EUREKA -- Molly Ivins would have been proud. About 50 anti-war protesters and admirers of the feisty late newspaper columnist gathered in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse on Monday to beat out their opposition to the Iraq War.
On Jan. 11, in one of her last columns, Ivins called upon her readers and all Americans to take action to stop the war. ”We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!”
D. Joy Porsley took Ivins' message to heart, urging North Coast residents to come to the courthouse at noon on Presidents Day with their kettles to make a noise against the ongoing Iraq war and pay tribute to the late columnist. Ivins succumbed to breast cancer Jan. 31 in Austin, Texas. The clanging, which could heard more than a block away, drew repeated honks of support -- and at least one expletive -- from motorists on Fifth Street. Those not beating the tarnation out of the bottom of a spaghetti pot were waving signs that ranged from Ivins' call to “Stop it, now” to “Leave Iraq” to “Bring Them Home.” Several other bedsheet-sized banners noted “I do not Consent" “Open Your Eyes -- Break Your Chains,” “America Wake Up” and more.
The crowd stretched along Fifth Street provided a civics lesson for at least a few younger protesters, including 5 1/2-year-old Jack Angles of Arcata, who was attending his second protest -- his first was as a wee babe in a backpack. Accompanied by his mother, Julie Angles, the young man was more than willing to play two pot lids like cymbals at Monday's gathering. The elder Angles, who described herself as a “big fan of Molly Ivins,” said she and her son were there to honor the columnist's wish.
Davey Jain, 7, of Arcata, had a specific intent in mind: “to stop the war.” It was echoed by his friend Anson Baker-Berry, 8, also of Arcata. Davey's younger sister, Elyse Jain, 5, couldn't quite verbalize her motivation other than to bury her face against the home-penned sign on green posterboard that urged everyone to “Remember Molley (sic),” and “Don't fight, Just Play.”
While all were serious in their anti-war sentiments, the ability to make noise -- and lots out it -- brought out the playfulness in some, who expanded their wooden-spoon banging to garbage cans, ash trays and each others' pots all the while bopping a bit.
Porsley, who organized Monday's gathering, said she very pleased with the turnout and support for Ivins' message. ”One of the reasons I wanted to do this,” she said, “was Molly Ivins was a straight shooter. She made me want to become a political activist. She knew her voice was going to be silenced, but I don't think her message should be. The best way to support our troops is to bring them home.”
Hovering close to share their sentiments, others praised Ivins' work and call to action. ”(She had a way) of saying the truth with incredible humor so everybody could swallow it,” Arcata resident Maureen Kane said. “Even the people who didn't want to hear it.”
Monday's anti-war effort began in front of U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson's Third Street office, where a small but growing contingent of protesters have been gathering each Monday morning for the past seven weeks, sometimes in the rain. Redwood Peace & Justice Center board member Dave Meserve said one of the objectives has been to urge the congressman to support U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey's H.R. 508, which would remove all U.S. troops and contractors from Iraq within six months while providing Iraqis with assistance for reconstruction and stabilization. The 10-member Redwood Peace and Justice Center board of directors voted this weekend to support H.R. 508, Meserve said. ”We recognize that Mike Thompson has been opposed to the war throughout,” Meserve said, but the hope is the congressman will take a stronger stand. Jessie Faulkner can be reached at 441-0517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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