Volume 17 • Issue 9 / July 23 - 29, 2004

Vets protest war at the W.T.C.

BY Erica Stein

Downtown Express photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio
A few veterans came to the World Trade Center site last Tuesday to protest the war in Iraq.
Flashing peace symbols and yelling “Congress has spoken, the people have spoken: No more Vietnams,” eight members of Veterans for Peace came to the World Trade Center Site for about 20 minutes Tuesday to protest the war in Iraq. None of them made any mention of Sept. 11 during the protest.

A few of the veterans were from Chapter 34, the New York branch of the group, but most, like Don Ruell, were on the last leg of a three-week bus trip. Veterans for Peace is sponsoring a cross-country bus trip to advocate the end of the war. The bus, occupied by 13 members from a handful of the organization’s 100 chapters, left from Garberville, Calif. on July 9. Ruell, a Vietnam veteran, said that they plan on concluding the trip at the Veterans for Peace national convention in Boston, which will be held three days before the Democratic convention.

“We’ve stopped in a lot of places, but people never know we’re coming,” said Ruell. “We haven’t had 100 percent support, but wherever we go, we always have some. We tend to get a lot of honks on the road.”

Bill Steyert, 61, is one of the local members who helped find housing for the California members in Brooklyn. “Our members are mostly Vietnam vets,” said Steyert, in a tie-dye t-shirt emblazoned with a dove holding an olive branch. “We’re pissed because it’s all the same crap. There a lot of sick vets coming home and they’re being ignored. Bringing them home is patriotic.”

The protest, which was held next to the R,W subway stop, attracted attention from tourists, Financial District workers and several police officers. The protestors seemed to notice the police presence: the familiar shouts of “bring the troops home” were interspersed with mentions of the casualties suffered by N.Y.P.D. and F.D.N.Y. reservists.
Even though Peter Bronson helped organize Tuesday’s protest, he did not get out of his car to attend it. In a phone conversation, Bronson said “I didn’t like the yelling. I thought it was disrespectful.”

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