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Borough peace activists rally to end Iraq conflict

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Queens residents opposed to the war in Iraq said they are planning future demonstrations and peaceful actions in the borough to garner support among opposition groups who want to resolve the military conflict in the Persian Gulf.

Raissa Wu, a Sunnyside resident and member of the West Queens Green Party, said her organization is partnering with other groups to hold candlelight vigils and pass out fliers on subways to raise awareness of the peace movement against the Iraq war.

“I strongly believe that it is just not right to kill anybody for the benefit of my own safety,” she said. “We have so many problems in this country, why don’t we put money forth to solve those problems?”

Wu, along with other community members, belongs to an umbrella organization called Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith peace group founded before World War I that uses non-violent protests to oppose war.

Kate Brennan, a member of FOR who lives in Sunnyside, said residents throughout Queens have responded loudly to protests calling for an end to fighting in Iraq.

“We are going to be out there and we are going to be protesting,” she said. “We refuse to give up.”

A candlelight vigil with residents from throughout the borough was held in Sunnyside Tuesday night to protest the American invasion of Iraq.

Brennan, who works for a management consulting firm, and Wu, a pediatric nurse practitioner, said their organizations are against the killings of any civilians or soldiers whether Iraqi or American.

Brennan said that during the past two weeks she and other anti-war protesters have passed out fliers and pamphlets against the war on subways and have received a positive response from the riders.

Wu, whose parents fought actively against the Vietnam War and were civil rights activists, said she fears the United States will be the target of future terrorist attacks for its initiation of the Iraqi conflict. She was arrested March 17 for disorderly conduct during a rally for peace outside of the United Nations building in Manhattan.

“It is just a big mess,” said Wu, who works in Philadelphia and New York with underserved youth. “How would we feel (the bombing) was happening here?”

Brennan said she ignores pro-war demonstrators who claim that anti-war protesters are not supporting American troops. She contended the U.S. government has been treating soldiers poorly with low salaries and limited veteran’s benefits.

Both Wu and Brennan said they are concerned that the United States decided not to seek formal international support from the United Nations before beginning its military campaign.

“It’s scary because we’re causing people to hate us who don’t want to hate us,” said Brennan, whose uncle fought in World War II and now tours the country advocating peaceful solutions to conflict. “If you are going to hold countries accountable for the actions of their leaders, then God help America.”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 156

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