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Weekly Anti-War Demonstration : If It's Friday, It Must Be Protest Time

October 18, 1987|SHELDON ITO | Times Staff Writer

Every Friday at noon, a diverse group of Westsiders gathers at National and Sepulveda boulevards to perform a simple ritual against a complex evil.

For the past year, about eight to 12 people, with jobs that range from attorney to weightlifting instructor, have given up their lunch hour to protest the arms race with signs that bear slogans such as "Bread Not Bombs" and "Honk for No Nuclear Weapons."

Last Friday, drivers did not shy away from showing their support, filling the air with staccato bursts from their horns.

"We're essentially here to raise consciousness," said Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, whose Temple Shir Shalom sponsors the group. "And we think we've been pretty successful."

Pope Barton, 76, a retired airplane mechanic, agreed. "A lot of times I think (the signs) get your attention and make you think."

When asked what brings him out to the corner Friday after Friday, the Santa Monica resident replied, "Patriotism, by golly. I think we've had plenty of this stupid war."

Robert Ring, 32, a Beverly Hills attorney, said he considers the vigil a small and practical weapon against nuclear war.

"If I can take 20 or 30 minutes and make a personal statement, it's better than doing nothing," he said.

Asked what he thinks he's accomplishing, Ring answered, "People honk their horns--that's what's accomplished."

Madeleine Turner, 39, a weightlifting instructor from Pacific Palisades, said last Friday was her first with the group, which she had read about in a Jewish newspaper.

"I was glad people were doing something to bring the nuclear arms race to an end," she said. "I think it's something organized religion should take a stand on, and it's something you don't see very often. Especially in my religion."

Comess-Daniels said Jewish law requires certain actions from soldiers in war, such as not destroying fruit-bearing trees so people do not starve, allowing people to escape besieged cities and attempting reconciliation before attacking.

"Nuclear weapons negate all of these laws," he said. "Someone can't claim to be an upholder of Jewish law and support nuclear weapons at the same time."

Comess-Daniels said he was once part of a similar vigil at the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards and was inspired to start this one after attending an anti-nuclear seminar at his temple.

He said the vigil became a year old a few weeks ago. However, unlike most anniversaries, this was not a happy one, he said.

"I wish we didn't have to be out there on the corner," he said. "But there's still a great deal of work that has to be done to eliminate this kind of massive threat."

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