WAR IN IRAQ 2003: Protest Brings Centre to Halt; COLLEGE STUDENTS AMONG SCORES WHO SIT IN ROAD TO SHOW ANGER OVER ATTACK ON IRAQ

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), March 21, 2003 | Go to article overview

WAR IN IRAQ 2003: Protest Brings Centre to Halt; COLLEGE STUDENTS AMONG SCORES WHO SIT IN ROAD TO SHOW ANGER OVER ATTACK ON IRAQ


Byline: ARRYN BUGGINS

ANTI-WAR campaigners came out in their hundreds to bring Leamington town centre to a standstill yesterday.

The protesting went on for nearly three hours as students and adults marched down the Parade to a rally in the Pump Room Gardens, and some then went on to sit in the Parade.

The protest saw the Parade/Warwick Street junction blocked off and a smaller group then sat on the Parade/Dormer Place roundabout.

Police marshalled motorists around the campaign.

Some hecklers tried to agitate the Pump Room Gardens rally and others took offence when the Union Jack was burned in the street.

Police made no arrests until a fraction of the original protesters blocked Clarendon Avenue at about 3pm.

More than 1,000 people took part in a peaceful protest down the Parade on Saturday March 1, but yesterday's protest was nowhere near that size.

Leamington's Stop the War Coalition had announced that people should meet at noon on the day that war broke out.

Most of the students came from North Leamington's College's sixth form centre in Binswood Avenue.

The school has declined to comment on the walkout.

The rally in the Pump Room Gardens was addressed by Binswood student Afshin Shahi, aged 19, of Regent Place, who grew up in the Middle East and came to Leamington two years ago.

He said the war could not be fought in his name.

Other speakers criticised the Labour government and James Plaskitt, Warwick and Leamington's Labour MP, for not representing the views of his constituents.

Onlookers were bemused by the protest.

Greg Muldoon, aged 37, of Othello Avenue, Warwick Gates, said: "I would have thought these youngsters would be better off at college. War has started.

"I don't know quite what they think they will achieve with singing and shouting. …

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