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dueling protests in Champaign, Ill.
News-Gazette (Champaign, Ill.) ^ | March 22, 2003 | Paul Wood

Posted on 03/23/2003 7:33:54 AM PST by sigtux

   CHAMPAIGN – The organizer of a Pro America rally on North Prospect Avenue says today's crowd should be much larger than last week's.
   The rally is competing for space on Prospect Avenue to try to influence Saturday shoppers. For more than six months, a Prospect For Peace rally has been held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
   The Pro America Rally will run from 1:30 to 4 p.m., with an oversize flag, music and miniature flags.
   Organizer Mark Thompson said he has contacted groups and expects hundreds of people.
   The first week, the rally never had more than about 60 people at a time, but Thompson expects far more today.
   It looks huge, he said Friday. But 500, 50,000 or 500,000 is not enough people, considering that our soldiers are giving their lives for America.
   It may seem so insignificant for an individual to come out on the street. But just ask a Vietnam veteran how important it would have been to him. This is a darn good way to show support.
   Thompson said he expected his crowd to grow slowly.
   After the Illini (basketball) victory, we can all come out for the second half of the rally, he said.
   He said fellow organizers have contacted many organizations, including local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, Veterans Administration facilities and political Web sites.
   The anti-government crowd is getting under a lot of people's skins, he said.
   He is also running radio ads on WPGU The Planet and WDWS.
   Initially, Thompson, who owns Slot And Wing Hobbies, was paying for promoting the rally out of his own pocket.
   We're getting donations now, he said. People are realizing the costs involved in doing this. One anonymous donor gave me $200.
   Good Vibes is providing a sound system so that the rally can play the Illini vs. Notre Dame game, then patriotic music, and Pepsi has donated some beverages, he said.
   We got the word out to a number of the unions. We're just crossing our fingers that there will be a lot of people, he said. You would think a war would motivate people – it seems it's motivated the other crowd.
   Thompson said he believes most Americans support President Bush's military policy.
   Our country's not divided. The people who really stand on that other side are really quite slim. I think people realize war is an incredibly horrible thing, but we've got a madman in office who, just for the sake of his lifestyle, wasn't willing to stand down, even at the cost of his country, he said, referring to Saddam Hussein.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; US: Illinois; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: champaign; iraq; march22reports; protest; support

1 posted on 03/23/2003 7:33:54 AM PST by sigtux
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To: sigtux
2 posted on 03/23/2003 7:40:06 AM PST by EdReform (Support Free Republic -
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To: EdReform
The hand-full of anti-war protestors at this intersection has been skinny but persistant. God bless this guy for organizing to counteract them.
3 posted on 03/23/2003 7:44:26 AM PST by Endeavor
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