War protestors hope to gather hundreds of people at the corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive tonight for a candlelight vigil, and they say they’re making plans for even larger protests on the day America goes to war.
The 7 p.m. vigil is part of the Global Vigil for Peace and will be observed at several other sites around the East Valley, though Tempe will host the largest one, said organizer Kyrsten Sinema.
She said she expects between 300 and 500 protestors. "There are four corners," she said. "If it gets really big, we can get people to walk to Tempe Beach Park."
The event will be a somber, quiet night for people who "believe in the idea of solidarity throughout the world and are hoping for a peaceful solution," she said.
Mesa resident Maggie Silk said she’s attended several protests recently and will continue to publicly show her opposition to war.
"Ninety percent of the people who do see us and pass us are supportive," she said. "That doesn’t reflect on the polls you see in the news."
The Tempe intersection has been the site of small protests each Monday since Sept. 11, 2001, Sinema said. The crowd could be larger than normal this Monday — the day many thought could be the first day of war, she said.
Protestors also meet at 5 p.m. each Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the corner of Central Avenue and McDowell Road in Phoenix. And the Women in Black, who distribute literature against war, meet at several locations on Wednesdays, including the Mesa Public Library at 5:30 p.m., Phoenix’s Burton Barr Central Library at 4:30 p.m. and in front of the student union at Arizona State University at 11:30 a.m.
Should war break out, the Valley’s peace groups are encouraging supporters to gather immediately at Mill and University or Central and McDowell, Sinema said.
"Get up and walk out, get in the car and drive to the protests," Sinema said. "We expect a huge turnout on that day — unless that day doesn’t come."
Tempe police Sgt. Dan Masters said his department has recently reminded plainclothes officers to keep their uniforms handy in case they are needed to help control crowds. He said officers will try to help protestors understand what behavior could get them in trouble, such as blocking traffic or disrupting local businesses.
Global Vigil for Peace
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Several locations in the East Valley, including:
• Corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive in Tempe
• Steele Indian School Park, 302 East Indian School Road, Phoenix
• Dr. A. J. Chandler Park, 3 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler
• St. Daniel Catholic Church, 1030 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale
• First Presbyterian Church, 161 N. Mesa Drive, Mesa