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News and reports

June 11, 2004 | Page 11

We demand the right to marry
Defend civil liberties

No to the occupation of Iraq and Palestine

ANTIWAR DEMONSTRATIONS took place in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., on June 5 as part of a day of action against the occupations of Iraq and Palestine called by International ANSWER.

In San Francisco, 5,000 people marched through downtown chanting, "Occupation is a crime, from Iraq to Palestine." Marchers decried the recent massacres and home demolitions by Israeli troops in Rafah and called for U.S. troops stationed in Iraq to be brought home.

Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace linked the occupations of Iraq and Palestine in a speech from the stage. "Imagine being a mother in Rafah or Falluja," she said. "Last year I was one of the 10 million people who protested the war. Every actual thing that we said was going to happen has happened, only worse."

Walter Johnson of the San Francisco Labor Council spoke to the crowd, telling them that he has urged the AFL-CIO to hold a national meeting of labor groups to "take the lead to get the troops out of Iraq. That's what made a difference in Vietnam."

In Los Angeles, about 3,000 people--antiwar activists, members of U.S. Labor Against War, Military Families Speak Out and numerous other groups--rallied downtown. Actor and activist Danny Glover got cheers from the crowd when he pointed out that our message is meant not only for George Bush but also for Democrat John Kerry. "There will be no justice in Iraq," Glover told the crowd, "until there's respect for the right of Iraqis themselves to determine their own future."

In Washington, D.C., about 1,500 people rallied in front of the White House before marching to Donald Rumsfeld's house to call for his resignation. One of the most powerful speakers was Michael Berg, father of Nick Berg, whose recent death In Iraq has been cynically used by the White House to deflect attention from the prison torture scandal. "As long as U.S. troops are there, people will continue to die," said Berg.

New York City

The "Bring Them Home Now" campaign came to the canyons of Lower Manhattan as veterans and members of military families marched in the annual Memorial Day Commemoration for Peace. This year's commemoration was noticeably larger than last year, well over 100, as the toll taken by the war on Iraq and opposition to it grow together. Relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq were also speaking and marching.

The event opened with a rally at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Then, to the grim sound of the military funeral slow-cadence beat out by drummer and Vietnam vet Ben Chitty, people lined up behind a huge Veterans for Peace banner and marched across the tip of lower Manhattan to the Hudson River.

A group of sailors on leave stopped and listened as people commemorated the lost lives of their loved ones. Asked what he thought of the war, one sailor told Socialist Worker, after looking to make sure no officer was around, "You're doing the right thing. Lots of us feel the same way. More than you think."

Olympia, Wash.

About 120 people held a rally May 30 to protest the occupations of Iraq and Palestine. Craig Corrie, father of Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in March 2003, urged local residents to continue protesting the occupations. "If we can bring peace to earth, then those who want war will have to go to hell," said Corrie.

Tom Barton, Nihar Bhatt, Bruce Cooley, Brian Huseby and Michael Smith contributed to this report.

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We demand the right to marry
By Peter LoRe and Tamar Sczmuilowicz

NEW YORK--"Gay marriage is a right, fight fight fight!" and "Gay, straight, Black, white, marriage is a civil right!" were heard above the cheers of the crowd at the Queens' Pride Parade, the most diverse pride parade in New York City. Received with applause and fists in the air, the gay marriage contingent was by far the most political.

"If no one holds an alternative view on gay marriage, they'll hold an old view," said Trish, a bystander decided to join the contingent. "There was a time when Blacks and whites couldn't marry, and now that's seen as ridiculous," said Trish. "We need time and effort for people to change the [antigay marriage] opinion."

Marchers came to represent everything from radio stations to political groups. The crowd was especially responsive to groups supporting gay marriage as well as groups such as the American Vets for Equal Rights, which provides support for gays and lesbians kicked out of the military, and the Harvey Milk School, a gay and lesbian high school. The march went through immigrant neighborhoods in Queens and ended with a large rally and concert.

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Defend civil liberties
By Brian Huseby

OLYMPIA, Wash.--Three members of the Bush-Cheney campaign came here June 3 to tout the virtues of the USA PATRIOT Act. Sixty Bush supporters came to the presentation, but they were outnumbered by about 100 protesters who took to the street and parking lot of the hotel where the event was being held.

One of the protesters, Thad Curtz, a professor at Evergreen State College, entered the presentation room carrying a sign that read "No lawyers. No hearings. No warrants. Is not patriotism." Initially, Curtz was asked to stand at the back of the room so that his sign would not block the view of the attendees.

He did so, but that was not good enough for the Bush-Cheney campaign aides. They demanded that the hotel manager call the city police, who came and removed Curtz from the room. As Simona Sharoni, one of the protest organizers said, "The fact that he was sitting there with a sign, and they considered that a threat just goes to show the power they think they have."

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