SAY NO TO BUSH'S WAR
By Elizabeth Schulte | October 11, 2002 | Page 2
THE SAN Francisco Chronicle called it "a rising rumble." Last weekend, opponents of George W. Bush's war drive against Iraq hit the streets in cities across the country in the biggest numbers yet.
Up to 100,000 people took part in rallies, demonstrations and marches from one end of the country to the other--many in response to a national call for action by the antiwar group Not In Our Name. In almost every case, organizers reported being surprised by turnouts that were much larger than expected.
In New York City, 25,000 people rallied in Central Park in the largest single antiwar protest in the U.S. so far. High school students, Muslims, union members and activists came out--some from as far away as Ohio.
In San Francisco, about 10,000 people came out for a protest in Union Square. Jack Heyman, the business agent of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 spoke out against the Bush war drive and called for antiwar activists to show their solidarity with locked-out longshore workers.
In Los Angeles, about 7,000 people gathered to hear speakers and musical groups--among them, actor and anti-death penalty activist Mike Farrell and Vietnam War veteran and peace activist Ron Kovic.
In Seattle, organizers were surprised when 10,000 people came out to oppose war on October 6. Rally speakers included Caroline Thompson, the mother of political prisoner James Ujaama, who has been unable to see her son because authorities have kept his location secret since his arrest in July as a "material witness" in the September 11 investigation. "Let it not be said that the people of the U.S. did nothing!" Thompson told the crowd.
In Chicago, 2,000 people turned out for the Not In Our Name protest, chanting: "Hell no, we won't go, we won't kill for Amoco!" Marge Schilf was one of the many people who found out about the protest on the Internet or by word of mouth. "Iraq needs to be bombed with supplies, health care and food," she said.
The march came after a week of antiwar actions in Chicago. On October 1, several hundred people gathered for an emergency protest called by the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism. The next day, a rally organized by Chicagoans Against War on Iraq, featuring Rev. Jesse Jackson, brought out 700 people.
In Portland, a protest organized by a coalition of peace groups turned out as many as 12,000 people. Antiwar protesters marched past locked-out dockworkers, who cheered on the demonstrations. Eleven-year-old Josh Olmsted got thunderous applause when he said, "It will be a great day when schools are funded enough, and the Air Force has to have a bake sale."
In San Diego, 750 antiwar demonstrators converged downtown to demand "No blood for oil" and "Drop Bush, not bombs." And in Austin, Texas--the heart of Bush country--about 2,000 people turned out from across the state to protest a war on Iraq.
But Iraq wasn't the only issue on people's minds. The event was held to mark the beginning of the war on Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. "We are here not only for the people of Iraq, but for the people of the whole world," said Carole Metellus of the American Friends Service Committee.
The night before, at the University of Texas-Austin, 150 people packed an overfilled room for a teach-in, featuring Anthony Arnove, an ISO member and editor of the book Iraq Under Siege; and Rahul Mahajan, author of The New Crusade.
Antiwar protesters came out to confront the Warmonger-in-Chief at a planned fundraising stop for gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney in Boston October 4. More than 1,000 people from across the state came to send Bush a message: "No to your racist war."
"I'm furious at the moderates and Democrats in our government," a protester said. "They should be stopping Bush's war drive!" The Chicken-in-Chief changed his plans at the last minute, canceling his appearance to avoid protesters.
In Italy, one of Washington's main European allies in its planned war on Iraq, more than 1.5 million people took to the streets in dozens of cities Saturday to say no to the war drive. Protesters held signs showing Bush's head on the body of a hawk. Other signs showed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and British leader Tony Blair as Bush's pets. "On this day, the Italian people have spoken," said a journalist for the network La 7 in Milan, "and they say they are against support for the American position."
Balmore Alvarenga, Justin Akers, Kirstin Roberts, Pham Binh, Evan Kornfeld, Ben Larrivee, Rocio Guerra, Jon Bougie, Michael Hardin and Paul Dean contributed to this report.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Send us your reports about antiwar organizing and events--so that activists around the country can learn from each other about how best to build our fight. E-mail us at [email protected]