Protesters demonstrate across the state

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(Host) For weeks, war protesters in Vermont have been planning to take action as soon as the hostilities in Iraq began. Thursday, demonstrators took to the streets in a number of Vermont communities to speak out against the war.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Burlington police officer) “If there’s an emergency, this completely disables us.”
(Protest organizer) “Please understand – this is the people, this is not the leadership. I said go to Church Street and they took to the streets.”

(Zind) Five hundred protestors spilled off the sidewalks and into the streets of Burlington as police tried to keep traffic moving Thursday afternoon. Organizers tried to put the disruption in perspective.

(Burlington protester) “I ask people how they would feel if they were in Baghdad right now. I understand the fire department is inconvenienced, I understand the police are inconvenienced, I understand the drivers are inconvenienced. But bombs are falling on Baghdad right now. And people need to realize this minor inconvenience doesn’t compare to what’s happening in the Middle East.”

(Zind) Neither the rain nor the beginning of the war dampened the protestors’ opposition to military action in Iraq. In Montpelier, more than 200 demonstrators stood in the rain outside the federal building.

(Montpelier protester) “I’m out here today because the same reasons hold true today as they did yesterday. The one thing that keeps me out here is simply that war kills and war kills innocent people. And I just cannot have that on my conscience.”

(Zind) The protestors marched to the statehouse for what was billed as a “Democratic People’s Assembly.” The group took up a resolution condemning military action against Iraq and calling for the arrest of administration officials for war crimes.

In Brattleboro, about 150 demonstrators took to the streets and several Brattleboro businesses closed briefly. The businesses say they plan to observe a daily 15 minutes for peace as long as the war continues.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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