If it’s a Saturday morning, that means a handful of peace activists are readying to spend two hours at the corner of Station and South Country roads in Bellport Village, pushing “the peaceful road” to anyone who will listen.
They’ve been picketing there every Saturday since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
So who are they?
They hail from a patchwork of peace organizations from across Suffolk County, such as the South Country Peace Group, Veterans for Peace, the PeaceSmiths, and the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives.
Each week’s protest in Bellport Village — or other places like Sayville and Shirley — may bring different people to the corner.
“There are a lot of groups,” said protester Ralph DeMarco, who took the trip to Bellport Village from Riverhead last Saturday.
No matter who shows up, or how many people, the message is the same.
“We’re here to tell people about preventing war and the continuation of war; to take the peaceful road,” DeMarco said. “Some people aren’t too friendly. Some people give us the finger.”
“Half a peace sign,” a fellow picketer, Barbara Gatti of Bayport, interjected.
DeMarco said most people are friendly toward them, though things would get heated at times in 2003 and 2004, when the Iraq War was getting underway and many in the country were polarized in their opinions of it.
Today, after 14 years of American troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan, Gatti said passersby don’t look at the peace protestors with the scorn they used to.
“People are coming around to our way of thinking,” she said. “At least that’s what we like to think.”
Photo: Ralph DeMarco, Mary Ellen Pantaleo and Barbara Gatti in Bellport last Saturday. (Credit: Michael White)