UI students protest Libya airstrikes

BY SARAH BULMER | MARCH 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa freshman Joey Gallagher sat in the spring rain Monday, protesting U.S. involvement in the conflict in Libya.

“Obama No ‘Change’ From Bush,” Gallagher’s sign read.

Students held a rally at the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Clinton Street to raise awareness of issues abroad on campus, said Dustin Krutsinger, the organizer of the protest.

“If anyone has disagreements with wars in general, this is a trigger point,” the 28-year-old graduate student said. “We’re against the cruelty of wars.”

UI students gathered to voice their opinions after learning about the event on Facebook.

“Unless we can create awareness about … U.S. foreign policy … the problem will persist through this generation of future policy movers and shakers,” UI junior Daniel Olinghouse, a political science major, wrote in an e-mail.

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Krutsinger invited approximately 172 people to the Facebook event, but a half-hour into the event, only four had shown up.

Protesters sat on the railings in front of the Old Capitol, the ink of their signs running in the rain. Several passersby stopped to chat with the ralliers.

“I’d rather have the disadvantages of too much liberty than the disadvantages of too little,” Gallagher said.

The U.S. and its allies carried out a series of air strikes and missile strikes on Libya starting March 19. With the military action, officials have attempted to impose a “no-fly zone” to stop attacks on rebels from Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to the Associated Press.

“Anytime the government gets involved in anything as costly as launching missiles, or contributing forces and humanitarian aid, it affects people all over the United States,” Olinghouse said.

Gallagher said he is concerned for fellow UI students who might have to go abroad and fight for the U.S.

“People from Iowa City might go over there,” he said. “I don’t want to lose any more people.”

Protesters at the rally, as well as those who wrote on the wall of the event’s Facebook page, agreed that while U.S. involvement in Libyan affairs may be crucial, the extent of U.S. efforts has gone too far.

“Being brutally crushed for decades upon decades for speaking up for your rights as not only a human being but as a citizen of your nation is not what most would consider ‘free,’ ” Olinghouse said.

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