MINNEAPOLIS -- Anti-war protesters launched their second day of action against the war in Iraq on Friday with a demonstration at a downtown plaza. Beating drums and carrying tombstone-shaped signs, some 200 people prepared a short march to a federal courthouse.
Some protesters wore whiteface or carried puppets, and some carried a giant coffin with the scribbled words "International law," "Truce," and "Afghanistan."
The morning action was the first of at least two planned peace demonstrations in the Twin Cities. Teachers planned a march in St. Paul later in the day.
On Thursday, the first day after the American-led war commenced, more than 1,000 people rallied in a series of events that started at the University of Minnesota and included a march through downtown to the Minneapolis courthouse.
The demonstration was loud but civil, and a few counter-demonstrators were on hand. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has asked protesters to keep things orderly so police aren't distracted from terrorism readiness.
No arrests were reported from Thursday's protests, made up largely of high school and college students who were encouraged to walk out. The demonstration might have been larger, but University of Minnesota students are on spring break.
"It's awesome," said Josh Jore, 26. "I'm just hoping that the mass solidarity of people will show our support for peace and wanting to get the troops home."
Another peace demonstrator, Samir Nasar, 23, said he hoped for a swift end to the war. Nasar, a Palestinian by birth who now works as a nurse's aide, said the war won't stop peace activists.
"It's OK to fail at something," Nasar said. "Maybe we didn't prevent the war, but it is better to have tried than the millions of people who haven't tried. Go out there and protest and make your voice heard."
The crowd chanted anti-war slogans, including "Bush is a terrorist!" while some pounded drums. Many carried signs. One read: "Let's bomb Texas. They have oil too." Police blocked off surrounding streets.
Asked if he thought such peace demonstrations could make a difference, Jore replied: "Yes, we do still live in a democracy, don't we?"
Early in the day, Minneapolis peace protesters encountered three counter protesters. One waved an American flag, another had a flag that said, "Don't tread on me." A third had sign asking: "Traitor, how many more?"
"If they have a problem with our country, they might as well go over to Iraq and live with them other people," said Matt Cooutier, 21, a St. Paul Technical College student.
"I don't agree with the idea of war," Cooutier said. "I think it's stupid. I don't think we should be over there telling people how to live their lives, but we should annihilate Saddam. We should get him out of there."
As the mass snaked its way through the downtown streets, Herbert Ward, wearing his Vietnam veteran cap, scowled but said he supported the marchers' right to voice their opinion.
"I fought for this," Ward said. "I fought for freedom, freedom of speech. As long as they don't go against the soldiers who are protecting this country, that's all I care."
Elsewhere in Minnesota, people voiced similar sentiments, though in smaller numbers.
In Winona, war veterans staged a vigil to support American troops. The vigil was for "true patriots to show support for our troops, their families, and the country," said Gerry Krage, a Gulf War veteran.
In St. Cloud, more than 170 people gathered at City Hall to protest the war. A block away a dozen people held signs that read: "Liberate Iraq, Support Our Troops."
In Marshall, about 25 college students, professors and religious leaders marched at Southwest State University to protest the war. A sign led the procession, it read: "We question our administration, not our troops." Another sign read: "Drop tuition, not bombs."
In Virginia, Velura Peterson was among 25 people who gathered at the town post office. She said her husband was haunted by his memories of serving in Vietnam and the cruel welcome home he got from the public.
"Vietnam vets were so ashamed and so connected to politics of the time," she told the Mesabi Daily News. "It's a different world, now. We realize we have to support the military even if we don't agree with policy."
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