After people from all over Washington met in Olympia March 1 to tell state lawmakers to consider resolutions to impeach President Bush and block the U.S. troop increase, neighbors, strangers, activists and those who want to take a step for peace in Lake Forest Park have an opportunity to let their feet do the talking.
The 655,000 Steps for Peace event arrives in Lake Forest Park today, Friday, March 16, at 5 p.m. on the corner of Ballinger Way and Bothell Way. Organized by the group, Peace Action of Washington, the nine mile stretch between Lake Forest Park and Kirkland occurs on day two of a five day walk that began yesterday in downtown Seattle and will end on Monday at 3:30 p.m. with a final march to the Federal Building in Seattle.
“I’ve heard of people who will be meeting up along the route,” Karen Tarr, a member of Lake Forest Park for Peace said. “There’s a family who lives in Juanita who will join from their home; a man driving up from Olympia; and another man coming by bus in Kirkland.”
People of all ages are expected to take part in the walk, with vigils happening along the way and Lake Forest Park for Peace members carrying white balloons.
“I know there are a least five or maybe six people who will try to make it at least nine miles — with Ibuprofen in hand,” Tarr said.
Representative Maralyn Chase, D-32nd District, who testified at the state Senate committee hearing, said she is proud of the testimonies and action coming from Legislative District 32.
“We have a lot of people doing their fair share and I would be (walking for peace) too if I wasn’t in a legislative session,” Chase said.
President of Peace Action of Washington, Fred Miller, began thinking of ways at the beginning of the year to mark the fourth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq on Monday. He decided that each one of the 655,000 steps taken during the walk is meant to represent the death of an Iraqi. The estimate was first published by a British medical journal called the Lancet in October 2006.
Miller expects hundreds of people to participate throughout the relay event.
“The intention is to have a 240-mile conversation with a lot of people,” Miller said.
Shoreline resident, Rick McClurg, is also walking today after joining the event at Shoreline Community College.
“This whole thing is kind of a phenomenon,” McClurg said. “I don’t know if something like this has ever been done before. It’s an experiment in creating a form of activism that is accessible to everyone.”
Senator Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park, served as committee chairwoman for the hearing in Olympia earlier this month and feels it is important to give people the opportunity to speak.
“People have an absolute right to demonstrate,” Fairly said. “There are a lot of people who feel very strongly about this topic and should have the chance to speak.”
Today’s portion of the 655,000 Walk for Peace event is expected to arrive in Kirkland at 10 p.m. and continue into downtown Redmond early Saturday morning. Information about the route can be found at www.655000stepsforpeace.blogspot.com.