Anti-War Protesters Gather at State Capitol

More than 100 peace activists—by and large conventional-looking, older folks—assembled today on the south steps of the State Capitol Building to hear clergymen and civic leaders wax-critical on the Iraqn War.

Starting at noon, a dozen speakers took the podium one-by-one, including Pam Costain (director of the Minneapolis School Board), Roxanne Abbas (co-chair of Women Against Military Madness), and Isaiah Ellison (son of Rep. Keith Ellison), who read an address penned by his father.

Nearly every speaker focused on the Bush administration’s saber rattling with regards to Iran. More specifically, they lambasted Senate Resolution 580, which calls for sanctions and a naval blockade against Iran— acts that would almost certainly be construed as a declaration of war.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a highly influential pro-Israel lobby, has pushed hard for the pending bill, sending thousands of its members to Capitol Hill last month to sway lawmakers. And to much success. Thirty-two senators, including Minnesota senators Norm Coleman (R) and Amy Klobuchar (DFL) , have co-sponsored the bill.

“We need to realize that AIPAC does not reflect the peace sentiment of the Israeli people, nor does it reflect the peace sentiment of the Jewish community,” Veterans for Peace member Andy Berman, himself Jewish, told the crowd.

Perhaps the biggest name on the bill was Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, who lost his bid for the DFL senate endorsement to Al Franken last month. The academic-turned-politician blasted America’s post-9/11 foreign policy in no uncertain terms.

“[The Bush administration] is moving forward because the Military-Industrial Complex benefits from war and because oil companies benefit from high prices,” he said to scattered applause. “There’s an effort to lead us to another unjust and unnecessary war and the people of Minnesota must say, ‘No!’ ”

Activists disappointed at Klobuchar’s support of Resolution 580 plan to stage a rally outside her Minneapolis office (1200 S Washington Ave.) Friday, Aug. 1 around noonish.

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