Correction: This story (published Monday) mischaracterized the arrest of Paul Allaire, 41. Police arrested Allaire during Sunday’s protest on charges of suspicion of third-degree domestic assault and third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer stemming from a March 16 incident. He also is charged with resisting arrest.
More than 500 pairs of shoes lined the sidewalk in front of the Military Recruiters Office on Second and Broadway as protesters gathered Sunday to mark the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
“While we didn’t have 1,521 pairs of shoes (the number of U.S. soldiers who have died in the war), we had many hundreds which represented tens of thousands of lives lost,” said Mark Haim, director of Mid-Missouri Peace Works. “I felt like it was a very heartfelt display of grief for the lives lost in this war.”
The protesters gathered at Courthouse Square, then marched through downtown Columbia and stopped at the Military Recruiters Office, where they lined up shoes along the entire front of the building in remembrance of the people who have died because of the war in Iraq.
“The shoe idea had been done by The American Friends Service Committee before,” Haim said. “They had set up displays of combat boots. Rather than combat boots, we wanted to use all types of shoes because there have been all types of people dying. They have all been victims of a war of aggression launched upon them.”
The anti-war protesters were met by war supporters who held banners and American flags while one supporter played patriotic songs on a harmonica.
Police arrested Paul Allaire, 41, at the protest. He was charged with resisting arrest and third-degree assault on a law enforcement officer.
Despite the arrest, the anti-war protesters continued with the planned moment of silence. The protest was otherwise peaceful.
People young and old came to participate in the protest sponsored by the Peace Coalition.
As Tommie Devore, 6, rode his scooter through Courthouse Square, more than 300 people gathered to hear speakers Shakir Hamoodi, an Iraqi who has been living in America for 20 years, and Mark Robertson, a Green Party activist.
At Courthouse Square, Haim announced how pleased he was with the turnout, especially considering the fact that many students are out of town due to MU’s spring break.
Roger Allen Jr., 47, came from Kansas City to attend his first protest.
“The inhumanity of man against man is not in God’s plan,” he said. “I oppose the loss of life for the sake of profit. Spiritually I feel that this is where I’m supposed to be, otherwise I would feel like I’m sitting on my hands and gagging myself. It may or may not make a difference, but I tried.”