Group plans inauguration protest trip

On Thursday, they will be protesting at Fourth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., joining thousands of other counter demonstrators during President George Bush’s inauguration.

“This president and his administration are strong-arming their will on this country and the countries of the world. I believe it was Bush’s decision alone to go into Iraq,” said Patty Marquardt, who will be taking three days of vacation time from her job at a physician clinic to ride a bus to the nation’s capitol Wednesday, march on Thursday, and return to Manitowoc on Friday. The bus trip will cost $150.

“The Iraq war was based on lies and people are dying because of it. We were told there were WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Destruction) and that Saddam Hussein was linked to terrorist groups. That didn’t turn out to be true,” said Alyssa Holschbach, a Lincoln High School senior who said she would make up final exams upon her return.

“We’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest and I don’t think our presence there is helpful,” said Bob Kaeiser. “I think the Iraqis would welcome the opportunity to solve their problems by themselves.”

Many protesters believe the national elections set for Jan. 30 in Iraq will not be viewed as legitimate. Several Iraqi political groups say they will not participate, citing security concerns and potential violence at the polls.

‘No good answer’

“The situation is a catastrophe, much worse than what we started with. There is no good answer for the mess we have created,” said Ron Kossik.

He said the majority of Iraqis want a peaceful government but “the United States went in there saying killing is the answer.”

The U.S. Defense Department has not attempted to determine the number of Iraqi civilians killed during the fighting.

“The United States sees itself as this benevolent country,” Kossik said, “but at the same time we are telling the world Iraqi lives aren’t worth counting.”

Holschbach said she and other Americans have the right to “say we are against this war and state why. I want people to become aware of an average American who is against the war, rather than the big names who get in the media.”

Seven members of the Lakeshore Peacemakers are expected to be among about 300 protesters from Wisconsin and thousands from across the nation...........

Gannett News Service contributed to this report.

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