Protests Demand: End Iraq Occupation: Over 40 Countries, 700 U.S. Cities
BY LESLIE FEINBERG
Excerpted from Workers World, March 23, www.workers.org
… People all over the globe took to the streets on the weekend of March 19-20 to demand an end to the U.S. war for expanding empire. Demonstrations took place in more than 40 countries. And in the U.S., the belly of the beast, demonstrations, rallies, meetings and vigils took place in more than 700 cities and towns.
These were not the massive marches like those before the opening blitzkrieg bombing of Baghdad, when millions rallied hoping their efforts would stay the hands of the warmakers in Washington.
This is a new stage of protest. It is stirred by two years of the Iraqi population’s refusal to surrender to re-colonization—despite untold casualties and the brutality of imperial occupation—and the inexorable resistance movement that has generated.
In the U.S. in particular, the movement is fueled by the number of soldiers coming home disabled or in coffins, the threat of forced military conscription, and the starving of the cities to feed the insatiable war machine.
As these hardships weigh most heavily on the most downtrodden and disenfranchised sectors of the working class, the leadership and participation of Black and other nationally oppressed peoples in the March 19 protests signals a new direction in the anti-war and anti-imperialist struggle here.
A march by 15,000 people of all nationalities and ages through the streets of Harlem demanding “Bring the troops home now,” received warmly by those on the sidewalks, was just such a harbinger. The march was led by the Million Worker Movement and the militant youth group FIST—Fight Imperialism, Stand Together. It met up with thousands more protesters in Central Park.
In Los Angeles, a long car caravan that snaked its way through Watts to an ANSWER demonstration of thousands in Hollywood on March 19 was hailed by the oppressed South Los Angeles community for demanding that the hard-earned social surplus be spent on health care, not warfare.
San Francisco ANSWER organizers estimated 25,000 came out to the Bay Area protest.
Resistance by GIs and their families was a key feature in the March 19 demonstrations.
In Fayetteville, N.C., home to Ft. Bragg, some 3,000 to 4,000 demonstrators heard GI resister Camilo Mejia, Iraq War veterans and GI family members speak out against the war…
In Atlanta, the grandmother and uncle of Jamaal Addison, the first Georgia soldier to die in the invasion, spoke at the local rally before getting on a bus with others to go to Ft. Bragg.
After a one-hour standoff with police in Chicago, 1,000 protesters marched to the Federal Plaza to join another 3,000 gathered there for a permitted rally. Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney keynoted the rally.
Hundreds who rallied at a local church in Baltimore heard Fred Mason, president of the AFL-CIO in Maryland and D.C., denounce the war.
From Texas to Maine, Florida to Washington State, people rallied by the hundreds and thousands against the occupation. Demonstrations took place in Hawaii and Alaska, too.
Crowds estimated by organizers in the 100,000-range marched in London, Rome and Brussels…
Some 10,000 to 20,000 joined demonstrations on March 19-20 in Istanbul and Buenos Aires.
People in Calcutta, India, formed an anti-imperialist human chain so long it encompassed the whole city, stretching more than 6 miles north to south.
Demonstrations also took place in Australia, Brazil, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Sweden and other countries on all continents.
Sources: Anti-war activists in the United States and around the world.