Several Causes On Peace Rally Menu

The Record ( — Sunday, August 26, 2007


NEWARK — Lucas Sanchez of Englewood said immigrant rights and the Iraq war were among his reasons for braving Saturday's daunting heat at a peace rally in the city's Lincoln Park.

Sanchez was joined by dozens of Bergen County residents and hundreds more protesters from throughout the state and region to promote a variety of causes ranging from affordable health care to opposing the war to violence in Newark.

"There is a segment of the population that isn't happy with this country's policies," Sanchez said.

The issues – loudly chanted or expressed on T-shirts, banners and hand-lettered signs – were as varied as Sanchez's list.

Englewood resident Stacy Smith said that she was concerned that money sent overseas to fund the war on terror exhausted resources badly needed at home.

"You can't go to someone else's neighborhood and tell them to clean up their back yard when yours is dirty," Smith said.

Timed to fall three days before the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famed March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, the rally and march were organized by the Peace and Justice Coalition to draw attention to the causes of its more than 100 member groups.

Jeffrey Dye, director of a job-training organization in Passaic, was one of several speakers. Like many who addressed the crowd, Dye condemned the Iraq war, but also asked for peace in the United States.

"We will call for unity in our communities and peace in our streets," he said.

Violence at home underscored much of Saturday's protest.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., spoke at length about universal health care, but he also took a moment to remember the three college-age students shot dead in a Newark schoolyard earlier this month.

A fourth survived a gunshot wound to the head. Six suspects have been charged in connection with their deaths.

Rutherford residents Henry and Mary Shoiket said they frequently attend anti-war vigils at the Teaneck Armory and attended the People's March for Peace, Equality, Jobs and Justice as part of their stance against the troops' presence in Iraq.

But Mary Shoiket had another motivation.

Grasping a small sign with "Jobs, not Guns" written across it, she said using funds to employ young men like those accused in the murders could prevent violence.

"They were kids from 14 on up, with no summer jobs and nothing to do but fall prey to anything," Shoiket said. "This is very, very sad."

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