Iraq vets take to the streets to protest the war
Posted by Harry Esteve, The Oregonian August 26, 2008 12:51PM
DENVER-- A few dozen Iraq War vets, dressed in full camo gear, staged one of the more eye-catching demonstrations of the day outside the Colorado Convention Center, enacting what they said are everyday street scenes in the Middle East.
The group, representing Iraq Veterans Against the War, staged a series of simulated car stops, detainments, reaction to sniper fire and secure movement through an urban area.
"We're trying to bring a taste of what an occupied city feels like," said Army Spc. Garret Reppenhagen, one of the participants.
Reppenhagen was a sniper with the 1st Infantry Division who served at Baquaba, Iraq from Feb. 2004 to Feb. 2005, as well as a 9 month peace keeping tour in Kosovo.
"We're here mainly to show some of the stuff we experienced in Iraq," he said. Escorted by Aurora, Colo., police, the group performed its street theater for about half an hour, handing out leaflets along the way.
It wasn't a protest against Democrats or the party's presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, organizers said. It was a plea to end the war.
-- Harry Esteve; email@example.com
DNC: Vets Blitz Mall Lunch Hour with Anti-war Message
By Chris Casey
Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War clash with actors portraying Iraqi rioters during their street performance
of Operation First Casualty, a re-enactment of a military patrol in Iraq, on Tuesday in Denver. All of the soldiers
served in Iraq and are now members of the anti-war group.
The usual business lunch crowd on the 16th Street mall dodged a group of U.S. Army veterans holding invisible guns and crouching against potential enemy fire.
Sometimes the 25-member group, outfitted in fatigues, would grab “Iraqi citizens” and push them up against building walls and hood their heads.
The group, Iraq Veterans Against the War, carried out the peaceful—though jarring, especially to Denverites trying to get to a lunch spot—demonstration during Tuesday’s noon hour in downtown Denver.
The roving simulation called "Operation First Casualty" covered several blocks on the western end of the mall and displayed how U.S. troops carry out dangerous duties in Iraqi war zones.
One exchange between the veterans went:
Sergeant: “We’re not shooting any innocents today!”
Enlisted troop: “They hate us here, Sarge!”
Another soldier yelled to a group of onlookers at Writer Square: “We’re bringing home to Denver what the occupation looks like.”
A group of about 25 police officers stood by and moved with the group as it performed skits on the city sidewalks. The police and "soldiers" never clashed.
Occasionally an RTD bus would stop along the mall and the soldiers would hop aboard, pivoting inside with an invisible rifle at their shoulder, and yell to the annoyance or amusement of riders that the bus was secure.
A man at the front of the simulations yelled to the crowd that the protesters were not actors but actual veterans of the war in Iraq.
He also yelled: “The first casualty of war is the truth. Bring the troops home now!”
Fliers passed out by the soldiers said the U.S. occupation is unwanted by most Iraqi people. It said, “In order to survive daily missions, soldiers are taught to use brutal, dehumanizing search and seizure tactics.”
Rosemary Rafferty, a downtown office worker, sat smoking a cigarette on a sidewalk bench while soldiers conducted a simulation — complete with frequent shouted expletives — around her.
“It’s a bit different” than the usual downtown lunch hour, she said through a chuckle. “It’s just crowded. If I could have taken vacation (during the Democratic National Convention) I would have.”
She declined to take fliers being handed out by the protesters. But she wasn’t bothered by the in-your-face simulation.
“Everybody’s got their opinions, everybody’s got their rights,” said Rafferty, a Democrat. “And peaceful is good.”
As the commotion moved off to the next block, Rafferty breathed a sigh of relief that she could start enjoying her lunch hour.
“But again they have a point,” she said. “I have to agree. I don’t believe in war.”
On Monday, IVAW members delivered a letter to Senator Obama calling on him to support IVAW's three main goals.
August 25, 2008
Senator Barack Obama
C/O Democratic National Convention Committee
Denver, CO 80202
In your campaign for the Presidency of the United States of America, you have clearly presented yourself as the anti-war candidate, dedicated to change in trying times. Senator Obama, millions of Americans are looking to you to restore our country’s good name and reputation around the world, beginning with righting the wrongs of the war-driven Bush administration.
Iraq Veterans Against the War is the only organization consisting of active duty service members and veterans of the Global War On Terror committed to ending the occupation of Iraq. We believe that a responsible withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq should include:
1. The immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq.
2. Full and adequate health care and benefits to all returning service members and veterans.
3. Reparations made to the Iraqi people for the destruction caused by the U.S. war and occupation.
Senator Obama, we realize that a man in your position has a very tedious schedule during the Democratic National Convention. However, we feel that a Presidential candidate dedicated to an anti-war platform should have no objections to the goals of our organization. Indeed, Senator Obama, in these ominous times, you symbolize the hope for a better America.
Therefore, we request at this time that you endorse the three tenets of Iraq Veterans Against the War if you so wish to represent the anti-war constituency of our country.
Further, in the spirit of grassroots democracy that you praise as the means of change in American society, we will be marching non-violently on Wednesday, August 27. Our march will hold accountable the Democratic Party for their initial and continued support for the illegal occupation of Iraq. We urge you to demonstrate your commitment to change by working with veterans and service members dedicated to ending the occupation of Iraq.
We will await your response to our proposal until 3:00 PM Wednesday, August 27.
Mobilized for Peace,
Iraq Veterans Against the War