Anti-war protest draws former Green Party representative candidate

Following Tuesday’s demonstration at the Alma Mater, members of the community gathered a the corner of Neil and Main Streets in Champaign for a monthly protest against the war in the Middle East Saturday afternoon.

The protests are organized by the Anti War, Anti Racism Effort (AWARE) and have been occurring on the first Saturday of each month since shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, said Karen Medina.

The demonstrations were originally held near North Prospect Avenue but moved to Neil and Main Streets due to counter protests at the same location, better weather conditions and increased amount of traffic, she added.

“I’m out here because the administration continues its war policy in the Middle East and it’s doing it in spite of a political process over the last year or so in which they held out the possibility that the policy would change,” said Carl Estabrook, retired University professor.

Current University academic professional and citizen of Urbana, Rohn Koester, was also present and offered his reason for protesting.

“I don’t feel like there is a credible concept of victory at this point,” Koester said. “What’s happening now is they’re extending the war in order to create a kind of rhetorical victory.”

The protest consisted of approximately 15 to 25 participants throughout the course of two hours.

Many of the protesters felt that the demonstration was an effective means of getting their opinions across to other community members although they were mixed on it’s effectiveness for bringing change.

“If we can make a few more people aware and conscious of what’s going on, that would help but as for stimulating any profound changes, I’m not sure that’s happening,” said Ron Szoke, retired University academic professional and Champaign community member.

The protests have had a direct effect on local Congressman, Tim Johnson, Estabrook said. He recently took a call from Johnson, who told him that he intended to vote against further funding for wars in the Middle East.

“He didn’t say this, but I will tell you that one of reasons he’s doing that is the on-going demonstrations and the fact that there are a lot of people who are concerned about it and have been telling him that for years, so it does have an effect,” Estabrook said.

Estabrook ran against Congressman Johnson as a green party candidate in 2002.