To the editor:
Although I am not a member of the SEMO Coalition for Peace and Justice, I was a volunteer helping with the Sue Niederer event last Thursday. Before the event began, I had to ask a protester who appeared drunk to leave when he became angry and abusive upon trying to enter. When Ms. Niederer made the kind decision to allow three protesters to enter the event, I decided to sit by the protesters in the hopes that my presence would help keep the peace. Unfortunately, I was repulsed as these grown men sat giggling and mocking Sue during some of her most emotional testimony about the death of her son.
The good news is that there are few in the community who would not have been moved by the words of Ms. Niederer, whether or not they agreed with her about the culpability of the government in his death. It seems that people are increasingly compelled to question why we are in Iraq and what our goals there are. Notably, Colin Powell recently admitted that there was no evidence that Iraq was related to the tragic events of 9-11 and that, despite our troop presence there, the country may well slide into civil war.
Above all, I would like to encourage those in the community, even those who may have initially supported the invasion of Iraq, not to fear speaking out about current policies. Please do not be intimidated by those who wish to silence the free speech of others.
NATALIE HAMPTON, Dexter, Mo.