A banner hanging over Mass. Ave. in front of City Hall reads, "God bless and protect our troops. Bring them back safely." Dozens of yellow ribbons adorn the trees and bushes outside the council building.
And at its Monday night meeting, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution showing its support for U.S. troops fighting in the Persian Gulf and stating that it "hopes for rapid Allied success in fulfilling the United Nations' mandate with a minimum of civilian, American and Allied casualties."
Less than a month after it approved an order urging the state and federal governments to facilitate complete withdrawal from the Gulf, the council has turned around and thrown its weight behind U.S. policy and the troops carrying it out.
Councillors Sheila T. Russell, Walter J. Sullivan and William H. Walsh proposed the resolution, which in its unamended form drew heavy criticism from citizens and other councillors.
One passage in the original order stated that "the council respectfully urges, for the time being, that those who have opposed such military action, join us in voluntarily ceasing to publicly demonstrate their opposition."
Mayor Alice K. Wolf said that, if passed, the order could be perceived as an attempt to curtail the First Amendment rights of Cambridge citizens. "I feel that [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein would have an immense victory if he were able to muffle the free speech of the people in our country," Wolf said.
But Walsh argued that demonstrations against the war at home are damaging to troop morale on the front line. "To speak for peace, everyone supports it. To pray for peace, everyone supports it," Walsh said. "But there's something about demonstrating when they're out there fighting that seems like we don't support them."
Councillor Francis H. Duehay '55 proposed an amended order without the passages addressing anti-war demonstrations. "One of the reasons we are fighting is for the right of people to say what they like in this country and not to be frightened to do it," Duehay said.
The amended resolution passed unanimously.
In other business, the council extended its congratulations to Harvard for granting tenure to prominent Afro-American studies professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Duke University. Gates will come to Harvard next fall to chair the Afro-Am department.
Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 called the appointment "an respect both to the University and that department.