Iraq: 15 February – US – Half a million protest against war in New York

Today’s anti-war protests in the US and around the world were massive, in many places the largest protests in decades and the largest anti-war protests since the Vietnam War. In total, there were demonstrations in 150 cities and towns throughout the US.

15 February. No to war in Iraq. cwi reports from around the world. US.

Half a million protest against war in New York

In New York City, approximately 500,000 demonstrated in the freezing cold. This is the largest protest in NYC since the 1 million person anti-nuclear weapons protest of 1982. There was a large Socialist Alternative (CWI in the US) contingent at the demonstration, and the NYC branch will be sending out soon a report.

The police penned the protest in. They allowed few entry points, making it very hard for people to get to the demonstration. Probably thousands ended up being turned away and not attending due to these undemocratic restrictions. This followed the outrageous decision by Mayor Bloomberg and the courts to refuse to allow a march, but only a stationary rally. Bloomberg and the police were clearly trying to intimate people from coming to the protest. The police arrested around 320 people at the demo, and in some incidents used horses, pepper spray and clubs to attack protesters.

The second largest US protest was in Los Angeles. The police say it was 30,000 strong and organisers say 100,000.

Tomorrow (16 February) there will be a demo in SF, which should be quite large.

20,000 protesters brave cold and rain in Seattle

In Seattle, despite cold and rainy weather, organisers estimate the crowd was 20,000, which is the largest protest since the WTO protests in 1999. The protest was mainly made up of young people, middle class, workers and the Left. There was a small presence of union contingents (though larger than previous rallies), mainly made up of Jobs with Justice, SEIU and the ILWU. The political make up was very varied and confused, with a lot of illusions in the UN and support for the liberal Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott who spoke and marched at the rally.

Socialist Alternative had a lively, energetic contingent of 20 members and supporters that marched behind our banner and with Socialist Alternative picket signs (which said, "Money for Jobs and Education, Not War" on one side and "No to a world of war and terror – A socialist world is possible" on the other, with our web page address at the bottom). We passed out thousands of student walkout flyers to high school and college students, which increased the momentum and awareness of the campaign among Seattle’s students. We are still tabulating the results of our intervention, but a preliminary report is that we sold 200 papers, 55 Justice anti-war posters, 16 Socialist Alternative anti-war T-shirts and sold $18 worth of literature.

Report from New York City

The February 15th demonstration in New York City attracted between 400,000 and 500,000 protesters. This is the biggest anti-war demonstration in the US since the Vietnam War. The mood at the rally was very energetic despite the fact that there was no march because the courts denied the protesters a march permit. The police penned in the demonstration, refusing to let protesters move from block to block. The demonstration was so large, that there were thousands of protesters outside the penned area, many of whom blocked the streets. Towards the end of the rally, the police began to forcibly disperse the protesters. Cops moved in on horseback to spray demonstrators with pepper spray; police use of batons was reported by many comrades in different incidents. Socialist Alternative had 30 members intervening at the rally. We sold over 700 copies of Justice, the newspaper of Socialist Alternative, and we produced a special supplement for the rally which we distributed with the newspaper. We also collected many names of contacts who want more information about Socialist Alternative and the CWI.

Bryan, New York


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February 2003