July 24, 2003


Demonstrators honor the dead, call for inquiry

By Carolina Bolado

Tribune staff reporter

Displaying a large sign that read "Bush lies, they die," opponents of the war against Iraq rallied Wednesday in Federal Plaza in the Loop, mourning the casualties and calling for an independent commission to investigate the justifications for the war.

The rally featured a memorial that listed the names of U.S. military personnel and Iraqi civilians killed in the conflict. Organizers hope to move the memorial to churches, mosques and synagogues in Chicago during coming weeks.

"More and more evidence is coming out that the arguments for war rested on forged documents, questionable intelligence, and we feel that in matters of war, the American people deserve the truth," said Michael McConnell, regional director of the American Friends Service Committee, which funded the event.

The memorial listed the names, ages, hometowns and dates and circumstances of each American casualty, but most of the Iraqi civilians were listed without names. The project used information from Iraq Body Count, a group of researchers trying to establish a database of media-reported civilian deaths in Iraq.

Organizers also circulated a petition requesting a public and open inquiry into the justifications for the war. McConnell said the petition will be sent to the senators representing each person who signed. The American Friends Service Committee also sent delegations Wednesday to the Chicago offices of U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Peter Fitzgerald to ask them to call for an investigative commission in Congress.

Many of the protesters said they had heard about the rally through Internet Web sites or from friends and are no strangers to anti-war demonstrations. But according to Jeff Pickert, 14, of Lincoln Park, this one was different from others because it was a call to mourn the lives lost in Iraq.

"This one is a memorial and also a call for what Bush has done," Pickert said. "There's a real somber atmosphere, unlike a lot of the other ones."

Copyright (c) 2003, Chicago Tribune