Students and Faculty Attend Anti-War Rally

Trekking to New York City this past weekend, several Phillips Academy students and faculty joined thousands of activists in protesting the Bush administration’s proposed offensive against Iraq. Although the school did not sponsor any official transportation or organization for those wishing to participate in the event, students joined the Sweet Honey Society, a coalition dedicated to “challenging human oppression in all its forms,” at the mass rally. Among those students who made the journey to New York City, Charles Beaman ’03 remarked, “there was a profound sense of nationalism.” Although the rally marked the first peace protest in which he had participated, Beaman commented that the massive throngs of people present at the demonstration made him feel that “a huge portion of our generation [opposes] the threat of war.” He continued, “I left with a newfound confidence in our generation’s basic beliefs.” Instructor in English Seth Bardo was also struck by the sheer numbers of demonstrators present at the event, observing, “It was truly amazing. There were just thousands of people.” The rally, which began on Friday outside the United Nations headquarters on 49th Street and First Avenue in Manhattan, initially attracted public attention because of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s refusal to negotiate with the protesters. Despite the blizzard conditions, dozens of speakers, including celebrities Danny Glover and Susan Sarandon, United States Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and poets from Def Poetry Jam voiced their opinions on the potential war. Participants unable to approach close enough to the loudspeakers opted to tune their radios to special stations broadcasting the day’s program. The New York rally became a major source of national controversy, after it was reported that members of the New York City Police Department attempted to prevent some protesters from embarking on their intended route. Overall, nearly five thousand police officers were called into duty. According to the Cable News Network, the police arrested approximately three hundred protesters during Saturday’s march in Manhattan, with most offenses for disorderly conduct. Protests against the potential war with Iraq did not occur in the US alone, with major demonstrations occurring last Saturday in Amsterdam, London, Istanbul, Paris, Jakarta, Rome, and dozens of other cities on every continent. The anti-war events represented part of a worldwide effort to persuade the Bush administration to rethink its position on military action in Iraq and in the Middle East in general. It is estimated that more than ten million demonstrators turned out for various marches held across the globe last Saturday. According to United for Peace & Justice, a campaign consisting of several anti-war organizations throughout the nation, nearly five hundred thousand protesters voiced their opinions in New York last weekend. In the New England area, the American Friends Service Committee sponsored a series of buses to transport activists. For a fee of $30, participants could purchase a round trip fair from Boston to the mass gathering on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. On the PA campus, the Sweet Honey Society exists as the most prominent supporter of the anti-war cause. In addition to demonstrating against the war with Iraq, members of the society are also dedicated to multiculturalism at the Academy, as well as the preservation of the environment and the Earth’s resources. The Sweet Honey Society is most visible in its daily lunchtime vigils around the flagpole in front of Commons. Joining together to express unification against further sanctions and war against Iraq, the members hold ties with the American Friends Service Committee’s “No More Victims” campaign.