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Protesters at S.L. rally decry U.N. war on drugs

SHARE Protesters at S.L. rally decry U.N. war on drugs

Tie-dye crowd opposes plans to step up fightIn a scene reminiscent of the 1960s, a large crowd of tie-dye-clad and bearded protesters held an anti-war rally and burned the flag in Salt Lake City's Liberty Park Sunday afternoon.

But they were protesting the "war on drugs," not Vietnam, and they torched the U.N. flag, not the Stars and Stripes.More than 50 people gathered at the State Capitol to voice their objections to a proposed escalation of U.N. efforts to combat the international trade in illegal drugs.

Chanting, "No more drug war," the crowd then marched down State Street and east to Liberty Park, where they set fire to the U.N. flag.

Organizers said the Salt Lake rally and dozens of others throughout the nation are targeting a worldwide conference on drug trafficking being held this week at U.N. headquarters in New York City.

The United Nations is dragging the American people into another unwinnable war, said Ken Larsen, Independent candidate for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District.

"We've already thrown away $50 billion in this war with no reduction in the the supply of drugs into this nation," Larsen said.

The war simply drives up the cost of drugs, which drives up the crime rate in this country, he said. Declaring an end to the war "would make our streets and homes safe again," he added.

Also, Larsen said the effort is destroying the economies and victimizing the citizens of foreign countries. "America's drug war is a war on the rest of the world," Larsen said.

Ben Valdez, representing a group called Hemp Power Utah, said, " `War on drugs' is a misnomer. It's a war on the people of Utah, the United States and the world."

Valdez said more than 100 different organizations are planning to stage similar protests in more than 70 cities throughout the country this week. The group participating in the Salt Lake rally said it will take its protest to Ogden next weekend.