Story last updated at 4:44 p.m. Thursday, October 17, 2002

War plans spark protest
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

photo: news

  Photos by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
Ruthe Schoder-Ehri looks out from behind her sign and Jo Going shows her feelings during a Thursday afternoon protest against the Bush Administration's efforts to get congressional approval for a potential war in Iraq. The rally started slowly but grew to include some three dozen people. Several pro-Bush demonstrators also showed up.  
Roughly three dozen people gathered on Pioneer Avenue in front of the Kachemak Bowl on Thursday afternoon to protest the Bush Administration's move toward military action in the Middle East.

While they waved at passing vehicles and held signs that questioned the sanity and motivation for such action, a group of four young people stood across the street and gave voice to the pro-Bush position.

The anti-war protest, orchestrated by the group Kindness Without Borders, coincided with a 296-133 House vote in favor of a resolution backing the President's position.

The resolution gives the President congressional approval to take pre-emptive military steps to end threats the administration claims are posed by Iraq. In addition, it calls for a concerted diplomatic effort to proceed any pre-emptive military strike on Iraq. The Department of State has said it is making headway in its pursuit of a new United Nations resolution on Iraq -- demanding a full disclosure and dismantling of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and threatening military action for Iraqi noncompliance.

"If all this saber-rattling is to get Saddam Hussein's attention, I'm frightened if that's the best method of doing it," protester Rick Foster said, adding that he was sure that America's image in the region would suffer further damage. "Also, once in a while someone is going to call your bluff."

photo: news

  Photo by Sepp Jannotta, Homer News
Five-year-old Elias Gibson and his father Charlie join other peace activists at Thursday's demonstration on the corner of Pioneer Avenue and Lake Street.  
Protesters passed around petitions and called for U.N.-backed inspections rather than military action. There were handouts containing congressional contact information and people were urged to call the Alaska congressional contingent as well as any of a group of senators who have been vocal in their opposition to the administration's plan.

There was hopeful talk that a Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., filibuster might stall a Senate vote on the Iraq resolution and force some rewording. But the Senate passed the resolution first thing Friday morning.

The Alaska congressional delegation all voted in support of the Iraq resolution. Aids with both Alaska's senators said there had been considerable public comment from Alaskans on the resolution.

"It's like Hubert Humphrey said, 'I talk more about mom on Mother's Day than I do on the Fourth of July,'" said Jerry Ritter, an aid to Sen. Frank Murkowski.

On the pro-administration side of Pioneer Avenue on Thursday, Russell Throckmorton quietly held up his "I Love Bush" sign. While he acknowledged there is a need for dialogue among the public and on Capitol Hill before committing troops to the battlefield, he said he strongly believes that if troops are needed, they deserve 100 percent support from the country once they hit the ground in Iraq.

Throckmorton joined the Alaska National Guard in 2000 and said he is ready to join a fight in Iraq if he gets the call.

Sepp Jannotta can be reached at sjannotta@homer