“We’ll stay here all day to remind people we’ve been in Iraq for seven years,” longtime Reno activist Lisa Stiller said. Sitting on the Reno federal courthouse steps, Stiller and a few other activists flew peace flags and offered information on the local anti-war movement. “My trust factor in Obama has gone down since he was elected. Sending our men out to die, that’s not the way to end terrorism. We need more diplomacy, one of Obama’s (campaign) promises.”
Stiller said she is upset over the billions of public dollars spent and thousands of American lives lost during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan while economic problems persist at home. The wars are costing American taxpayers $8 to $12 billion a month, according to fliers handed out by Stiller.
“While we’re fighting a war we can’t win, people are dying in this country due to lack of health care,” Stiller said. “How can we justify this expenditure (on war)?”
While the gathering of activists was small — about 40 people — they seemed to elicit support in the form of peace signs from passing motorists. A few years ago, when support was strong for the Iraq War, local activists endured a more mixed response with accusations of being unpatriotic — or worse, traitors to their country. It hasn’t deterred those with the persistence to keep up their anti-war agenda.
“I came down to support the troops and to annoy the federal employees,” peace activist Gale Patterson joked during Saturday’s event. For two years, Patterson has rattled courthouse security with her weekly “Molly Ivins Pots ‘N’ Pans Brigade” — a cacophonous event with protesters banging pots and pans for peace. Patterson, a former news reporter, said she named the event after a newspaper columnist who died of breast cancer in 2007.
“To protest this war, she (Ivins) said to go out into the streets, bang on pots and pans and demand they stop it now,” Patterson explained. The event is staged each Tuesday from 3:30 to 4 p.m. in front of the federal courthouse.
“Over the past two years, we’ve had a lot of support on the streets,” Ivins claimed on Saturday. “They (federal employees) respect our persistence.”
Outwardly mild-mannered, peace activist Bruce Comer said he’s angered by the American government’s military spending. Comer believes half of his tax dollars go to support the “war machine.”
“It pisses me off, seriously,” Comer said. “The dollars spent lines the pockets of the CEOs of companies that make the materials for war. They want to keep the wars going.
“War should be obsolete,” Comer said as he flashed the two-fingered peace sign smiling as the sign was returned by passing drivers on Saturday. “It should be illegal to make profits off war.”
Saturday’s protest was sponsored by the Sierra Interfaith Action for Peace and with support from members of the Reno Anti-War Group.