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Anti-War Protesters Rally During Rice's Princeton Visit


Published on Saturday, October 1, 2005 by The Times of Trenton (New Jersey)
By Kelly Meisberger

PRINCETON BOROUGH - More than 150 people came out yesterday to protest the Bush administration's Iraq policy, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Princeton University as a lightning rod for searing criticism.

A rally sponsored by the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) was held in Palmer Square. It was followed by a march to the university's Jadwin Gymnasium, where Rice was giving the keynote address in a celebration marking the 75th anniversary of the university's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Among the speakers at the protest were U.S. Reps. Rush Holt, D-Hopewell Township, and Frank Pallone Jr., D-Long Branch.

"This administration has the worst foreign policy, I believe, in American history," Pallone said. Pallone said the administration has a preemptive foreign policy and a "cowboy mentality" about the war in Iraq and asked protesters to think of the outcome if every country began to act preemptively.

"Our president is never going to be successful in my opinion . . . and we need to send a message to this administration that we want out," Pallone said.

Holt talked about the loss of income and financial difficulties the families of reservists and National Guard members must endure while their loved ones are serving in the military.

Sue Niederer, a Hopewell Township resident and co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, echoed those sentiments. Niederer's son, Army 1st Lt. Seth Dvorin, died in Iraq in 2004.

Niederer received roughly $12,500 in a military death benefit when her son was killed, most of which, she said, went toward funeral expenses. Now the benefit has been raised to $100,000, an action Niederer said was merely to pacify angry families.

"Mr. Bush - because he's not my president - you took our children," Niederer said. "You took the best things in our lives."

Zia Mian, a researcher with the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, said for him, the rally was not about Rice at all.

"She's doing what she's supposed to be doing - she's a secretary, she takes dictation," Mian said.

He said the mindset of officials must be changed - the behavior of those who follow Bush because they believe it is the "proper" thing to do.

"We need to encourage a little disobedience," Mian said.

"Colin Powell should have known better," he said, referring to Bush's first secretary of state. "Condoleezza Rice should know better. Even (defense secretary) Donald Rumsfeld should have known better. . . . They should have said, `This I will not do.' "

The Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the CFPA, led the rally with chants of "Support our troops. Bring them home." Irene Goldman, chairwoman of CFPA, and the Rev. George Hunsinger, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, also spoke.

Following the rally, protesters - bearing signs that read, "Make levees, not war," and "Secretary Rice lied about Iraq" - walked to the university campus.

"I hope (Rice) sees a lot of angry people," said Cheryl Edwards, a Pennington resident.

The march ended in a park near the gymnasium where Rice spoke. A vigil was held before and after Rice's talk.

"I hope (Rice) hears you in her limousine with her windows closed," Holt said to the crowd. "You have a lot to tell her."

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