Marchers send message: Give peace a chance

The belief that the country should not go to war with Iraq inspired a group of 15 to march from Olympic College to the Shipyard gates off Pacific Avenue Sunday, Oct. 13.

Local artist Gwendolyn Atwood conceived the idea for the march Thursday evening and felt it was important to act quickly. Friday she went to City Hall and Olympic College and received permission. She crafted signs and distributed hundreds of fliers to inform people it was taking place. It was a long day that she dedicated to the cause of sharing peace.

“I did this to exercise my right for free speech ... Bush and the government is wrong,” Atwood said.

Protesters who attended were motivated by a variety of reasons.

“We are moving too fast on this, there is not the imminent danger to warrant a preemptive strike ... Saddam should be gone, but the Iraqi people, and children should not die,” said Axel Marshal.

Other protesters worried an unpopular attack would isolate the United States, and they aired concern about acting without United Nations support.

“We should consider the consequences of alienating world allies, such as China, Russia, and France. ... The countries surrounding Iraq didn’t feel threatened, why should we?” said Dan Kohel, a Bremerton resident.

At 1 p.m., Atwood stood at a portable podium and called for silence. She stressed that the protest was peaceful, and invited the audience to make five-minute speeches.

“We should never be a country that starts wars, but the country that stops them,” said speaker Scott Buckingham.

Faith in peaceful solutions drew Pamela Kruse-Buckingham of the Kitsap Historical Museum to the rally. She planned to save some of the protest signs as artifacts.

The attendance grew, but the event remained informal and amiable. A young boy rode his bike with the crowd, and one marcher brought his dogs. Two police on motorcycles escorted the march, blocking off side streets and intersections. Atwood said the escort was an example of how city officials care about free speech.

Many cars honked their horns to support the march, and Natasha Coghill stopped her car to join the march with her daughter, Zodiac.

“This war is filled with intolerance and hate, all things this country is not supposed to stand for,” Coghill said.

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