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Huge turnout for London protest

October 4, 2002 | Page 2

THE ANTIWAR movement in the U.S. got a boost last weekend from across the Atlantic. As many as 400,000 people turned out in London for a massive protest against George W. Bush and Tony Blair's drive for a war on Iraq.

Even establishment newspapers had to admit that the demonstration, called by the Stop the War Coalition, was enormous. The march to the rally in Hyde Park took just under five hours to pass a given point. "We hoped for and were confident that we could get 100,000," Mike Marqusee, a spokesperson for the coalition, told Socialist Worker. "We got 400,000, and that's a genuine estimate."

"The social diversity of it was extraordinary, and that's what is so important--trade unionists marching shoulder to shoulder with Muslims, with elderly pensioners, with school kids who are antiglobalization protesters, with middle-class people who are just upset and alarmed for perfectly good reasons, with Black kids from the inner city."

In the U.S., last weekend saw a new round of protests. Peace activists called a protest in Washington, D.C., for September 29 after the Mobilization for Global Justice--the coalition that organized weekend protests against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank--refused to take an explicitly antiwar stance.

Some 4,000 people turned out, mainly from D.C. and neighboring Maryland--with protesters ranging from longtime activists to college students just starting their own antiwar groups on campuses.

"This war is a continuance of the Gulf War," said Jean Blanxner, an activist since the Vietnam War. "American boys shouldn't go war thinking they're doing something noble when it's for oil profits."

In San Francisco, more than 4,000 joined a spirited demonstration to oppose a war in Iraq and to pledge support for the struggle of Palestinians. Protesters marched from Dolores Park to the Civic Center and the United Nations building, chanting "No justice, no peace! U.S. out of the Middle East!" "This talk of war is about oil and world domination," said Blanche Bebb, a retired union activist. "Bush thinks he's Napoleon Bonaparte."

At the same time, activists continued to confront the Bush gang last week wherever they showed their ugly faces. When Denver activists began planning a protest against Bush's appearance at a Republican fundraiser, they hoped that 100 people would show up. Instead, a crowd of 3,000 jammed the 16th Street Mall downtown last week, chanting loudly while Bush's pals ate their $1,000-a-plate lunch.

Groups of activists have begun taking their antiwar message to members of Congress who will be voting on a resolution for war in the upcoming weeks. In Minneapolis, two dozen activists organized by the Twin Cities Campaign to Lift the Sanctions descended on the local offices of senators and representatives.

In Madison, some 250 people gathered at the state capitol building to tell Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) that he should vote no on bombing Iraq.

Amanda Maystead, Stephen West and C.J. Carter contributed to this report.

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