A day for dissent

While numerous U students and staff members were among the thousands of protesters and supporters that converged on downtown Salt Lake City yesterday, one student had the rare opportunity to make her voice heard over the sea of demonstrators.

Senior Erica Torres took the stage just before Mayor Rocky Anderson at the “We the People for Peace and Justice” rally held at Washington Square. She was among a handful of individuals selected to speak at the event.

Torres spoke in front of a crowd that organizers estimated numbered more than 5,000; Salt Lake City Police estimated the crowd size was closer to 1,500.

“And they say this is the No. 1 city that still supports this administration,” she said. “We have had enough of the lies, attacks.”

Although she objects to the war in Iraq, Torres focused primarily on immigration, calling President George Bush’s proposed guest worker program an abusive system because it allows the undocumented workers to be paid substandard wages and be forced to work in inhumane conditions, she said.

“As the daughter of immigrant parents, it makes me sick to hear how immigration is being molded by conservative pundits,” she said. “A program that strips people of any human rights is not a compromise.”

The majority of protesters focused on the war in Iraq as their point of contempt. Many U students skipped class to attend the early afternoon rally.

“I talked to my professor; he was sorry he had to miss the protest, so I didn’t feel too bad (missing class),” said Davis Luecke, a sophomore biology major.

Many conservative students also attended a protest held at Washington Square yesterday evening. At the “pro-Bush” rally, several hundred Bush supporters voiced their admiration of the president, their dislike of Mayor Rocky Anderson and their opinions about the war and the troops.

“I’m happy about the troops being over there,” said Kristin Barkdull, a U graduate. “I think we should be helping others, because they can’t do it themselves.”

Barkdull, like many others at the rally, said she is not impressed with Anderson.

“I do not like Rocky Anderson at all, he’s one of the most negative (people) in the state.”

Students weren’t the only U community members to participate in protests and rallies through out the day. Several U faculty and staff members played a prominent role the day’s anti-war demonstrations.

Deborah Daniels, director of the U Women’s Resource Center, also spoke before the crowd at the Washington Square anti-Bush rally. She spoke about patriotic dissent and the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

“I am here because I support our troops. I am here because I am patriotic,” she said. “Let us not forget our sisters and brothers who are lost and (were) abandoned by this administration a year ago today when hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans.”

Dayne Goodwin, a custodian at the U, worked as one of the main organizers of the protest at which Daniels and Torres spoke.

“I think it was a great day for those who want to voice their dissent,” Goodwin said.

Kim Peterson

U freshman Henry Grover and sophomore Michael Baker wave the flag of peace (“PACE”) at the anti-war rally at Washington Square on Wednesday.

Mayor Rocky Anderson delivers a speech at an anti-war protest Wednesday despite criticism he has received for attending the event.