The image of groups of people standing with large card stock on street corners near State Highway 20 has almost become a familiar sight, though the messages on the signs change.
Thursday afternoon, the Coupeville rally focused on avoiding war amid what seemed to be escalating tensions with Iran.
“We wish we didn’t have to be out here so much,” said Linda Wehrman, one of the organizers. “But we’ll keep doing it.”
Last Friday, a U.S. drone strike, ordered by President Donald Trump, killed Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian Quds Force commander. The administration said it acted in self defense to prevent “imminent attacks.”
Iran’s leaders vowed to retaliate, and the country fired missiles at two Iraqi bases used by U.S. military. There were no reported casualties.
Although tensions seemed to have eased between the two nations, many demonstrators were upset over the lack of evidence of the imminent threat and that the president did not seek congressional approval.
“Troops are in harm’s way right now,” said another organizer Dawna Nolan. “And it’s not apparent there’s good reason for that.”
She and others present had previously served in the military and want to avoid another war. As with demonstrations, Coupeville’s gathering joined hundreds like it across the country.
Coupeville resident Diane Paul said attended because she spent 30 years doing humanitarian work in war zones and had seen firsthand the impact it can have on the civilians there.
The group was mostly made up of Indivisible Whidbey members, a politically active organization that has staged several protests and rallies in the last few years.
The strike also inspired other groups into action.
Quaker Tom Ewell planned a Peace Summit at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Freeland after he heard the news. He invited a number of anti-war and peace-promoting groups, such as the Peaceful Peace Fellowship, the Langley Methodist Church and the universalist members to have a conversation.
“By Monday, we thought we might be going to war,” Ewell said. “It seemed urgent … I think it’s so important we have an opportunity to have people gather.”
The summit takes place today 12:30 p.m. at 20103 Highway 525, Freeland.