis with a petition from Western Slope residents who oppose going to war with Iraq.

McInnis was a no-show at the hotel, but had he been there he might have described the 400 to 850 marchers as sort of a festive pitchfork brigade. Dean Moffatt, a middle aged architect, donned a red, white and blue top hat to go with his blue tails, and waved a “No War” sign at passing cars. There were drummers and a fife player. The chant “No blood for oil. No blood for oil,” went up as the last of the marchers crowded around the hotel’s southwest corner.The rally in the park was scheduled to start at 1 p.m., but that was apparently when people started cruising over from Rifle and Marble. At 12:45 p.m., volunteer shepherds outnumbered marchers.As the crowd slowly grew, marchers came with signs that said, “War is Terrorism,” “Aggression equals aggression,” and “Only 536 shopping days until the end of the world.” One sign said “Hitler” with an arrow pointing to the word “Europe.” Below that, it said “Bush McInnis” with an arrow pointing toward the word “The world.”Jackie Dearborn, from Marble, was one of the first to arrive at the park, and her sign said, “No to war. Sell your Excursion. Buy a Prius.” Both are vehicles, but the Prius gets much better gas mileage than the gas-guzzling Excursion.”I think citizen involvement in protesting something we don’t believe our government is doing correctly is a good idea,” Dearborn said. “A lot of countries pose a threat, but going to war is not the answer.”Weddell, the 17-year-old beer expert, said talk about war with Iraq is everywhere, including the classrooms and halls of Glenwood Springs High School. “There’s no place you can go to avoid it,” Weddell said. “You’ve got to get involved. … I don’t think we should attack Iraq.”Bonnie Broetzman stood with two friends and held a sign that said “Republicans for Peace.” She joked she was carrying the sign for a friend, then “I believe there has to be a peaceful solution.”Britt Gamboa, who was born in Mexico City, said she came to the march after talking to a friend who thinks “all Americans” think war is the answer. “I’m the witness that’s not true,” she explained.Kathryn Preston, who has a role in Defiance Community Players production of “Godspell,” came breezing into the park just before the speakers took to the gazebo. When asked her views, Preston thought for a second then said, “We’re using our military as henchmen for corporate big business, which is wrong. This has nothing to do with my protection, your protection or our security. It’s about personal political interests.”The link between the U.S. government and big business, particularly big oil, was mentioned several times by gazebo speakers. Calvin Lee, the march organizer, told the crowd U.S. troops are in the Middle East to protect oil interests.”Bush and his oil buddies want a piece of that pie,” Lee said. He also listed countries like Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Indonesia and others, where the United States has interfered, then said, “It’s all about corporate interests.”Not everyone in Sayre Park supported the marchers. Near the rest rooms a couple of hundred feet from the gazebo, a couple of derelicts lounged around with their dogs, and one yelled, “Shut up, you hippies.”It took about 10 minutes to empty the park as the crowd traipsed two and three abreast north to the hotel. There were reports the line of marchers was a quarter-mile long. As they marched downtown and approached the pedestrian bridge, shop workers stood in doorways and waved signs, or shouted encouragement. Throughout the rally and march, cars on Grand Avenue honked their horns. A white poodle stuck his head out the window when his owner honked near City Market. A guy driving a new Volvo station wagon flashed the peace sign when he honked in front of Gold Ring Pawn.The marchers were mostly middle-aged, with a smattering of folks in their 20s. At the hotel, the marchers spilled along both sides of 6th Street, and north onto Pine. A pair of police cars were parked in front of the hotel at the intersection of 6th Street and Grand Avenue. Two police officers kept marchers on the sidewalk, and off the hotel’s lawn.The action at the hotel lasted about 30 minutes, and at times the crowd chanted “Shame on McInnis. Shame on McInnis,” and the call and response “What do we want? Peace! When to we want it? Now!” A singer tried to get John Lennon’s “Power to the People” going with the crowd, but it didn’t catch on.When it became obvious that McInnis was not in the building, some marchers set out to encircle the hotel. “This is what democracy looks like,” shouted organizer Sue Gray to the marchers behind her as they headed toward the hotel’s alley. Others started drifting back over the pedestrian bridge for the walk back to the park.A few marchers attempted to enter the hotel, where a model railroad group had set up displays for their annual get together. In an afternoon whose focus was preventing a bloody war, Sheila Markowitz ended up getting the maddest, but her anger had nothing to do with George Bush or Iraq. Markowitz said she wanted to go into the hotel after the march to see the trains.”They wouldn’t let marchers in,” Markowitz said. “The police said we have to walk away then come back. I asked them how far away we had to walk, and they didn’t know.”

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