Students stage die-in on Quad

Donald Eggert

By Paolo Cisneros

Thursday morning was an unusual one for Karen Medina, graduate student in library and information sciences. Instead of studying for exams or sitting in class, she was chalking body outlines on the Quad.

Medina and dozens of other anti-war activists took to the streets Thursday morning to stage a march and “die-in” protest as a way of demonstrating their discontent with the upcoming fifth anniversary of the Iraq war.

“We’re calling it a ‘condemoration’ because we’re both condemning and commemorating the war,” Medina said.

The two-hour event was organized primarily by the Campus Greens and University chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Students for Justice in Palestine, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice and the College Democrats co-sponsored the event.

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The cooperation of the groups was a large part of the morning’s success, said Jeremy Polacek, senior in LAS. “We (Campus Antiwar Network) don’t have a monopoly on the anti-war effort by any means,” he said. “The collaboration of these groups was really important.”

The demonstration began at roughly 11 a.m. Activists gathered to chant anti-war slogans before marching down Green Street to Fifth Street and then back around the Quad.

Many held signs condemning the war as others provided vocal support for the cause.

“This war has been going on for five years now, and, at this point, most people are against it,” said Mark Mallon, junior in LAS. “We need to stop spending billions of dollars on this illegal and immoral war.”

Lori Serb of Urbana said that the demonstration was meant to draw attention to more than just the U.S. policy in Iraq.

“There were a lot of good issues that came up,” she said. “It’s not just about one country’s occupation. “It’s about ending the military-industrial complex.”

As the march around the Quad came to an end, participants stationed themselves in front of the Union. They listened to other activists speak out against the war before lying down on the sidewalk during the 11:50 a.m.-noon passing period.

Other demonstrators traced their outlines in chalk as if they were corpses in an effort to make passersby understand the human impact of the war, said Pete Rhomberg, sophomore in LAS.

Rachel Adams, junior in Education, watched the protest from the tables in front of the Union. The die-in, she said, was an effective way of getting people to think about the consequences of the war.

“It definitely made people pay attention,” she said. “It was done very peacefully as well. You didn’t feel like they were cramming anything down your throat.”

Organizers estimated that 40-50 people took part in the march. Aside from a few “dirty looks” they reported no overtly negative responses.

Rhomberg said the demonstration was meant to coincide with the Campus Antiwar Network’s “Week of Action” during which chapters of Campus Antiwar Network are holding protests and rallies of their own.

“It’s aimed at building the student movement,” he said. “Hopefully the die-in will be the lasting effect.”

For activists like Medina, taking part in the demonstration was a way of contributing to a cause they described as having huge ramifications for college students.

“A lot of people that should be students here aren’t because they’re out there fighting,” she said.