As President Bush continued lobbying world leaders Saturday to attack Iraq, nearly 300 area residents marched down Massachusetts Street to protest the use of force against the Middle Eastern nation.
Organized by the Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice, the march began at 10 a.m. in Buford M. Watson Jr. Park and ended with a brief rally in South Park. Some pushed strollers and almost all sweated in the midmorning sun as drum beats and quiet conversation led the marchers down the street.
One participant carried a sign that read, "Peace in honor of 9-11," while a placard around a dog opined, "Bush and Cheney need U.N. Obedience Training."
The march occurred a day after Bush called on the leaders of Russia, China and France for support in building a coalition against Saddam Hussein. Saturday, Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The United States has so far met with little success in convincing foreign countries that action is needed in Iraq. And this has led some area residents to doubt the United States' judgment and to fear that the government will act unilaterally.
Using force would accomplish nothing in the war on terrorism and serve only to further destabilize the Middle East, said event organizer Allan Hanson.
Hanson called the U.S. attitude the "arrogance of power, squared." People used to question whether the United States should be the policeman of the world, but today that is not the issue, he said.
"We are going beyond being policemen of the world to also being the world's judge and the world's jury," he said.
The United States is simply flexing its muscle and not considering the long-term implications of using force, said marcher Judy Batson, Lawrence.
"I think it's very short-sighted that removing Saddam Hussein will stabilize anything," she said.
Marching alongside Batson was Lynn Anderson, who said the United States needed a "moral imagination."
Bush speaks of an obligation to prevent terrorism in Iraq, the Lawrence resident said. But economic strategies, mobilizing the public and boycotts also can be used to accomplish goals in Iraq, Anderson said.