Skip to content

Protesters Peacefully Wheel Coffin up to Convention Gates

About 50 protesters marching on behalf of the anti-war group Veterans for Peace made a quiet statement today, the day before the Republican National Convention opens, wheeling a flag-covered coffin through downtown St. Paul, Minn., to the convention site.

The protesters, who oppose the Iraq War, walked almost silently to the slow beat of drums while a crew of about 100 police officers blocked them from passing through the gated entrance. No arrests were made at the gate.

Juan Torres of Chicago, a father who lost his son in the war in 2004, marched alongside the coffin with a photo of his son.

“I am here demanding peace – no more war in Iraq, no more war in Afghanistan,” Torres said. Torres said his son died in a base in Iraq, though he added that he is still searching for more information about his death from the government.

The protesters remained at the gate for about an hour before continuing to march down the streets of downtown St. Paul.

“Moments like this bring it home, and it’s the real reality we have to face,” said Rita McDonald of the Sisters of St. Joseph’s of Carondelet in Minneapolis, who was one of the marchers today.

“We’re joining these people who are trying to give the message of the reality of how terrible, sinful and immoral war is,” McDonald said.

Veterans of both the Vietnam and Iraq wars took part in the protest.

“We’re here to stop the war in Iraq. That’s all we can do … because the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is the same recipe that we saw in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos,” said Vietnam veteran Mike Hastie, who served in 1970 and ’71.

Barring a change in plans because of Hurricane Gustav, the convention is supposed to begin Monday. A number of other anti-war groups have scheduled to gather in various locations in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.