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News and reports

September 21, 2007 | Page 11

Antiwar protest in Washington, D.C.
Police brutality on Capitol Hill
Marching against war in Brooklyn

Antiwar protest in Washington, D.C.
By Alexander Billet and Elizabeth Schulte

WASHINGTON--Protesters gathered September 15 from as far away as Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles to demand an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Some 10,000 people attended the march and demonstration, which was sponsored by the antiwar organization ANSWER. At the front of the march were dozens of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) members, showing the organization's growth in both size and influence.

Attendees listened to speakers from the IVAW, as well as other well-known opponents of the war, like Cindy Sheehan and Ralph Nader. On the march, some 300 members of the Campus Antiwar Network represented one of larger contingents.

The action was timed to coincide with Gen. David Petraeus' report on the "success" of the surge in the numbers of troops in Iraq. After four years of disastrous occupation, it was clear that those in attendance were angry with the Bush administration's blunder in Iraq, as well as the failure of the Democrats to present any alternative to it.

About 1,000 pro-war counterprotesters, including right-wing vets in a group called the Gathering of Eagles, turned out to harass and intimidate protesters.

Antiwar protester Carlos Arrredondo of Military Families Speak Out was walking with a traveling memorial of his son Alex--which consists of a casket and photos of Alex--when a pro-war protester ripped a photo from the memorial. When Carlos chased the pro-war protester and retrieved his son's photo, witnesses say about five men attacked him, kicking him in the face, legs, stomach and back, and leaving several cuts and bruises. Police stepped in, but no one was charged.

The march ended in front of the Capitol building, where members of IVAW and hundreds of supporters staged a die-in. Afterward, several people, including IVAW members, tried to enter the Capitol, resulting in about 200 arrests.

U.S. Capitol Police used brutality in arresting protesters, said IVAW member Phil Aliff. Police threw people who were not resisting arrest to the ground, forced cuffed arrestees to sit in a stress position for nine hours in buses, and denied them water for nine hours and food for 15.

Afterward, ANSWER vastly over-reported the number of people who participated in the day of events, claiming that 100,000 people attended the march and 5,000 participated in the die-in.

Exaggerating the numbers at a protest won't build the strength or confidence of antiwar forces; in fact, it does the opposite. Only an honest assessment of where the antiwar movement is at and what kind of organizing is needed to get more people involved will make it stronger.

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Police brutality on Capitol Hill
By Michele Bollinger

THE U.S. Capitol Hill police have ratcheted up their crackdown on dissent and protest in the halls of Congress. While surrounded by grandiose monuments to American freedom and democracy, antiwar protesters have been targeted for violence by police in recent weeks.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip Hop Caucus, was attacked by six Capitol Hill police on September 10, 2007, while peacefully waiting in line to enter the hearing room where Gen. David Petraeus was due to appear before the House Armed Service Committee and Foreign Relations Committee to testify about the war in Iraq.

Police blocked Yearwood's entrance into the room--and then, without warning, "football tackled" him after Yearwood pointed out that he was just waiting in line and had a right to enter the room like everyone else.

According to witnesses, Yearwood had to be taken out of the building in a wheelchair and was sent to George Washington University Hospital.

The assault was a clear case of police brutality. Activists need to stand up and denounce the attack on Yearwood as an attack on all of our civil liberties.

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Marching against war in Brooklyn
By Cindy Klumb

NEW YORK--Some 150 antiwar activists marched through the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn September 15 to the office of Rep. Vito Fossella, who represents Congressional District 13. Bay Ridge includes a significant Muslim population, which has been under attack ever since September 11.

The march, the first in the neighborhood since the Vietnam War era, was initiated by Bay Ridge Neighbors for Peace and endorsed by Brooklyn for Peace, United for Peace and Justice/NYC, District 13 Alliance for Peace, Brooklyn Greens and others.

The march took up three demands: stop funding the war, bring the troops home now, and full benefits for veterans.

Speakers included Elaine Bower, whose son just returned from Falluja and his second tour of Iraq; David Jones of Staten Island Peace Action; Steve Harrison, a congressional candidate running against Fossella; and Nesreen, a teacher from Baghdad who is traveling on the "121 Contact Iraq" tour in an effort to educate Americans about what the war has meant to the Iraqi people.

Nesreen, whose family is both Sunni and Shia, said that before the U.S. came, the two groups lived and worked together in peace. The occupation is to blame for the conflict between them, she explained.

Nesreen's Shia brother-in-law was kidnapped and tortured to the point that he can't leave his house. His wife now supports the family. "Women are suffering the most. Their husbands, brothers and sons are being killed and they are being left behind to keep the family together," she said.

"I'm here because this war has had a terrible cost to both Americans and Iraqis, John Yanno, a Gulf War veteran and member of Bay Ridge Neighbors for Peace, told the crowd. "Over 3,700 Americans have lost their lives in this war...Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives at the hands of the U.S. government."

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