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Small group of students protests war in Iraq
Event at UMW draws about 25; at the same time, dozens of others party at 'Rocktoberfest.'

 Jeff May (right) a University of Mary Washington sophomore, takes part in an anti-war protest on campus yesterday afternoon. About two dozen students participated in the protest.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 10/6/2006

By MELISSA NIX

By MELISSA NIX

The group of University of Mary Washington students had taped sheets of paper to the side of the fountain outside Monroe Hall. The names of 300 American soldiers--just over 10 percent of U.S. military casualties of the war in Iraq--fluttered in the autumn wind. A ring of death.

It was one of many statements made by members of Students for a Democratic Society and the Anarchist Social Theory Club--two UMW organization that hosted an anti-war protest yesterday afternoon as part of a nationwide day of protest organized by anti-war group The World Can't Wait.

The UMW event drew fewer than 25 students on a campus with more than 4,000. Dozens of students were at "Rocktoberfest" instead, a music and barbecue party going on at the same time.

Still, those at the fountain were passionate.

"[We attacked] a sovereign nation that has done nothing to attack an American group of people," said junior Phil Arnone, standing on top of the fountain and speaking into a megaphone.

Arnone called for people to support soldiers who don't want to fight in Iraq, noting that some are "sucked into the military" because of desperate circumstances "created by the unjust nature of the economic system."

Students began to sit down as he spoke. Sophomores Quintalis Hall and Chet Prailey, both 19, came to support fellow sophomores and friend Jason Walsh, founder of UMW's SDS chapter. They had mixed feelings about the protest--and the war.

"If we're there to fight terrorists, then I'm for it," Prailey said. "But we're killing innocent civilians while we're over there. It's kinda shady."

Sophomore Sean O'Brien said he supports the president on the global war on terror, but "whether Iraq is a part of that, I'm skeptical."

He came to the protest with an open mind, he said.

Walsh stood up on the fountain, taking over from Arnone. He held up a thick packet of papers--268 pages bearing the names of the 2,736 soldiers who have died since the war began.


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