Sonora citizens say no to war with Iraq

February 06, 2003 11:00 pm

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

Jim Toner has organized a march for peace.

He calls it an act of patriotism, although some people would disagree.

Toner, a professor at Columbia College, said the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reinforces his appreciation of being an American — and provides him the right to express his feelings about the possible war with Iraq.

The First Amendment guarantees the rights of religion, free speech, free press, peaceable assembly and the right to petition the government to address grievances.

Toner, who recently attended his first peace march in San Francisco, suggested a similar march in Tuolumne County.

The suggestion came at a Martin Luther King Jr., observance Jan. 19, and the number of people who responded favorably surprised Toner.

"The will to march has been there, but it required someone to nudge it along," Toner said.

The march will take place at noon Saturday, Feb. 15, starting at Woods Creek Rotary Park, across from the Mother Lode Fairgrounds on Stockton Road in Sonora. It will end with a rally at Courthouse Square on Washington Street.

Marches are taking place around the world on the same day in what the London Daily Mirror calls the largest-ever mobilization against war.

"On the march itself, you do what you want," Toner said, explaining that there won't be a particular sign or chant.

"This isn't a highly choreographed wedding; we're just providing the scaffolding."

In Calaveras County, a similar movement is taking place. Calaveras Citizens for Peace hold a candle-light vigil from 4 - 6 tonight and the first Friday of every month, Highway 4 and 49 in Angels Camp, at the stoplight near Bret Harte High School.

"We're planning on doing this until the (potential) war stops," said organizer Patty Payne.