By the middle of next month, George W. Bush may or may not have decided to invade Iraq.
Either way, opponents of the proposed war from throughout Colorado are planning to descend on Colorado Springs on Feb. 15 for a gathering labeled as the biggest anti-war rally ever held in the city.
"This is the first-ever statewide rally [for peace] held in Colorado Springs," said Jean Ferguson, a local event organizer with the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission.
The Justice and Peace Commission is one of several organizations that make up the Colorado Coalition against the War on Iraq, which is sponsoring the rally, set to take place in Palmer Park.
The rally will be part of an "international day of protest" against the war and will coincide with similar but larger events in New York City, Cairo, Manila, Ramallah on the West Bank, and more than a dozen major European cities.
According to organizers, groups from Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Longmont, Telluride, Grand Junction and elsewhere around the state are making plans to rent buses or carpool to the Springs for the event. The organizers are anticipating between 500 and 1,000 people will attend.
"We want to take a strong stand for peace," Ferguson said.
A spokesman for the Colorado Springs Police Department, Lt. Skip Arms, said he didn't know yet what preparations police might make. However, he anticipated police would work with organizers to plan crowd-control measures. In addition, for large events, "we always do a threat assessment and plan accordingly," Arms said.
The Coalition against the War opposes attacking Iraq for a number of reasons, ranging from the likely deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and the international precedent the United States would be setting by waging a "preemptive" war, to the cost that U.S. taxpayers would bear.
"The military budget has already totally broken the bank and is robbing domestic programs here in the U.S.," Ferguson charged.
Colorado Springs was selected for the event because of its large military installations and the presence of several major military contractors, making up what Ferguson calls a "microcosm of the military-industrial complex."
However, the rally should not be seen as non-supportive of the many service members in Colorado Springs who may be called to the frontlines, or their families, Ferguson said. Rather, participants will argue that those service members shouldn't be put in harm's way in the first place, she said.
The rally will begin at 11 a.m. in the southeast quadrant of the park, at Maizeland Road and Academy Boulevard. Organizers have rented a stage and are planning to line up several speakers from across the state.
After the rally, participants plan to march to Academy Boulevard and line the street while holding signs and banners.
A blues benefit concert will follow at 7 p.m. at the Business of Arts Center in Manitou Springs.
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