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Tuesday, January 16, 2007  
Protesters honor King, decry conflict in Iraq

By: Eric Kurhi
Published In: Inside Bay Area

Small demonstration in Livermore mirrors those in larger cities

AS A GROUP of about 35 peace demonstrators quietly marched past her house on a sleepy downtown side street, Dorothy Wein stepped out onto her porch to cheer them on.

We need to show that we can stand up as Americans, one small town at a time, Wein said. Its wonderful.

For the third year, the group has taken to the streets for two reasons ? to honor slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and to call for an end to the war in Iraq.

Around the Bay Area, several communities commemorated Kings birthday. Caltrains Freedom Train took thousands to San Francisco for an annual gathering honoring the ideals and goals of King. Cities such as Richmond, Walnut Creek, Hercules, El Cerrito and Pittsburg also had celebrations.

While admittedly on a much smaller scale than either the King celebrations or the massive demonstrations in San Francisco that were held shortly after the war began, marches such as the one Monday in Livermore are vital, organizer Mary Perner said.

Its part of a national effort. There are sympathetic peace vigils going on in towns all around the country.

Mondays event began at the United Christian Church on College Avenue. It was sponsored by the Tri-Valley Peace Coalition, which includes members of the United Christian Church and the Tri-Valley Citizens Against a Radioactive Environment.

They walked eight blocks from the church to Lizzie Fountain in the heart of Livermores downtown, with cars occasionally honking in support.

Before the march, local author Prabha Duneja spoke about the similarities between the nonviolence philosophies of Mohandas Gandhi and King, which struck an emotional chord for many in attendance.

And Kings own words were evoked by United Christian Church Pastor Marty Williams, who said they are as apt as ever:

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies or else? The chain reaction of evil ? hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars ? must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Many of the demonstrators joined their voices to sing Where Have All the Flowers Gone? and If I Had a Hammer.

Some shared their own personal dreams of peace.

Susan Bothwell said her 5-year-old son Ty Bothwell-Mitlitsky hears about whats going on when she listens to public radio, and its a source of grave concern.

Its very upsetting to him, she said. This is one way for kids to realize that theres hope for the planet.

She said Tys kindergarten teacher asked the class what they would ask for if given one wish.

My son said he wished that nobody else would die in the war, she said.

Eric Kurhi can be reached at (925) 847-2184 or e-mail

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