Fayetteville anti-war protest adds to post-airstrike response


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Chants, songs and “honks” rang down College Ave. during an anti-war demonstration Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville. The peaceful protest was another element in Northwest Arkansans’ reactions to Thursday’s U.S. airstrike that killed a major Iranian general.

“[The conflict] threatens to be very catastrophic, so we’re out here calling for a stop to this war,” said Abel Tomlinson, the protest’s organizer.

From 11 a.m. to the afternoon, protesters raised signs with phrases like “I won’t fight another rich man’s war”, “Support the troops; bring them home” and “Stop U.S. imperialism”.

Others implored drivers to “honk” if they were with the movement, to which many travelling down Dickson St. or College Ave. responded in kind.

The protest was organized in response to Thursday’s airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. The U.S. Defense Department blames the general for hundreds of American deaths, including a contractor on Dec. 27.

Arkansas-based lawmakers have made strong responses to President Trump administration’s decision to call in the strike, which spurred the Iranian government to declare it would retaliate.

“We are going to protect our people and our interests, American interests,” said U.S. Sen. Steve Womack (R). “[Trump’s] looking them straight down the barrel, and he’s calling it for what it is: terror, and that it’s not gonna be tolerated. America’s gonna stand up and lead.”

Trump said Soleimani was planning more attacks on Americans.

“He was plotting attacks against Americans, but now we’ve ensured that his atrocities have been stopped for good,” Trump said.

Tomlinson said American aggression needs to be taken into account when formulating opinions on the subject.

“Iran is surrounded by our wars and our military bases, so we are the aggressor,” Tomlinson said. “A lot of what Iran is doing is defensive, and we need to ultimately get out of the Middle East and stop threatening everyone and killing everyone.”

Tomlinson said the threat of heightened tension is enough to spur protests.

“There’s no real understanding of what could ultimately happen,” Tomlinson said. “It could blow up into a world war. This is very, very dangerous.”

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