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Peace commission sits down with police

Nearly three months after the controversial arrests of peace marchers during the St. Patrick's Day parade, activist leaders and police sat down last week in what has become a series of meetings that will aim to ease tensions and suspicions on both sides.

Jeff Briggs, who leads the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, said the meeting with Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers and other top officers was mainly a "get-to-know-you."

"We didn't get down to details," Briggs said after the meeting.

Police forcibly removed seven marchers from the parade after organizers objected to their anti-war signs. Marchers, some of whom were bruised and scraped in the incident, alleged police used excessive force. Myers says that force was justified. The goal of the talks is to prevent similar situations in the future through better communication on both sides.

Meanwhile, Independent publisher John Weiss says he hopes to formally bring his proposal for a forum on the subject to the City Council in July. The forum would probably take place in the fall, according to Weiss.

A majority of council members have expressed interest in participating. MdY

Free parking for hybrids in Manitou

City parking is now free for hybrid vehicles in Manitou Springs. The city's Metropolitan Parking District voted last week to waive costs for the cars, which typically are identifiable by a sign in the window. Several other cities nationwide have done the same.

"Manitou wants to do its part on the environmental issues in the United States," says Manitou City Administrator Verne Witham.

That said, he admits this step in the right direction is largely symbolic.

"It probably was an environmental gesture that won't amount to a hill of beans," he says.

Manitou also recently approved a plan to track and reduce emissions. As a "city for climate protection," it may switch out its vehicles and stoplights for more efficient replacements. NZ

Local Darfur action heats up

Until recently, Sudan activism in the Springs was relegated to college campuses, where student agitators set up mock refugee camps to raise awareness about the genocide that has killed 400,000 people and displaced 2.3 million more. Now, local citizen groups and churches will join to raise money for humanitarian aid.

On June 30, the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission and CARE, an aid group, will host a Sudan benefit dinner. Participants will rove through four downtown churches, eating a course at each house of worship.

Each ticket-holder will also receive an index card with the story of an individual who has worked or lived in Darfur. There will be African music and dancing, in addition to local speakers.

"I thought it would be great to get faith-based groups together to take a stance and say, 'We all believe that this is not fair. We believe that every life is important. And we believe our government should do what it can to stop the killing,'" says Cynthia Lang, who organized the event.

Tickets are $25 and space is limited. Contact the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission at 632-6189. Or donate at care.org. NZ

Local woman in Hall of Fame contention

Thursday, a Colorado Springs resident finds out whether her efforts to help Ethiopian women still have a chance for a $15,000 boost.

Rebekah Kiser is one of 100 semifinalists hoping to be selected a finalist for the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame. Inspired by a visit to Ethiopia in 2003, the Mary Kay sales director has used her own funds to start Trampled Rose, an outreach center there for some of the country's 100,000 women with fistula.

The condition, a hole between a women's birth passage and one or more of her internal organs, is caused by obstructed childbirth and characterized by a constant leakage of bodily fluids. Many of the women afflicted with fistula are exiled from their communities because of their inability to bear more children and the foul smell associated with the condition. Corrective surgery can repair the tear, giving the woman control of her bodily functions again.

"This problem has been eradicated in the western world for 200 years," Kiser says. "Why not here?"

Karen Gale, a friend, entered Kiser into the Keep Going contest, which awards a single winner chosen from 700 entrants with a $10,000 cash prize and a $5,000 donation to their charity of choice. To vote for one of the 10 finalists, visit energizer.com/halloffame. To learn more about Trampled Rose, go to trampledrose.org. AL

Compiled by Amanda Lundgren, Michael de Yoanna and Naomi Zeveloff.

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