Activists say peace movement is growing in Vermont

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(Host) A growing number of Vermonters are turning out at demonstrations and vigils to express opposition to U.S. policy toward Iraq. Activists say many people who didn’t speak out against military action in Afghanistan are voicing their concerns about a war with Iraq.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) When Vice President Dick Cheney visited Burlington last month about three hundred demonstrators turned out. When Ari Fleischer, President Bush’s press secretary, spoke in Middlebury a week ago, the turnout was much larger and much more vocal.

Joseph Gainza is with the Quaker American Friends Service Committee in Vermont. Gainza says the anti-war movement has been active all along. He says the media hasn’t been covering it. But he acknowledges that recent talk of war with Iraq has mobilized more people.

(Gainza) “We’re seeing a lot more interest. People have been calling the office, asking how they can become involved. I’ve been getting emails from people whom I don’t know, asking what’s going on in the state, what kind of activities can they join in.”

(Zind) Organizers say several chartered buses will take Vermonters to a demonstration in Washington D.C. this weekend. Those who can’t make the trip will rally in Montpelier.

College students are also stirring. Nathan Moore is a University of Vermont student. Moore says many students who supported military action against Afghanistan are opposed to a war with Iraq.

(Moore) “It was a lot more difficult than now to organize against the war in Afghanistan. So we’re in a different position now. [The number of] people questioning the war in Iraq is a lot more sizeable than questioning the war in Afghanistan.

(Zind) Kate Scheurman is a student at Dartmouth College. She’s been helping spearhead a petition drive and campus teach-ins. Scheurman says her group has been passing out materials to support their arguments against a war.

(Scheurman) “When we put up our tables there were some people who came up and said, ‘I’m so glad to see this, how can I help.’ There were also people who came up and argued. We had some heated debates. Other people, I think are still making up their minds. I think that more people than I would imagine, I hate to say this, but it’s probably true, are on the side of, ‘Maybe we should go to war with Iraq.'”

(Zind) Scheurman and Moore say there’s still a sizeable number of students who haven’t formed an opinion about the U.S. going to war with Iraq.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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