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Volume 68, Issue 92, February 10, 2003


Standing for peace

By Heather Nicholson
The Daily Cougar

The illumination of Mecom Fountainis 20-foot water spray is the serene backdrop for a group of Houstonians who meet there every Friday night with candles lit and anti-war posters in hand to demonstrate their opposition to a war in Iraq.

The Houston Coalition for Justice Not War organized the peaceful, weekly gathering in protest of the United Statesi pending war in Iraq. "We see a very good turnout," HCJNW affiliate David Courtney said. "Iim sorry we have to be here, but we do have to be here."

Courtney sits on the lawn surrounding the fountain, which is located at the intersection of Montrose Boulevard and Main Street, and passes out candles and signs adorned with peace symbols and anti-war slogans. The sweater-clad Courtney accepts hot chocolate from a group of Rice University students and wonit leave until 8 p.m. "When it gets cold, we get cold; when it rains, we get wet; if it gets hot, then we will get hot," said Courtney.

Amongst the gatherers is 1979 UH alumnus Bill Duke, carrying a homemade sign that reads "Donit be the first on the block to have your son come home in a box." The software engineer heard about the protest on the radio. "I thought I could at least do this much to help our country in not supporting an unjust war," said Duke.

Duke has only seen "one or two negative comments from people, but most are very positive and upbeat. You hear honking all the time."

More people arrive once the sun has set, and the flickering candlelight of a few becomes a procession of fire of the masses. People come alone or with friends, family members and loved ones.

Young mothers extend one hand in a peace sign while the other arm secures a toddler on the hip. A handful of children wrapped in winter coats run around the grassy lawn.

Laura Hybird comes alone and joins the protesters for the first time. "I heard that people were gathering to do this and I wanted to lend my support," said Hybird, a 1998 UH graduate.

She stands at the busy intersection for three hours, not minding the cold weather even though she "may catch her death from a cough."

A cloth screen on wooden slits sits at the forefront, displaying video images and war messages. Hybird, a 27-year-old teacher, said that most people donit react to the protest, but when they do, it is positive. "Weire all united by a cause, a commonality," she said.

The HCJNW organizes various nonviolent public actions in the greater Houston area. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. every first and third Monday of the month at the Houston Peace and Justice Center, 1627 W. Alabama St.

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