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Environmentalists oppose Iraqi war
By Landy McLnick & Jason Irsay

Senior Jonathan Leto marched out to the Chevron gas station across the street from UCF Tuesday morning, where he called attention to what he called the real reason for war with Iraq: oil.

Eight others from groups such as Greenpeace, Campus Peace Action and Peace Orlando joined Leto, 21, on the International Day of Protest. More than 100 similar protests, organized by Target Oil, took place at gas stations across the United States and the United Kingdom.

Waving protest signs that vehemently denounced the credibility of the coming war with Iraq and talking to passers-by, the protesters called on supporters to honk if they opposed the war.

Leto said the protest intended to dispel myths about the pending war. "Today was the International Day of Protest," he said. "Our local chapter of Greenpeace was trying to inform people how the war in Iraq is caused by oil, not the threat of terrorism."

The protesters condemned America's dependence on oil and urged the U.S. to adopt cleaner sources of energy.

Another protester, senior Andrea Cuccaro, 21, used the protest to promote alternative energy sources. "As the vice president of Greenpeace, I thought it was important for members to support this effort with 'No War for Oil' signs, as well as signs for renewable energy," Cuccaro said.

Leto, also a member of Campus Peace Action, said the country's dependence on oil is growing.

"While the U.S. consumes a quarter of the world's oil and imports half of its daily consumption, Vice President [Dick] Cheney's energy plan shows the U.S. to be moving toward increasing that to two-thirds per day by 2020," Leto said.

Cuccaro questioned America's policy toward Iraq.

"It's interesting that France, China and Russia are the three nations in the permanent Security Council who aren't supporting this effort, when all three nations depend on Iraq for oil, and the U.S. has been banned from Iraq's supply for a decade," Cuccaro said.

"When are we going to move toward more efficient cars, and renewable energy?" Cuccaro asked. "Bush already opened the door for hydrogen-fuel cells in his State of the Union Address."

Popular renewable energy sources include hydrogen-fuel cell and solar energy technology, which could potentially reduce America's daily oil intake. The demonstration came out in full support of these alternatives to gasoline consumption, taking a firm stand on the Iraqi oil agenda.

The protesters drew both positive and negative responses from passers-by and drew some media attention. "We got a lot of honks with support for what we were doing," Cuccaro said. "We got some negative reactions. I think there were more positive ones."

Leto said the protesters accomplished their goal of raising awareness. "Some people walked by and were interested," Leto said. "We got their e-mails. I was talking to a veteran in front of the [Fox 35] camera. He said he agreed with us."

However, not everyone agreed. "[There were] lots of expletives being yelled that have nothing to do with war," he said.

Despite the negative reactions, Leto and Cuccaro plan to continue their protests against war with Iraq.

While Cuccaro called the turnout pretty decent, Leto hoped for more students at the next protest. "There can always be more," Leto said.

Cuccaro will try to recruit more students if Target Oil plans a second International Day of Protest. "I think we'll definitely come out and represent if we find out there's another International Day of Protest," she said.

Both Cuccaro and Leto credited the peace rallies downtown on Saturdays for helping to spread the anti-war message.

Leto said Campus Peace Action plans to bring that message to campus with another anti-war rally next Wednesday.

Most importantly the organizations that came out in protest wanted to show that there were alternatives to violence and that people could take a stand against the war by supporting alternative energy resources. With the anti-war movement mounting on campuses nationwide, many American students are demanding to have their voices heard.


Jonathan Leto - jonathan at leto dot net
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