Volume 96, Issue 78
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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Two Londons linked by the cause of peace

By Chris Webden
Gazette Staff

If you love snow but hate war, London was the place to be on Saturday, as citizens braved the winter cold to march together in an anti-war protest.

With a war in Iraq looming on the horizon, a crowd of around 750 people gathered in Victoria Park to participate in a worldwide day of action that saw peaceful protesters unite in towns and cities all over the globe.

Commenting on the protests around the world, Tim Blackmore, a professor of media, information, and technoculture at Western and speaker at London's demonstration, said the mobilization of people on Saturday rivalled any he had seen during the Vietnam War.

"I have never seen anything remotely like [the demonstration in London, England]," he said, noting that the 750,000 participants reflect a growing movement occurring around the world.

Dave Evans, a third-year English student, said he was surprised to see so many locals attend Saturday's protest. "My perception of London [Ontario], at least on campus, is that it is a very unpolitical town. People don't seem to care about anything, but apparently they do."

John VanDommelen, a teacher for the London School Board and participant in Saturday's protest, explained that the costs of war are too great for people not to be concerned about the impending war.

"One country like the [United States] doesn't necessarily speak for the whole world [when it comes to war]; it is a global community," VanDommelen said, adding that average citizens need to make sure the U.S. knows it does not speak for them.

Though the turnout did not near the volume of the London, England, protest, Jack Blocker, an American history professor at Huron University College, was impressed with both the number and diversity of the local crowd, which ranged from toddlers to seniors.

Blackmore, however, noted that the overall atmosphere of the protest was very "Canadian" in nature. According to Blackmore, the politeness with which demonstrators lined up three abreast and walked along the sidewalks, hurt the overall effectiveness of the event.

"If we had blocked traffic we could have really driven the message home," Blackmore said, adding he would be interested in seeing how the City of London would react to a request for a permit to block traffic.

"[The protest] needs to be much more demonstrative and in your face," Blackmore commented.

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