Dying to get out

September 11 Year of Turmoil

First & 10 2002

Our Town 2002

Peace activists pick up their efforts

Published Thursday, February 7, 2002

Columbia’s peace activists were out in force yesterday, four months after the United States started bombing Afghanistan, to protest the ongoing war against terrorism by holding signs at the city’s busiest intersections. While braving cold temperatures and sometimes hostile drivers, many protesters said they wanted to make people think.

Don Shrubshell photo
Peace activists hold signs yesterday at the corner of Providence Road and Broadway to promote peace and to protest the war in Afghanistan. Another group of protesters held signs at Stadium Boulevard and Providence Road.
"We want to make ourselves visible so people understand we’re not all united behind the goals of the president," specifically bombing Afghanistan and increasing defense spending, said Joan McElroy of Columbia.

Peace activists began demonstrating at the Broadway and Providence Road intersection immediately after the United States began bombing raids in Afghanistan. Yesterday was the first time a rush-hour protest was staged at both intersections - Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard and Providence Road and Broadway.

More than 30 protesters, who came alone or as part of a coalition of pro-peace political and religious groups, held signs at both locations asking drivers to honk their support.

"I’m not against the U.S. defending itself, but in this case, the first thing we did was start throwing bombs at people who don’t even know who we are," protester Rob Nix said, adding that the average Afghan had no involvement in Sept. 11 but is instead a victim of U.S. attacks.

Nix and other protesters said there are people in Columbia with similar opinions but who feel intimidated by popular opinion. The protest and anonymous horn-honking gives them a way to speak their mind.

People should seek out a different perspective on the war than the one offered by the local media outlets, Nix said. Across the intersection from where he stood, protesters held signs that read "Don’t depend on CNN" and "Network news = $ from war." Alternative viewpoints exist, Nix said, but they can’t be found in mainstream media.

The protest yesterday drew a more positive response than previous protests, said Jimmy Lappe, a member of Students for Progressive Action, formerly Campus Peaceworks.

"When we first started doing this, 80 percent of people gave us a negative reaction," Lappe said while waving a sign that read "New Bush, old war" to drivers at the intersection of Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard.

Now, he said, he thinks people are starting to see U.S. involvement in Afghanistan as a protracted war that isn’t really moving forward, and they are not as supportive of the war as they were in October.

Not everyone who drove by yesterday supported the protesters’ message. Activists couldn’t be sure if the drivers honking their horns were honking for peace or for other reasons.

"It’s hard to tell a lot of times. People will honk at us when they’re in agreement with us or if they’re angry at us," Lappe said as the sun set on his group of about 13 protesters.

Up the road at Broadway, McElroy said some people had driven by and said things like, "If you don’t like it here, move to Canada," of "If you lived in Afghanistan, you wouldn’t have the right to hold that sign."

As the protest wore into the 5 o’clock hour and rush-hour traffic increased, one woman slowed her car, rolled down her window and shouted at McElroy’s group: "If you’re not happy here, get the hell out!"

As they moved back from traffic on the road, some of the protesters smiled in response.

Reach Katie Tiernan at (573) 815-1731 or





Copyright © 2003 The Columbia Daily Tribune. All Rights Reserved.

Columbia Daily Tribune

The Columbia Daily Tribune
101 North 4th Street, Columbia, MO 65201

Contact Us | Search | Subscribe