ELKHART — As hundreds of attendees lined up outside the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum for Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren’s campaign rally on Wednesday, a local advocacy group stood off to the side with a different motive.
The Elkhart Advocates for Peace and Justice held a peace vigil against the Trump administration’s Iran policy.
Global worries have flared over whether the administration is seeking military confrontation with Iran. It comes a year after the president’s decision to back out from a 2015 international nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration and continuing with his recent orders for a military buildup.
At Wednesday’s vigil, members carried signs that read, “No War with Iran,” “War is Not the Answer” and “Love is Stronger.” Some passers-by stopped to ask questions, and a couple of folks even joined the group.
Louise Claassen, a member of Elkhart Advocates for Peace and Justice, said the group originally had a vigil planned at the Civic Plaza in downtown Elkhart but, after learning about Warren’s visit, decided to start the vigil at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in an effort to reach more people.
“We thought we’d like to have people know from all sides of the spectrum that we do not want war with Iran,” she said. “We do not want another war.”
During the vigil, Claassen said she was particularly happy to be standing next to a Trump supporter, who was wearing a shirt that said “Veteran for Trump.” Despite their apparent political differences, she said she was glad the two seemed to have an agreement about not wanting war with Iran.
“I think this signifies that we can communicate and listen to each other civility,” she said.
Another member, Sandi Hostetler, described herself as a conscientious objector and said she believes there are better alternatives to solving problems than war.
“I think violence just breeds violence and I don’t like the way this administration is pushing toward war,” she said, “and I feel it’s important to stand up against that.”
Carrying a sign that had multiple messages, one of which read “Trumped-Up pretexts for war,” Wendell Wiebe-Powell said the need to spread peace and have conversations with one another is urgent.
“We need to have our eyes open about this cycle of history and how our leaders have gotten us into wars based on fabricated evidence,” he said.
Patrice Gallagher was heading to the line to see Warren. She came across the group and, after having a conversation with a couple of members, decided to join them and carry a sign for a few minutes.
“I really agree with what they stand for,” Gallagher said. “Peace and no war is the way to go.”
Claassen said turnout for the vigil was low as some members went inside to see Warren’s campaign rally. After the rally, the vigil continued at the Civic Plaza, where more attendees were expected to join.