Peace supporters gather in Oklahoma City to protest war in Iraq

Monday, January 31st 2005, 6:14 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Traditional peace anthems cut through the cold sleet Sunday afternoon as about 200 people gathered in downtown Oklahoma City for a peace march protesting the war in Iraq.

Protesters gathered at the Episcopal Center held signs that read ``Arms are for Hugging'' and ``Yankee Come Home'' as organizers spoke to the crowd.

``Our primary concern today is the war in Iraq because that's a U.S. policy,'' said Nathaniel Batchelder, director of the Peace House and an event organizer. ``We just have deep concerns about it, and it seems like somebody ought to say that.''

The march also signified the launch of the ``season for nonviolence,'' a 64-day period that stretches from Jan. 30 to April 4, memorials of the deaths of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Batchelder said.

``One of the things that Gandhi said was to establish within your own heart that which you want to see in the world, so peace really does begin in one's heart,'' said Bishop Shannon Mallory with the Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City.

Mike and Ann Fell drove about three hours from Winfield, Kan., with their 15-year-old daughter, Elynne, and about a dozen members of their church to attend the march.

``We're not real happy that we're going to war for economic reasons and people are dying,'' said Mike Fell. ``Peace is a better solution.''

Susanne Jones, 20, a student at Oklahoma State University, said she was prompted to attend after hearing Coretta Scott King in Stillwater last week. The widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged OSU students to seek more diversity and tackle some of the difficult problems facing the world today.

``I just realized there are a lot of things I believe in that I don't necessarily show,'' Jones said. ``This is a way I can show I don't believe war is the answer.''

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