Though many demonstrators were members of WILPF, students, congregants and other concerned citizens joined the protest.
“Especially for our young males, especially for our ROTC units on campus, this is something that can impact all of us economically, physically, emotionally,” junior Whitney Fox said. “I’m not entirely sure that the U.S. should be ready to engage in more than a 30-year war.”
Thom Belote, minister at the Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist, said 10 members of his congregation came to support the protest.
“I’m of the belief that war needs to be a last resort,” Belote said. “It needs to be done in a way that is as just as possible and clearly this conflict, and what this conflict might lead to, in no way meets any sort of the criteria for just and necessary.”
The protest was held in response to President Trump’s decision to assassinate General Suleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force. The Pentagon said in a statement obtained by The New York Times that Suleimani was planning attacks on Americans in the region, prompting the U.S. airstrike last week.
Iran launched a retaliatory missile attack on military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops on Wednesday, the Times reported. There appears to be no casualties from the attack and Iran has signaled that they do not seek an escalation of the conflict.
In an address to the nation, President Trump announced new sanctions against Iran, but did not signal any desire to engage in further military action.
“The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” Trump said.
Demonstrators said they were glad to see what appears to be de-escalation from the president, but are wary of being too hopeful.
“I was happy to hear that there appears to be a de-escalation, but I think we need to make note of what we really want,” Insko said. “What we want is we want peace in the Middle East.”