Originally published October 29, 2010
If you drive through the University and Main Street intersection on a Saturday afternoon, chances are you’ll be prompted to “Honk if you want peace!” by former FBI agent Jack Ryan and the rest of the Peoria Area Peace Network.
“We’ve been out here every Saturday since the second Gulf war started nine years ago to protest,” said Ryan, president of the PAPN. “Even when it’s freezing cold and snowing we still come out here to protest that war.”
During the first few years of PAPN’s existence, people weren’t very supportive of their cause, PAPN member Tonya Sneed said.
“We didn’t get a lot of support in the beginning,” she said. “Sometimes people would yell really dumb stuff, and we even got mooned a couple of times. Orange juice and soda have been thrown at us too. People are a lot more supportive now though. We get a lot of support from people who drive by.”
Sometimes support comes from unexpected people – like soldiers.
“Soldiers come by and talk to us quite a bit,” Sneed said. “They’re always very respectful. One time a soldier with post traumatic stress disorder came by and was extra supportive. He told us that there was no water or electricity in Baghdad and he stopped supporting the war as soon as he saw what a mess it was there. Before he left, he thanked us for protesting.”
One of the major reasons the PAPN is protesting the war is because of what is happening to the civilians in the Middle East.
“Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani, and over a million Iraqi, civilians have been killed,” Ryan said. “A lot of the educated people are fleeing their homes and countries all together. Tons of people have frozen to death in Afghanistan because they have lost their homes. This war is creating a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering. It’s just really sad that the war is still going on.”
When the PAPN is not protesting the war, they protest and support many other causes.
“We also support a lot of other causes, like animal rights, anti-death penalty, and education rights,” Sneed said. “A few of us have our own websites supporting these causes. We also have a TV program Friday nights from 7 to 8 p.m. and Mondays from 8 to 10 p.m. on channel 22 to support these causes and a few others.”
The PAPN is always open to having more people join their cause, and they are especially interested in having students join them.
“If any Bradley students want to join any of our causes, they are more than welcome to come talk to us,” Sneed said. “We’re always on the corner of University and Main on Saturday afternoons.”