DeKALB — DeKalb and Sycamore residents attended a rally 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the corner of Lincoln Highway and First Street to stand against President Donald Trump’s actions involving Iran, particularly when the administration said it would send thousands of troops to bolster security in the region.
The rally was part of a national event organized locally by DeKalb and Sycamore community members. A few of the attendees said they heard about the event through MoveOn, an organization that promotes an anti-war message on Iran-U.S. affairs.
Meryle Domina, of DeKalb, said she sent out an email with information about the event in hopes of getting the word out. About 30 residents were in attendance to support the anti-war message.
The protest came after the U.S. government blamed an Iranian-backed militia for a rocket attack which killed an American contractor in Iraq in December. The U.S. retaliated by bombing bases associated with the militia in Iraq and Syria. In response to the bombing, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad was attacked Dec. 31 by crowds of protesters.
Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general considered by the U.S. to be a terrorist, was killed Jan. 3 following a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad. The Iranian government vowed revenge for his death.
“The people won’t stand for it,” Dani Brzozowski, who is running as a Democrat for Congress in 2020, said. “We have no reason to believe this escalation was necessary.”
Brzozowski was in attendance to support #NoWarWithIran, and said it does not take a deep understanding of foreign policy to know what is going on. She said the U.S. has put itself in a position where it has to respond to Iran’s actions.
Brzozowski said she is an activist and an organizer. She said she believes opportunities like the protest are important ways for members of the community to express their views.
Across the street, about four people gathered to represent the pro-war side of the conversation.
“We need to defend our United States of America first, and that is the number one priority of our president and our military,” Jeff Heine, Sycamore resident, said.
Justin Mishler, president of the NIU Veterans Association, said he saw a Facebook post about the event and thought people might not show up, but he drove from Belvidere to see if anyone had gathered. Once he arrived, he said he went into Walgreens, 100 W. Lincoln Highway, and made a sign on the spot.
“I’ve been pro-fighting Iran for 40 years,” Mishler said. “Iran has deserved intervention for 40 years.”
The rally remained peaceful, with attendees on both sides of the issue standing in solidarity with members of their respective factions.
Brzozowski said it’s a complex issue but that thoughtful conversations on such issues are important for everyone.
“I don’t think people should be deterred from participating in demonstrations like this or from the conversation because of the complexity of the dialogue,” she said.