Article from the Albuquerque Journal:

PDF version of this article. Flyers and Pictures from the event.

January 19, 2003
Thousands March in Albuquerque to Oppose a U.S. Invasion of Iraq
By Lloyd Jojola
Albuquerque Journal

In what some observers called the largest peace rally in Albuquerque since the Vietnam War, thousands marched Saturday to speak out loudly against a United States war with Iraq.

"I feel like the anti-war movement is growing stronger and getting more powerful," said Bob Anderson, an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico and a member of the Committee to Stop the War Machine. "This is just an example of it, the power that's in the grass roots of this country. People are seriously and deeply opposed to what (President Bush's) administration is carrying out."

A noontime rally at the Truman Gate of Kirtland Air Force Base, which organizers estimate numbered between 2,000 and 3,000 people, was the first link in a chain of peace events. Another rally followed at UNM from which there was a Central Avenue march that went from the university to a gathering at Robinson Park Downtown.

The peace demonstrations were part of similar events that took place the same day in cities across the country and throughout the world.

Well before noon, people were lining the streets of Gibson SE at Kirtland's Truman Gate flashing the peace sign or carrying peace signs and letting their voices be heard.

"I have seven children," 50-year-old Anna Puma said, breaking into tears. "I don't want them to inherit another war, bloodshed and confusion."

"I want a world with peace," said Puma, a small business owner who had arrived from Los Lunas. "I want our leaders to be able to sit down at the table and negotiate."

Antonio Armijo, 41, a cook who lives in the Wells Park neighborhood, stood along Gibson holding his "Give Peace a Chance" neon-yellow sign.

"I feel like Bush keeps pushing this war," said Armijo, who wants diplomacy to be the course of action. "He doesn't care what people think."

The Truman Gate crowd kept the noise level up as a string of anti-war activists took turns speaking. There was a sea of signs with messages ranging from "No War Against Iraq" and "Drop Bush. Not Bombs," to "Dying for Dollars" and "No War for Oil." Between speakers, protesters sang "Down By the Riverside" and other songs.

"I'm here for the love of my country and the love of people like you," Sam Parks, 83, a World War II veteran and member of Veterans for Peace, told the crowd.

"Our objective is to serve the cause of world peace," he said. "Make people in this country aware of the cost of war, in human cost as well as in dollars and cents. ... We don't want any more people, any more American young men or women to be sent 9,000 miles away to fight a war, because we have too many gold star mothers and gold star wives." The gold star is displayed to represent members of the U.S. armed forces killed in war.

The highlight of the Truman Gate rally was when Amy Goodman, nationally known host of "Democracy Now!" a radio and television show took the microphone and told the crowd she was glad that the people on Kirtland Air Force Base "can hear that there are thousands of people who are standing up against war."

Goodman's radio show can be heard in Albuquerque from Monday through Friday at 4 p.m. on KUNM, 89.9 FM.

"Like that sign says," she said, pointing into the crowd, " 'Peace is Patriotic.' ''

She said innocent civilians stand to be the war losers.

"Let's not make any mistake about it," Goodman said. "It is not Saddam Hussein who has a target on his forehead today. It is a little girl in Iraq. Because the overwhelming number of people who die in war are innocent civilians. So we have to make that decision today whether that little girl or that teenage boy or that grandfather in Basra deserves to die.

"We have to ask the question 'Why?' I think you are presenting an alternative today. You should call the major media and let them know where you are."

Concluding, she said: "This, today, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the face of America that should be broadcast around the world."

Linda Anderson, a teacher, and Lauren Addario, stood along Central at Sycamore, holding handmade peace signs as marchers passed.

They drove from Las Vegas, N.M., to attend the rally.

"It's sort of putting your body where your mouth is," Anderson said. "I'm opposed to spending our gross national product to kill people. It's as simple as that."

The marchers at one point stretched at least eight blocks Downtown.

"One, two, three, four, we don't want your racist war!," Fiona Sinclair of New Mexico Solidarity Network said leading the Robinson Park crowd. "Five, six, seven, eight, we don't want to escalate!"

Bethany Woody, a 17-year-old Valley High School student, went to the Downtown rally with several friends.

She needed to show up to let leaders know that the war isn't wanted, she said.

"I'm amazed," she said. "I'm stoked at the amount of people who came out. It's great. It's an amazing energy."