Chants of “No more war” rang out across the Oviatt library lawn on the morning of March 20 as more than a 100 students, professors and community members met on the steps of the library to protest the war in Iraq.
Brightly colored poster boards with anti-war slogans were laid out on the steps leading up to the library. Messages like “Deport ROTC” and “No justice, no peace,” gave passing students a reminder of the protesters views of the ongoing war in Iraq.
Speeches and verbal blessings to the marchers and to the end the war in Iraq marked the beginning of the Northridge segment of the March for Peace, which started on the CSUN campus and ended at Cesar Chavez Park in of San Fernando.
The days’ march was part of the ‘March for Peace,’ a 241 mile walk meant to recreate the Mahatma Gandhi’s walk to the sea in protest of the British occupation of India. The march is walking from Tijuana to San Francisco and was organized by Fernando Suarez de Solar whose son, Jesus, was a Marine who died in Iraq.
Before the march began, a rally was held on the steps of the Oviatt library where speakers voiced their opposition to the war in Iraq.
Rosa Furumoto, assistant professor of Chicano/a Studies, organized the San Fernando segment of the march.
“What I set out to do was get as many sectors of the community to come together (for the march) as I could,” Furumoto said.
A blessing given by Father Don Bernard, of the Santa Rosa Catholic Church, started the march to the park.
Carlos Moran 23, chair of CSUN Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan, spoke at the rally and helped lead chants during the march.
“The purpose of this march is to voice our opposition to the war,” Moran said.
Moran said he wanted people driving by the march to hear and see student’s feelings on the war in Iraq.
“We want to let them (the public) know that students are against the war,” Moran said.
Moran said the march participants were not just students against the war, but churches and community organizations who also worked for peace in Iraq and all over the world.
“This march brings a lot of people together,” Moran said.
Abraham Ramirez, 18, a Valley College sophomore, is with the Harmony Keepers, a group that works to protect ceremonies and provided crowd control for the march.
“We are trying to raise the consciousness of the community (about the war),” Ramirez said. “So they’re aware of what’s going in the community against the political agenda of the government (concerning Iraq).”
Cars honked in support of the marchers as they walked along Lassen Sreet and past James Monroe High School.
Marchers sang the chorus to John Lennon’s song “Give peace a chance” as cars honked and flashed the peace sign.
Ana Tara, 26, a UCLA graduate, came out to the march to support students protesting the war.
“I think it’s important that student’s voices are heard,” Tara said.
Tara said students are portrayed as apathetic and not caring about the war so the march shows that students care.
“I believe it’s people’s individual responsibility to get active,” Tara said.
Furumoto said San Fernando High School students joined the march for the last leg of the walk to Cesar Chavez Park.
“It was so amazing. It was powerful,” Furumoto said.
Furumoto said the number of marchers doubled to about 200 people after teenagers from the high school joined up. The number of marchers dropped down to 100 at the mid-way point when some student and teachers had to return to CSUN.
At Cesar Chavez Park, the march ended at 6 p.m. with food, speakers and music from Jose Luis Orozco, Furumoto said.
“I hope a lot of students get involved with the struggle for peace,” Furumoto said. “Youths are being affected by it (Iraqi war) more than anyone.”
Joseph Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.