Rally gathers community support

Brian Stryker / The Daily
Alumnus Brad Jacobsmeyer, left, addresses supporters of U.S. soldiers as College Republicans Secretary Molly Kidwell looks on. Around 60 people came to show their support of U.S. military personnel.

by Lauren Graf

Signs emblazoned with slogans such as “Let’s roll, death to jihad” and “Save U.S. lives, drop U.S. bombs” decorated the hands of demonstrators taking part in a pro-troops rally organized by UW College Republicans (UWCR) in front of Husky Stadium Saturday.

With supporters ranging in age from teen to senior, the crowd of about 60 was a near split between student and non-student supporters.

“I’m loving it,” said sociology junior Sara Racey-Tabrizi. “I’m so sick of anti-war protests and professors who preach their political views. I’m half-Iranian, so I’m very much in favor of war.”

Planners sent more than 1,000 e-mails to various political groups across the state and posted messages on Web sites to publicize the rally.

Pleased with the numbers, organizers were also appreciative of the steady honking of passersby and the occasional police siren responding to their presence.

“I’m really happy with the turnout. Everyone is sharing stories with each other,” said UWCR Secretary Molly Kidwell. “But the response from the cars is what is really encouraging.”

The rally, while planned in response to February’s anti-war protests, was not planned to be pro-war, but rather to voice support for the troops abroad.

“The anti-war demonstrations never say that they support the troops,” said Eric Hasson, president of Huskies for Israel.

Though the event was sponsored by UWCR, organizers stressed the non-partisan objective of the rally.

“Not everybody here is a Republican, and this is not about party affiliation,” said Kidwell.

Hasson, a non-partisan supporter, summed up his reason for attending the rally in one word: “democracy.”

The rally was much smaller than the recent anti-war protests that totaled millions worldwide and thousands locally, and supporters offered justification for their numbers.

“I suppose if we were using anti-war protesters’ tactics, we would have their turnout,” said Brad Jacobsmeyer, a UW alumnus and former UWCR president. “Typically, you don’t protest unless you’re angry about something. We’re not the aggrieved party.”

Toting a sign reading: “Praise the Lord and pass the ammo,” Edmonds resident Renn Hanson, 38, was pleased to exercise his freedom of speech.

“They have the right to say what they want, and we have the right to say what we want,” said Hanson. “I’m glad there are people out there who support the troops.”