Tuesday, February 26, 2002

peace troop

Work For Peace Troop Keeps Military at Bay

About 20 Hamilton activists gathered at Hamilton's Bayfront Park on Tuesday evening to greet an expected 50-60 armed reservists from the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.
The RHLI, or "the Rileys" failed to attend the festive gathering, perhaps daunted by the joyful nonviolent ambience created by the group as they danced to Raffi's version of "down by the bay."
No soldiers carrying C 7 or C 9 machine guns were seen in the park, unlike previous weeks when the RHLI have invaded Bayfront Park to carry out their military "tactical training."
The activists waited for the reservists at the park entrance with recorded music interspersed with clips of speeches from Martin Luther King Jr, John Dear S.J. and Brian Willson.
The energetic group gladly accepted supportive honks from passing motorists.
A banner invited the reservists and others to "Work For Peace" in the interest of social and global solidarity and equality.
When the combat-ready reservists didn't show, the peaceful troop took their show on the road and headed down on foot to the nearby armoury.
After a brief vigil outside the massive brick armoury the group decided to end their stay with a game of ring-around the rosy, before heading off to celebrate the regained violence-free status of Bayfront Park.
A week prior, two civilians who were at the park to video-tape the military exercise were asked for identification and questioned by a uniformed man who identified himself as a "sergeant of the RHLI" and who then proceeded to suggest that the civilians may pose a threat to the safety of others, and indeed, could very well be terrorists.
Perhaps realizing too late that he had committed a gaffe by speaking directly into the lens of a filming video camera, the sergeant beat a hasty retreat to stand and glare at the civilians (who quickly realized they had pretty damning footage and decided to leave the park to make copies before Sarge got any bright ideas)
While a February 11 RHLI media release noted that they plan on using the park "most Tuesday evenings" until May, the activists are wondering if their high jinks have put an end to the RHLI's plans.
The group who called the protest, Hamilton Action for Social Change (HASC), is looking at keeping a rapidly deployed dance team (RDDT) ready to respond to any future armed invasion of the parks in Hamilton, just in case.
As one person noted "They've got the gun, but we've got the fun."
Contact the HASC RDDT if you notice large groups of armed people creeping through a park in your neighborhood.

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