Picketers return to Whidbey

A recently-formed group remembered the one-year anniversary of the Iraq war by questioning the purpose of it.

The group, Coupeville Peace and Reconciliation, spent Saturday afternoon picketing on the corner of Main Street and Highway 20 in Coupeville.

“It’s part of the worldwide expression that there are other ways to settle international disputes besides war,” said one member, Jack Tingstad.

Others picketing echoed Tingstad’s comments.

“I just hate war and and don’t support war at all,” said Oak Harbor resident Tim Deiotte. “I don’t think there’s any problem with expressing my opinion.”

Coupeville resident Thelma Jensen added, “I’m against Bush and I’m against the Iraq war. I stood out here a year ago.”

Founders of Coupeville Peace and Reconciliation started picketing on the corner in September of 2002 and continued through April of 2003.

In addition to questioning the war in Iraq, the group, which came up with its formal name last November, is also focusing on several other issues.

Tingstad said the group is trying to encourage more people to vote, regardless of their political beliefs. He added that if twice the number of people voted, then the results would be more representative of people’s beliefs.

Other issues the group focus on include fighting what they see as the erosion of civil liberties caused by such legislation as the Patriot Act.

The group is tied in with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, comprised of cities, counties and three states that passed resolutions affirming the Bill of Rights.

CPR wants to work with the Town of Coupeville to draft a similar resolution.

Tingstad also said the group wants to talk with high school students who are considering military service to ensure they understand the time commitment involved and the requirements to get financial support for college.

He added that the group isn’t trying to talk students out of serving in the military.

The Coupeville Peace and Reconciliation group was inspired by the Whidbey Peace and Reconciliation network located on South Whidbey, Tingstad said.

The group also provides a gathering place where members can share experiences, Tingstad said. Members meet every other week.

Their mission statement says the group is a “community of concerned citizens whose aim is to challenge the growing militarism and acceptance of war.”

The statement further said they are committed to supporting long-term peace and reconciliation in the world through information, education and action.

During Saturday’s event the picketers were greeted by many drivers honking in support while a few others shouted obscenities.

Tingstad pointed out that people are normally driving so fast on the highway that any voice picketers may hear is garbled.

However, one passerby did walk up on the walking bridge going over the highway and cut down a banner that said, “Whidbey still says no to war.”

That was seen as hurtful to some doing the picketing.

“You don’t know what that does to me,” Deiotte said, adding that he’s been called a coward when he pickets even though he served as a medic in the Vietnam War.

Picketers eventually rolled up the dangling banner and continued with the protest.

Tingstad said people’s response to the group’s efforts were generally positive.

He’s unsure if the picketers will again become a regular fixture at the intersection. Members have to decide that at upcoming meetings.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynews

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