A women’s group marked the pending 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by holding its 520th weekly vigil in front of the State Capitol on Wednesday.
Fourteen women and one man dressed in black, the color of mourning, held placards and handed out flyers at the southern gate of the Capitol supporting the peace movement.
Women in Black, an informal group of local protesters opposing the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, claims to have held the hourlong weekly protest since the Twin Towers fell in New York 10 years ago on Sunday. The original Women in Black group started in Jerusalem in 1988 as a peace movement between Palestinian and Israeli women and gained increased recognition in the U.S. following the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the protesters.
Pam Murfin, a spokeswoman for the group, said the anniversary provided a public forum to advocate an end to U.S. military operations in the Middle East.
“Sept. 11 was a terrible event, with a terrible reaction. Rather than negotiating and trying to lessen the violence, our government leapt in and escalated it. It has caused a lot of death and maiming,” Murfin said. “War is not the answer, and [students] can be helpful if they get involved in some way, even if it’s just talking to people about how to solve conflict nonviolently.”
Moneta Prince, an Austin resident who joined the group following the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, said community attitudes to the wars have changed in the eight years she has supported the cause.
“People are a little more wise to what the [wars] are about. They’re withdrawing their support, and I think most people would like to pull out,” Prince said.
English senior Evelyn Gibson said she expected the mood to be sombre on Sunday but agrees that support for the wars among the student body has seen a steady decline.
“We really cared in 2008 with the election of Obama, but nothing has changed. Politics is the same,” Gibson said. “I don’t think a lot of us want to be there anymore. We wasted all this money, and we haven’t really got anywhere, especially in Afghanistan. We killed Osama Bin Laden, but there’s still no end in sight.”