Sep 28, 2005 at 12:00 am

More than 250 people from the metro area boarded buses last week to make the trek to D.C. for the big protest held Saturday. News Hits talked to a few of them, and heard the experience was electrifying.

Particularly encouraging, we were told, is the number of “new faces” that climbed aboard.

“For me, who has been doing this work for a few years, I knew only about four people in the bus I was on,” says organizer Prasad Venugopal, 39.

All those unfamiliar faces, says Venugopal, who teaches physics at the University of Detroit Mercy, means that the movement is growing.

An estimated 100,000 people or more showed up for the protest in the capital.

Sigrid Dale, 76, was likewise encouraged. She says roughly one-third of the people on the two buses she helped organize were new to the movement.

“I think this may be the beginning of a sea change,” says the Warren resident. “I think there is an awakening among people that we can’t let this go on.”

Dale’s husband, Ron, who’s 71, stayed in Washington to participate in a protest Monday at the Pentagon. He was among about 35 people arrested at that event. Following his release he headed off for another protest at the White House. He, along with several other Detroit-area activists, was arrested again, making it a rare twofer day at the jailhouse.

Among those appearing at the event Saturday was Cindy Sheehan; the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, Sheehan has been credited with helping inspire the surge in opposition to the war by camping outside the president’s Texas ranch during his extended summer vacation.

“We need a people’s movement to end this war!” Sheehan reportedly yelled to the crowd. “We have to reclaim our humanity.”

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]