Students respond to gulf war
By Andrea Lamberti
Across the country on Saturday, thousands demonstrated in response to the Persian Gulf war. The rallies and marches included anti-war protests and demonstrations of support for the troops and Operation Desert Storm.
Saturday's activities included the first of two planned marches in Washington, DC.
Over 3000 people turned out to protest the war in Boston, the largest crowd to demonstrate in New England since fighting broke out Jan. 16, the Boston Globe estimated. About 30 members of the MIT Initiative for Peace took part in the rally, which began with speeches at Government Center and continued at Boston Common.
At least 25-30 more MIT students participated in the rally, said Jory D. Bell '91, a member of the Initiative for Peace.
A group in support of US troops and their actions also marched in downtown Boston on Saturday.
The two groups nearly clashed as their paths crossed at the intersection of Beacon Street and Tremont Street, but police wearing riot helmets kept the two groups apart. The anti-war demonstrators continued marching to the Common, and the troop supporters went in the opposite direction to rally in Government Center.
Speakers voice opposition
to Persian Gulf war
Speakers at the anti-war rally questioned the United States' decision to take action in the Persian Gulf, and many invoked the lessons of the Vietnam War to emphasize their anti-war stance.
Some anti-war protesters maintained that they support the troops in the gulf. "We support our troops so much that we do not want a single one of them dying," Elizabeth Walker of the Cambridge and Somerville National Organization for Women said.
After the march from Government Center to Boston Common, demonstrators continued to speak out against the war throughout the afternoon.
Louis Kampf, professor of literature at MIT, said he admired the people at the rally who "stay awake [for] speech after speech after speech." He said he had been attending rallies since 1948, and urged people to "stick with it."
"Hug the person next to you and turn that hate and anger to peace," Kampf urged the crowd.
MIT students show support
of troops, Desert Storm
The Initiative for Peace has been organizing since the fall, and has sponsored activities, workshops and lectures on campus since a few days before the war began.
Since last weekend, at least two separate efforts to show support for the troops in the gulf or for the military effort have developed.
Monday, the newly-formed MIT Students in Support of Operation Desert Storm held its first rally in front of Kresge Auditorium. The rally drew about about 25-30 people, Sharra L. Davidson '91, organizer of the group, said.
The group planned a march to Harvard Square, Davidson said, but due to cold weather marched on Memorial Drive and Amherst Alley.
Some members of the Initiative for Peace attended the rally, apparently misled by the troop-supporting group's posters. The two groups support the troops in drastically different ways, Davidson said. "We are not in support of our troops by bringing them home. . . . We are in support of our government, and we just want [the troops] to know that."
In an apparent response to actions by peace activists throughout the country, MIT Students in Support of Operation Desert Storm is against stopping traffic, "graffiti, [or] anything that would create conflict at home," Davidson said.
MIT students send
letters to troops
In another display of support for US troops, Julie Gupta '91 and Kathleen J. Nothnagle '92 sponsored a letter-writing campaign to US troops in the gulf.
Between 200 and 300 people wrote letters to troops from mid-Saturday until yesterday at 8 pm, Gupta said.
The goal of the campaign was "to write letters to the troops, regardless of why they're there or whether they want to be there," Gupta said. The campaign was meant to be non-partisan.
"We wanted to have an outlet for both pro- and anti-[war] people to let the troops know they care," Nothnagle said.
The two have no immediate plans for another letter campaign.
Gupta and Nothnagle provided the postage and stationery for the letter writers.