Friday, April 21, 2006

300 Attend Anti-War Town Hall Meeting

More than 300 people crowded into the Hannaford Lecture Hall on the USM campus on Friday night, April 21st, for what was billed as a Town Hall meeting, to express opposition to the Iraq war and to criticize public officials who were accused of supporting the war effort. About 50 speakers spoke over a three-hour period, calling for an end to the war, impeachment of President Bush, and defeat at the polls in the November election of a number of Maine elected officials.

A dais was set up at the front of the auditorium with places and name tags set up for Governor John Baldacci, Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud, and Senators Olympia Snow and Susan Collins, none of whom attended the gathering. Some speakers criticized the elected officials for not attending the event. Baldacci was faulted for allowing Maine National Guard troops to be deployed. Allen was criticized for voting for funding the war, and Michaud praised for voting against funding. Snow and Collins were criticized for their overall support of Bush Administration policies.

A number of candidates who will be running against the incumbents did attend the meeting and spoke against the war and the elected officials. Pat LaMarche, who is the Green Party candidate for Governor, urged the other candidates to go up to the dais and fill the empty seats, but no one took that action. The only elected official at the event was State Senator Michael Brennan, who was in the audience but did not speak.

Some of the topics covered in the numerous speeches included the effect of the war on the domestic economy, the potential for the use of nuclear weapons in Iran, the role of the media, domestic surveillance, and the use of the National Guard in Iraq. Those in attendance were largely people in their 40’s and 50’s and older, with only a handful of college-age students attending. No one at the meeting spoke in favor of the war or the Bush administration’s policies.


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