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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Bellingham protests Iran escalation

Bellingham's No War With Iran protest bred community Thursday

By Teya Heidenreich

People across all ages protested against potential war with Iran Thursday, Jan. 9, on the Alabama Street Interstate 5 overpass. The protest was listed by MoveOn.org as part of the national No War With Iran: Day of Action. The Day of Action was intended to publicly denounce a potential war with Iran following a U.S. airstrike that led to the death of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani.

Protesters held signs over the Alabama Street overpass that spelled out “NO WAR” to motorists. Additional protesters arrived with homemade signs that read: “Sow seeds, not greed,” “War=corporate profit” and “50 million displaced by war.” One protester had salvaged a “No Iraq War” sign by taping an “N” over the “Q.”

The event was organized by Indivisible Bellingham, whose events encourage civic engagement and political involvement through marches and rallies. Douglas Brown, organizer of the protest and member of Indivisible Bellingham, said protesting isn’t only about change, it’s about building community.

“This protest came up fast, in two days,” Brown said. “It’s always something. Any war is important. If the Middle East goes up in flames, it affects us.”

Brown said he wasn’t an activist until after Trump’s election, when he participated in the 2017 Women’s March. He realized he could no longer sit on the sidelines.

Brown viewed the day’s protest as a success with the amount of people that attended.

Protester Mark Proulx is tired of war.

“I’m old enough to have been through too many of these stupid episodes,” Proulx said. “We need to clean up our own act before we go into others’ business. It’s time someone stood up and said, ‘That’s enough.’”

While some may believe protesting won’t accomplish anything, “I can guarantee it won’t do anything good if I don’t,” Proulx said. “I’m doing fine, but somebody’s gotta stand up for the people getting the short end of the stick.”

Protester Preston Carlisle wanted to exercise his First Amendment rights and spread awareness about potential war with Iran. Carlisle said it’s important for working-class people like himself to exercise their voice because they’re the ones burdened by policy changes.

Brown said it’s important for activists to have awareness.

“Say, ‘This is wrong,’” Brown said. “‘This isn’t how I feel about America.’”

Brown said he’s always trying to bring people together: the right and left, the old and young. Older people have the focus and young people have the energy, Brown said. Together, they complement each other.

“This is a wonderful time to be here,” Brown said. “[In the past], we ignored the bad part [of our country], but can no longer do that. We have to be intentional and aware.”

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