WEB War protesters send their signal to president

By Jeffrey Pieters

They were called everything from "garbage" to "whiners," suffered through one of the more chilly days yet this fall, and didn't even get much of a chance to get their point across.

But war protesters massed outside University Center Rochester on Friday during President Bush's visit weren't utterly daunted.

"It's very worthwhile whenever you can stand up for what you believe," said Sister Marlys Jax.


"The important thing for us is to be here," she said.

At its peak, about 175 people were part of the protest, lining the road south of the campus.

That number dropped considerably after Bush arrived to give his speech, exiting his limousine on the opposite side of the athletic building.

About half an hour later, Bush/Coleman supporters leaving the athletic building got into a cross-street shouting match with the protesters.

"Where's your flag?" yelled Tim Pope, an Apple Valley, Minn., man holding a flag in one hand and a Coleman campaign sign in the other. "You're not American?"

Protesters said their war opposition could be misconstrued as anti-Americanism.

"It is too bad it comes off as anti-military personnel," Joan Verdegan said. "I have the greatest respect for people in the service."

For many protesters, the primary objection to a potential war in Iraq is that the United States might not have international support for its actions.


In addition, some said, the administration has failed to prove its case, that Iraq poses a security threat.

"I definitely think (Iraqi President Saddam Hussein) is a threat," said Ramla Bile, a Century High School senior. But "war should be the last resort."

Bile and two classmates, all members of Century's Young Democrats, attended the protest.

Two of them -- Bile and Jessica Horn, also a senior -- attended Bush's speech.

"I'm going to see him today," Horn said. "I'm getting to see exactly what I'm fighting against."

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