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Peaceful protest: The Calgary Coalition for Peace and Anti-Racism takes to the streets to fight violence.
The Gauntlet

There was peace in the streets

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It was clear and sunny in downtown Calgary last weekend, and over the roar of car engines and regular weekend chatter, voices rang out in a protest for peace.

On Sat., Nov. 17, people from all walks of life gathered together at the War Memorial Park to make themselves heard at a peace rally held by the Calgary Coalition for Peace and Anti-Racism.

"We are bringing awareness to the people of Calgary that they have a right to advocate their perspectives, whatever they are, without being discriminated against," explained volunteer Sylvia Hawkins. "There are people out there who believe that the present violence waged against Afghanistan is not right. However, this does not make them supporters of terrorism."

The rally started at noon with people picketing on the sidewalks displaying anti-war and anti-violence banners.

"Our first and most important item is to call upon the Canadian government to get troops out of Afghanistan and to stop aiding in the American bombing campaign," declared one protester to supporters and onlookers.

The group also heard from representatives from organizations such as Women for Women in Afghanistan, Physicians For Global Survival and the Calgary District Labour Council. This was followed by a performance by musician Demi Seneviratne who sang Ben Harper's "Roses from my Friends" and John Lennon's "Imagine."

Although the rally's topic was serious, incidents such as one demonstrator running around the park wearing only his briefs kept the tone jovial.

"Peace is something that brings people together. There are all kinds of people who come here to support the cause," said protester Franco Manno. "No matter who you are or what you do, you can come out here and voice your opinions."

The CCPAR is an ad hoc group formed shortly after September 11 to oppose the violent and racist backlash of the attacks. The group is supported by several organizations including Amnesty International and the Sierra Coalition of Calgary.

CCPAR holds demonstrations every Saturday at noon in Memorial Park. Next Sat., Nov. 24, the theme of the rally is Bongos, and supporters are encouraged to bring any musical instruments if they so desire.

"It is important to have a voice," said Manno. "Some people might think that what we do does not have an impact on anything, but if you speak out you will be heard. Small things lead to big things."

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