Normally, one would think getting honked at is a bad thing. However, for those gathered on the Lake Street “Peace Bridge” every Wednesday afternoon, a honk serves as a sign of solidarity. Witnesses to sexism, war, racism, and other injustices take up picket signs, rainbow peace flags, and posters sporting catchy phrases that promote non-violence.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s students are invited every third Wednesday of the month to join in on this march for social justice. BSM chaperones such as Ms. Änna Overboe and Mr. Michael Hawkins meet at 3:30 p.m. and leave at 5:30 p.m.; however, students can march on the bridge for as long as they please.
Signing up to go to the bridge is easy. Any student who wishes to participate can go to the Students For Human Life board to sign up and get directions.
Everyone at the Peace Bridge has a story, a reason for standing out in the cold on a Wednesday afternoon over the Mississippi with a home-made sign. “I want to get my voice out there. It’s a truly inspirational experience,” said junior Jane Huber.
Some reasons for participating are less heartfelt than others, however. “I thought I was going to get extra credit,” said Shreya Mehta, also a junior.
Mr. Zach Zeckser is one of the coordinators of BSM’s tri-weekly participation in the march. “[This event] has happened every Wednesday for the past fifteen years. BSM has sent kids sporadically for eight years or so. We decided it would be a good idea [to engage in] regular participation,” said Mr. Zeckser.
One would think that the only people who would go to this event are long-haired, backpacking, I-wish-I-had-been-alive-for-Woodstock hippies, but the diverse population of people at the bridge is surprising. Everyone from college students, vets, and Sisters of St. Joseph go to the Bridge, said Mr. Zeckser. People from all ethnic backgrounds and age groups are represented on Wednesday evenings. “I think it’s really cool that a lot of older people are here,” said Huber.
The unique thing about the weekly march is that it is a tranquil event. “I feel comfortable talking about issues without someone there to attack [my views],” said senior Kelsey Hennan.
The Peace Bridge is not a riot, it’s a peaceful protest of the world’s problems and injustices. “It’s an outward sign of promoting peace as opposed to using violence,” said Mr. Zeckser.
While the march may have a special focus on the war in Iraq, this is by no means the only topic which gets attention at the Peace Bridge. “Israeli violence in Gaza and [the fight for] freedom in Tibet are issues that mean a lot to me,” said Huber.
Marching and waving signs is only part of the experience, however. Half the fun lies in finding out why the protesters come out to the bridge in the first place. “I was surprised by how chatty the people were,” said Huber.
If students are interested in a more riot-like rally, the Peace Bridge is the place to go to find out when such an event will take place. Men and women walk up and down the Peace Bridge handing out flyers and inviting marchers to come to their events.
Participating in the march for peace raises awareness, both personally and for the community, and betters our society by promoting nonviolence. “It’s about diversity,” said Mehta. “We’re all one and the Peace Bridge is the place to show that.”a