Debate on streets continues 6-year-old changes routine and joins father in protesting war at armory. PERSIAN GULF SHOWDOWN

February 25, 1991|By Melody Simmons and Alisa Samuels | Melody Simmons and Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff

On most Sunday afternoons, 6-year-old Nicole Durand would be playing with her younger sister.

But yesterday afternoon found Nicole standing on the sidewalk on North Howard Street in front of the 5th Regiment Armory holding a version of the U.S. flag that substituted a peace sign for the 50 stars.

"I want peace," said the first-grader. "I don't want the war."

Nicole and her father, Cliff Durand, 52, a philosophy professor at Morgan State University, were among about 60 war protesters who had gathered outside the armory to voice their opposition to the gulf war.

Meanwhile, across town at Fort McHenry, people on a Sunday outing expressed their support for the war.

"This is pulling the country together and making it stronger," said Betty Martell, of Riviera Beach. "When you're down, everybody gets together. It takes a war to do that."

"I didn't support the war in Vietnam, but we support the troops and this war," said Millicent Kaufman, a tourist from Scarsdale, N.Y. "Everyone in my neighborhood has flags and ribbons out and it makes you proud to be an American. It's a beautiful sight."

Raj Desai, a dentist from Columbia, said he expects the wounds to take a long time to heal.

"It's going to be a bloody mess there with a lot of bloodshed and casualties," Desai said. "There will be a long-lasting effect between the feelings of the Middle Eastern countries against the U.S."

Others out for a stroll near the Science Center at the Inner Harbor expressed a confidence in the allied forces and the ground attack.

"It's going to be over within the next two weeks," said Joe Potts, of Detroit. "This will be great for George Bush, politically."

Potts, wearing an Operation Desert Shield sweat shirt, said he believes a decisive victory will boost the image of the U.S. military. But he says he's uncomfortable because the U.S. should not act as the world's policeman.

"The world relies on the U.S. too much," he said. "It's like they keep calling America the '911' [nation]. After a while, it gets overbearing."

Back at the armory, the war protesters condemned the ground attack as an escalation of a hypocritical war. Some said they wonder why the U.S. acted to liberate Kuwait when it has not done enough to secure freedom for blacks in South Africa or to help oppressed people in Third World countries.

"Nobody's going to tie a yellow ribbon around our mouths," shouted one protester. "We'll tell the truth."

"What Bush wants is control over the Middle East," said Cliff Durand. "Hussein's invasion of Kuwait was a convenient opportunity for Bush to do what the United States had long wanted to do -- to establish U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf."

Some protesters held signs that said: "Just War? Just Crazy" and "Stop the bombing. Stop the Killing Now." Others shouted "Hell no, we won't go, we won't fight for Texaco."

Two men burned a paper replica of a U.S. flag.

"If Saddam had invaded Canada or Mexico, I'd probably be in favor of the war," said a protester, who identified himself only as Jim, age 60. He said he was disheartened because the U.S. is defending Kuwait, which he described as "a monarchy where its people don't have rights."

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