Peace activists with Wheels of Justice demonstrated Thursday at Speaker’s Circle on the MU campus, speaking in opposition of U.S. military operations in Iraq. The event was co-sponsored at MU by Students for Progressive Action and the Muslim Students Organization.
Wheels of Justice activists visit universities throughout the school year, giving students eyewitness accounts of their experiences in Iraq.
All of the activists who travel with Wheels of Justice have spent time in Iraq working with its citizens to improve their standard of living.
Mike Miles, a speaker with the organization, said the Iraqi people were welcoming to the activists, much to his surprise.
“The Iraqis understood that we were not the American government. They would say, ‘Yes, your government killed my son, but what we want you to do is to go home and tell your people what you saw here,’” Miles said. “And that is exactly what we are doing.”
Lana Jacobs, a Columbia resident and supporter of Wheels of Justice, said the goal of the bus tour is to educate students about the effects of war on the Iraqi people.
“We want to bring the story to the American people, not filtered through the media or through the government,” Jacobs said.
“We are not affiliated with a political party. We have no political agenda. We just want to give a first-hand account of what is happening over there.” Jacobs also said the timing of the bus tour had nothing to do with the presidential election.
The Wheels of Justice bus tour began with a six-week trial tour in October 2000. Miles said the tour’s effectiveness has led to its continuation. Between four and six crew members — a driver, a tour manager and two to four speakers — travel from university to univer-sity on a 37-foot, multicolored school bus. The bus’s exterior prominently displays the organization’s slogan, “Education through non-violence.” The bus engine has been converted to run on used vegetable oil.
“I think that considering the is-sue at hand — the fact that we as Americans over-consume oil — it’s important that we fully represent what we stand for,” Jacobs said.
Activists with Wheels of Justice will continue with the bus tour through May. They will then take a break until the school year starts again in September, Miles said.
“We had no idea that the bus tour would be so effective,” Miles said. “But it’s been totally effective, and as long as that continues, we are going to keep traveling.”