By Kevin Ritchie
A group of Ryerson students put their Thanksgiving festivities on the backburner Sunday to join local activists in protesting British and American bombing of Afghanistan in retaliation for last month’s terrorist strikes on New York and Washington.
Shanel Beebe was supposed to be eating Thanksgiving dinner in Pitman Hall at 5 p.m. But when the first-year image arts student heard about the Western retaliation, she checked her e-mail and found a message from RyeSAC president Odelia Bay calling students to protest the bombings.
Beebe, Bay and about six other Ryerson students gathered in the bitter cold with a group of about 75 local demonstrators next to the U.S. Consulate on University Ave.
United States and Britain declined to strike Afghanistan after the ruling Taliban government refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile believed responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks which killed more than 5,000 people.
Although the small protest would not be seen by many people, Beebe felt participating was more important than eating turkey dinner.
“I’m thinking about the Afghani people,” Beebe said. “There’s going to be a lot of casualties for civilians.”
Bay was visiting family in North York when the news broke. It took her an hour and a half to return to the city. She and Ken Marciniec, RyeSAC’s v.p. finance and development, brought a sign that read, “Ryerson students against war and racism.”
“I’m worried about our civilization,” Bay said. “I’m worried about the ramifications for my family in the Middle East.”
The call for Sunday’s demonstration went out weeks ago. A message on Toronto Mobilization for Global Justice’s mailing list said no matter when it happened, members would demonstrate at the consulate at 5 p.m. on the day of the attack.
On Saunday, the protesters walked in a circle and former RyeSAC president Erin George led the anti-war chants, shouting, “Islam is not the enemy, war is not the answer.”
“We just called our family and said we’re going to be late for dinner,” said George.
“Innocent civilians are being bombed in a desolate country. If we want to make sure the horrifying events of Sept. 11 are not repeated, then we have to eradicate the insecurity people feel on a global scale.”
People in anti-war movement want world governments to put aside bullets and bombs ans fight terrorism by ending global poverty, pushing environmental causes, cancelling Third-World dept and dropping sanctions against Iraq.
Local activist coalitions will hold a rally at Queen’s Park on Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. to get this message across.