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Northwest Chicagoans urge Congress to stay out of Iran

Submitted on Thu, 12/20/2007 – 17:13.

About 20 residents from Chicago’s North Side protested at the office of U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) last week, urging the congressman to denounce any threat of war with Iran. The event was organized by members of, a non-profit political advocacy organization.

The group delivered a petition with nearly 600 signatures of Chicagoans opposed to U.S. engagement in Iran and asked Emanuel and other members of Congress to support H.R. 3119 and H.R. 64, resolutions that would discourage hostile action toward another Middle Eastern country.

“Iran discontinued its weapons programs in 2003,” said Richard Stowell, a member who helped organize the local event. “Intelligence reports are telling the administration they don’t have weapons. It kind of takes the wind out of Bush’s sails for a military strike.”

In Emanuel’s small waiting room Dec. 13, concerned residents spoke out against possible war in Iran and the ongoing war in Iraq. The group also criticized the Democratic party for what they called its lack of initiative.

Paul Blakely came to Emanuel’s office out of outrage toward the Bush administration. In 1999, he moved to Chicago after living in Canada for 23 years.

“I lost a lot of innocence about how the U.S. is viewed internationally while I lived in Canada,” Blakely said.

Blakely and others at the event feel Pres. Bush is ignoring the intelligence agencies research in favor of his own ideological beliefs, the same strategy that resulted in the Iraq “fiasco.”

“Congress [must] work to get this country back on the right course and start to rebuild international relations and cooperation,” Blakely said.

Josephine Hyde made the trip to Emanuel’s office for more than political reasons. A clinical psychologist specializing in trauma treatment, Hyde said she has seen the devastating effects of war while treating patients.

“I am very concerned about the long-term public health impact of war. We are currently unequipped to handle traumatized veterans,” Hyde said. “It is war that is abnormal. It should only be a last resort.”

Emanuel’s District Director John Borovicka listened to the group for more than 30 minutes before taking the petition.

“We take all comments from constituents very seriously,” Borovicka said, adding that the group’s concerns would be shared with Emanuel.

Similar meetings took place across the country this month, with almost 300 member groups delivering more than 167,000 signatures. In Chicago, volunteers also visited the local office of U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago).

Historically, political petitions have been effective, but may have lost significance over the years said Jeff Manza, a Northwestern University sociology professor

“These petitions used to more influential, but now they have become such a widely used tool I’m not sure members and their staffs take them too seriously until the numbers get really big.”

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