Grand Rapids Court Interpreter Targeted and Threatened By Police For Involvement In Anti-war Demonstrations

In the months preceding and during Bush’s war in Iraq last year the global and national protests included generally conservative and birthplace of Amway West Michigan. The cities of Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland, Michigan had regular weakly protests typically ranging in size from 30 to two-hundred. Grand Rapids, the largest of the three with about 200,000 in population were spotlighted in the Muskegon Chronicle last week in an article titled "Police Infiltrate Peace Rallies". The article written by Ted Roelofs exposes how the Grand Rapids police department "sent undercover police officers to anti-war meetings and rallies. Collecting intelligence about the aims of activists."

Throughout the protests demonstrators have cited the lack of an evident link between 9/11 and Iraq, the silence and tacit approval of the U.S. when Saddam Hussein used poison gas in the Iran /Iraq war and against the Kurds in 1988. Many demonstrators believing Bush’s primary motives to be a move toward Mid East hegemony and control of the oil fields.

Demonstrator Abby Puls, 24, a Spanish interpreter at the Kent County Courthouse was singled out by undercover police officers and told she could be fired for "choosing sides", she was also threatened with arrest for "hindering and opposing" police if she identified any of them. Grand Rapids police chief Harry Dolan confirmed puls’s statement saying he feared for his officers’ safety at peace demonstrations. Grand Rapids police conduct at anti-war rallies first surfaced in February in Salon, an online magazine according to Roelof’s article.

Grand Rapids City Commissioner Rick Tormala said of police conduct "To monitor citizens and their activities when they are dissenting against the government is wrong. People have a right to assemble and say what they want."

From the Vietnam War era to the present there has never been any instance of violence perpetrated by protestors in West Michigan. Reiterating this longtime Grand Rapids area activist Jeff Smith said "We have no history of doing anything that could be deemed violent or a threat to anybody."

Most of the anti-war demonstrators know of the history and the motives of past interventions. From Iran-oil [’53], Guatemala – United fruit [’54], Indonesia-oil [’65], Chile-ITT, Copper [’73], and the past coup shifts from democracies to dictatorships. While Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was certainly no democracy many believe Bush’s motive was the oil and a new U.S. hegemony in the Middle East. U.S. owned businesses such as Halliburten and Bechtel are in Iraq in a pre-planned rebuilding effort will become some of the major profiteers from a questionable war. While ignoring the author’s of the 9/11 attack, lack of a presence in Iraq, Bush had reoriented the focus to Iraq which had no involvement in the terrorist attack. What then was his motivation? Bush’s Iraq war is clearly evolving into his Vietnam as we continue to send more troops and the body bags continue to return to the U.S. in what has become the incorrect motivation of a "profits before people" foreign policy.