At 33rd Street and Greenmount Avenue last night, Ben Farr shivered in the cold while voicing heated criticism of the Persian Gulf War.
Farr and 20 other members of Refuse and Resist!, a national anti-war group, were protesting the war on the eve of its first anniversary. Today they planned to return to the intersection for further protest of what they call America's "national day of shame."
"We must understand . . . that the U.S. is the greatest purveyor of violence in this entire world," Farr, 20, said.
"People need to get angry with the government for what they've done . . . and squandering the resources of the country," Farr said as traffic and pedestrians passed the protesters.
Farr said Americans are feeling the effects of the war's cost and pointed to economic woes, decreased medical care, lowered standards of living and cuts in education aid and social service programs.
No sooner had Farr uttered those comments when a woman interrupted him and asked for money to feed herself and her children.
"That's the price we're paying for the Persian Gulf War," Farr said. "The price of two Stealth bombers could balance the budget of this state."
"Military spending is stealing our children's future," read a placard displayed during the demonstration.
The war directed by the United States didn't benefit average American citizens but big business and oil companies, the protesters charge.
Allan Barysh, 45, a protester, said Americans have been misled.
"There was a sense of euphoria that we didn't lose a lot of American lives," Barysh said, "that we have licked the Vietnam syndrome."
But Barysh said Persian Gulf veterans have harrowing stories about Iraqi civilian and military casualties that U.S. leaders failed to reveal.
Farr said a friend who served in the gulf told him that "an officer put a gun to [his] head when he refused to shell surrendering Iraqis with mortar fire."
The group is seeking amnesty for U.S. soldiers it said refused to kill Iraqis.