Stand, wave, smile and protest

When you get right down to it, there are three types of honkers who drive past the weekly anti-war protest in front of the Federal Court House every Thursday. You’ve got your tootlers, the ones who smile and beep their horns in two or three short bursts to the folks standing on the corner of W. Main and Ridge/McIntire streets with placards that say things like “Out of Iraq Now” and “Honk For Peace.” And there are the silent honkers, those that give a little wave or thumbs-up.

But then you have your cathartic honkers, the ones that speed past the protesters, pounding their horns so loud and long that they are heard long after they drive out of sight. They hit their horns again and again, not looking at the protests as most do but instead staring straight ahead, off into some distance.

“There are different responses,” says Linda Hemby, “but they’ve been really positive.” Hemby has been coming to the weekly protests off and on since before the Iraq invasion. She says that after living in El Salvador during its civil war—in which the U.S. played a major role—she sees that conflict and other U.S. interventions like Iraq as one very large war.

The eight protestors, ranging in age from their late 40s to mid-80s, hold signs by the side of the road, smile and wave. The majority of the drivers wave back. It’s a downright neighborly protest.

Easter and Chris Martin are regulars. Chris is a WWII veteran, Easter is his wife, and she wears a red shirt that reads “Impeach Bush & Cheney.” “We get a lot of honking and thumbs-up,” says Easter. Just then, someone takes the turn from Water Street on to Ridge giving her a thumbs-up. “See?” she says. “Thumbs-up.”

There are, of course, the occasional thumbs-down. Each one this Thursday, as Hemby predicted, came from a white, middle-age man alone in his car. One rides by and yells, “Kill ’em all!,” presumably not referencing Metallica’s debut album. Another shouts, “You’re killing the troops!” And a third, a young man in sunglasses driving a maroon Grand Am, silently makes the turn onto Ridge flipping off the Martins and Jane Foster, who’s 83.

“I’ve gotten the finger every now and then,” says Foster, whose husband usually drops her off at the protest every week, “but mostly it’s people waving. They really are happy to have a chance to participate and show how they feel.”

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