Rush-hour peace protesters stay the course
Standing for a cause: members of the Guilderland Neighbors for Peace hold up signs protesting the war in Iraq and calling for peace on the corner of routes 20 and 155 in Guilderland on Monday evening. The group holds a peace vigil every week at the same spot during rush hour between 5 and 6 p.m. Members say they will keep it up until the war ends. Among the protesters are the groupâ€™s two founding members, Chris Lapinski and Patti Schardt.
GUILDERLAND â€” Since July, the Guilderland Neighbors for Peace have been making their presence known along busy Western Avenue every Monday night during rush hour.
Between 5 and 6 p.m., members of the group stand on the corner of routes 20 and 155, holding up signs to protest the war in Iraq. As cars whiz past Guilderlandâ€™s major four-corner intersection, many drivers honk their horns, as they watch the peace vigil in any weather â€” sunshine, wind, or rain, and, soon enough, even snow.
How long will they stand on the corner and protest?
Until the war ends, the group says.
Guilderland Neighbors for Peace was founded by Patti Schardt, Chris Lapinski, and Liz Allen, three woman who think America has no business in Iraq.
â€œIt started with just the three of us standing here,â€ said Schardt during Mondayâ€™s vigil. â€œNow our mailing list has grown to 43â€¦We talked about how upset we were about the war, and then we started doing this.â€
The women say they were inspired by other local peace groups like the Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, Veterans for Peace, and Women Against War.
â€œWe were driving around in a car one day and talking about the state of the worldâ€¦and we realized we had no voice in Guilderland,â€ Lapinski told The Enterprise. â€œThere are some things going on in Albany, but nothing out here.â€
Allen was unable to attend last Monday nightâ€™s vigil due to family obligations.
The group has growth by attracting other peace protesters who drive by the vigil each week.
â€œMy husband passed by and saw them one day and we started coming here every week,â€ said Barbara Wickham about herself and her husband, Steve. Previously, Wickham said, they participated in Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace functions.
Steve Wickham said the group has grown considerably in the past month.
John Baideme said heâ€™s a commuter and that he â€œhopped off the busâ€ once he saw the vigil. Baideme is now active with the group, too.
â€œWeâ€™ve had a very positive response,â€ said Lapinski.
â€” Jarrett Carroll