Protesters send message

each Saturday on Tices Ln.

By vincent todaro

Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK — Calm in mood and demeanor, a small group of local war protesters has become a familiar sight to drivers along one busy stretch of road in the northern section of the township.

In what has become a weekly routine, nearly two dozen area residents gathered Saturday afternoon outside the Unitarian Society of New Brunswick on Tices Lane to show their opposition to a U.S. war against Iraq. Saying they were well aware of the nature of war, group members noted that their peacefulness was meant to stand in contrast to the aggression they hope to stop.

The protesters have assembled at the Tices Lane site every week since Jan. 18, carrying signs and holding banners with messages such as "Bush is a Bully," "No War vs. Iraq" and "Never Strike First."

Judi Ryan, a Spotswood resident, said she and the other protesters are trying to get their message across to local residents.

"People need to see their own neighbors voicing an opinion," said Sandra Kynes, a protester from East Brunswick.

She said the were trying to "raise con­sciousness," and let the community know that not everyone agrees with the Bush administration’s plan.

Brian Ryan, also of Spotswood, said he feels public outcry across the world has al­ready had a positive effect by causing countries to scale back their plans.

Kynes said they also hope to show people outside the United States that Amer­icans are opposed to their government’s ac­tions.

The protesters spent a half hour outside the church holding signs and listening as people passing by honked in support, or in some cases, shouted obscenities and ridicule.

One car slowed down and its driver leaned over and said, "Yeah, wait ’til they come over here."

Others cursed or hurled insults at the protesters. One protester was jotting down the license plates of people who were hos­tile, saying the same people sometimes come back. She said the protesters have had bottles thrown at them.

Many of those who did acknowledge the group honked in support, however.

Kynes said there needs to be pressure brought on Iraq to get rid of chemical weapons. However, that pressure should come from a broad spectrum of countries, not the United States and a couple allies acting like "cowboys."

She and Ryan said they believe the real motive for the Bush administration is Iraqi oil. Kynes said she also feels the war is meant to deflect attention away from problems at home, including the economy and health care.

"The priorities are so wrong," she said.

Kynes and Brian Ryan also said that even if the United States is able to over­throw Saddam Hussein, it will not make an effort to replace his government with a de­cent one. The plight of the Iraqis will not improve, they said.

Ryan said past U.S. interventions prove that.

"They talk like we’re going to rebuild the whole country and this and that, and you turn around and that never happens," he said.

"They’re not looking for our style of government," he said of the Iraqi people. "And it’s not up to us to be their president or dictator or whatever."

Both Ryan and Kynes said there is also a great deal of hypocrisy involved in the Bush administration’s efforts. There are other nations, they said, such as Israel, In­dia and Pakistan, that have weapons of mass destruction, yet the administration does not seem as concerned with them.

Kynes pointed out that in the 1980s the Republican administration stood by idly while Hussein committed atrocities against the Shiites and Kurds. She asked why the United States was not concerned about Iraqi citizens then.

Judi Ryan said Bush helped redeem his image after Sept. 11, but is now tarnishing it again.

The Rev. R. Paul Mueller, who has been organizing the weekly gathering, said he was inspired by similar protests in Maine.

"This [war] doesn’t make a lot of sense to me," he said.