Anti-escalation protest

Members of the Arkansas Nonviolence Alliance stood alongside College Avenue in protest against U.S. involvement in the warfare sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Twelve Northwest Arkansas community members gathered in front of the Washington County Courthouse on Saturday to protest the armed conflict launched by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and express fear that Western involvement could spark a third world war.

Members of the Arkansas Nonviolence Alliance led the protest. Attendees held colorful signs featuring phrases including “No War with Russia” and “Nobody wins nuclear war,” and played songs about world peace while cars drove by. Many people passing in cars honked their horns to show support for the protesters.

The group’s founder, Abel Tomlinson, encouraged the crowd to stand together against escalation of the war in Ukraine and rising tensions that could result in another world war. Everyone should be scared about the possibility of such a war, and Tomlinson organized the rally to call for a stop to American and other Western involvement in the ongoing conflict, he said.

“The U.S. is using economic warfare against Russia, trying to shut down the Russian economy with massive sanctions that will end up harming the civilians,” Tomlinson said. “We are sending massive amounts of arms to Ukraine, which is escalating the situation.”

Carol Hammon, an attendee from Fayetteville, said joining the rally was important to her because she can not imagine facing another war in which the U.S. is an active participant. Hammon thinks people should come together to prevent a larger conflict and choose peace, she said.

“I'm just sick of watching what is going on in the world today,” Hammon said. “Especially with what is going on in Ukraine, I just can't stand the thought of getting involved in war again, so I just had to come out here to remind people that we need peace and that war is not the answer.”

Laura Villegas, an attendee from Springdale, does not believe in war and thinks the U.S. should put its efforts into causes such as humanitarian relief, she said. Villegas also thinks the U.S. should destroy its nuclear arsenal and put the nation’s defense budget toward more peaceful efforts.

“I do not believe in war — I think we should disarm, I think we should have no nuclear arsenal,” Villegas said. “I think we should reduce our defense budget and put the money towards more things like social relief.”

Tomlinson thinks this might be the most dangerous time in history, and a nuclear world war would be unlike anything ever seen before, he said.

“People need to understand that nobody wins a world war,” Tomlinson said. “We will all potentially perish, a nuclear winter would block out the sun for 10 years, and all the animals and crops will die and we would not be able to live.”

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