Iraq: Anti-war protests – Seattle and Minnesota

On Saturday, 26 October there was a 4,000-strong Seattle protest organised by the Seattle anti-war coalition. This rally drew mainly white-collar workers, and many middle class white Democrats.

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Anti-war protests – Seattle and Minnesota

On 29 October, CWI Online gave reports of the international anti-war protests last week, including the huge march in Washington.

Below are two further reports from the US, which indicate the rising mood of opposition to Bush’s war plans and also shows the energetic anti-war campaigning of Socialist Alternative (CWI in the US).

CWI Online, 31 October 2002

Thousands at Seattle anti-war rally

The 6 October protest in Seattle two weeks before, which drew 7-8,000 participants, was organised more by young people from the ’Not In Our Name’ project and ’Refuse and Resist’. That protest drew a more youthful crowd.

The Washington State Labor Council adopted an anti-war resolution moved by rank-and-file union members and socialists, including our comrade, Doug.

Many of the speakers at last week’s rally made a big deal about Democrats in Congress who voted against the war, even though a majority of Democrats in Congress voted for the war. Two Democratic Congressman spoke at the rally, giving the impression that they were against the war.

We brought our banner: ’Money for Jobs and Education, not War – Socialist Alternative.’ We attempted to get a speaker, but we were only allowed to speak at the ’open-mic’ session. Our comrade used the limited two minutes to plug the city-wide student walk-out we are organising at noon the school day after the US begins its military assault on Iraq.

We sold 228 papers. We handed out a few hundred fliers for a public meeting entitled, "Is a world without war possible? Building a Socialist Alternative to War and Capitalism." This comes after a very successful speaking tour by a Nigerian comrade in the campuses. We handed out approximately 1,000 fliers about the city-wide student walk-out. 75 people signed up for more information about SA.

The day before this 4000-person city-wide protest, we organised rallies at the two colleges where we launched anti-war coalitions (University of Washington (UW) and Seattle Central Community College (SCCC). The rallies attracted 250 participants at UW (with thousands of students and staff seeing the rally) and 100 participants at SCCC. We had our same banner at UW. We had a comrade chairing each rally and a comrade speaking at each rally. We handed out fliers for our public meeting at both rallies. We sold 20 papers at SCCC and $18 of literature at UW.

SA initiates drive for 500 strong University of Minnesota rally

At least 500 demonstrated against war at the University of Minnesota, last Thursday – in the biggest demonstration of any kind at the University of Minnesota in years. Our SA branch initiated the organising drive for this rally, and played the leading role building it, bringing dozens of others into activity around plans we proposed and, in the main, coordinated.

After an hour of rallying and speakers, we marched 300 people to take over Washington Avenue, the main street near campus where thousands eat lunch each day (we marched at 1pm). With good stewarding, we maintained a tight march across all four lanes and marched four blocks, without police interference.

We rallied at a plaza, and then marched in a silent single-file line, in a ’Procession of Grief’, past an Army Recruitment centre, carrying coffins and banners. This line again blocked traffic at a major intersection, and the police once broke the line to let traffic through. But our stewards quickly regained control and kept the line tight and moving.

The mood was very lively and confident, and a sense of success was widespread among organisers and participants alike. Starting with a brief show by an anti-war hip-hop collective, five speakers addressed a receptive crowd. Alek spoke for Socialist Alternative, explaining the political and economic backdrop to the conflict and the need to replace the parties of big business and their violent profit driven system with a society based on human need, peace, and workers’ democracy. The crowd was very responsive; interrupting Alek with shouts and cheers to affirm his ideas.

We sold 55 papers at the rally. Many comrades had to also play logistical roles for the rally, talk to the media, etc. We distributed about 200 Socialist Alternative statements (locally produced for the event) against the war, with a meeting advertised and entitled ’Answering Bush’s Lies: Arguments for the anti-war movement’.

The local NBC TV station gave extremely good coverage for our protest on the 5pm and 10pm news. A minute long story showed our full numbers, gave a good impression of the energy, showed clips of a speaker announcing, "this is about oil", and showed a banner our comrades made. The ’Daily’ (a student paper) put the protest as its top story, and showed a picture of a sympathiser of ours, with a caption identifying her as a member of Socialist Alternative.

Ty Moore, Minneapolis

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