On Feb. 15, 2003, people worldwide spoke out against U.S. foreign policy through worldwide anti-war demonstrations.
The Philadelphia Regional Anti-War Network (PRAWN) took lead locally as about 10,000 people gathered in Philadelphia to protest President Bush’s decision to continue to push for war in Iraq.
The rally began outside the State Office Building on Broad and Spring Garden streets, continuing towards City Hall and then following Market Street to the Liberty Bell.
Veterans, students, unionists and everyday Philadelphians joined together to speak out against Bush’s decision to enter war.
After protests were held nationwide, Bush released a statement suggesting that the voices were left unheard.
He was going to continue full-throttle with his war efforts against Iraq.
“As much as I don’t like Bush, he has millions of people to worry about. Some people protest, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to protect our country,” Temple University senior Bob George said.
Police estimations of 10,000 protestors made the 2003 demonstration the largest the city has ever seen.
PRAWN initiated a November 2002 demonstration against Bush’s Dec. 8 deadline, drawing only 3,000 voices.
Temple junior Rusty Werely said he feels that Bush dismissed the protests too quickly.
“Obviously he has set in his mind what he wants to do,” said Werely. “He is blowing off how the American people feel.”
For years students have felt as though their words go unheard.
However, this did not stop students from Temple, Drexel, Villanova, and University of Pennsylvania from stepping out to express their First Amendment rights.
“The President should listen to the majority of people. He was elected to represent the people. This makes him seem inconsiderate,” Werely said.
Alyson Azzara is a junior biology major who adamantly opposes war.
“Even if I walked up to Bush and told him that he is ridiculously silly for wanting to start World War III, he wouldn’t care,” Azzara said.
“He needs to learn how to speak softly and carry a big stick, not wave it around and declare that his is the biggest strongest one and that he can beat anyone.”
Azzara said she felt that regardless of what citizens say and do, they are playing a waiting game as the nation watches Bush make decisions that could impact the rest of their lives.
Temple sophomore film and media arts major Adam Hargreaves expanded on that thought.
“I really don’t think protesting is effective unless it creates a big disturbance…i.e. that [World Trade Organization] thing in Seattle a few years ago,” he said.
“I think the only way protesting will work is if a lot of the protestors get hurt by the police and it looks like the police started it. Then the American public will suddenly care and look at the government like it is the enemy,”
“Then the government will stop what they’re doing.”
Pooja Shah can be reached at Pshah004@temple.edu.