3rd anniversary of Bush’s war
Last weekend, rallies, marches and protests against the US occupation of Iraq took place across the US, including in New York, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Detroit.
Below are eyewitness reports of several protests.
Anti-war protests across US
On the third anniversary of the US war on Iraq, Boston area anti-war war and anti-occupation coalitions staged a rally and march, which started at the Dudley Common in Roxbury, and ended at the State House in downtown Boston. We estimate around 1,000 people participated.
Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA) brought the most energetic and active contingent. We sold hundreds of papers, t-shirts, ‘Revolutionary Hip-Hop’ CDs, and raised fighting fund. We were also able to get names of people interested in joining Socialist Alternative and we gave out 1,000s of leaflets that we produced specifically for the day. We also gave out around 300 copies of the ‘Boston Organizer’, which is the new local newsletter we started this year.
Bryan Kolouris spoke for Socialist Alternative during the rally and delivered the most rousing and exciting speech of the day. He got the best response of any other speaker on the platform, and Bryan concluded with the chant, “Dump the Elephant; dump the Ass; build a party of the working class!”
Throughout the course of the long parade route, we made certain that every passer by, everyone coming out of their house to see what the noise was about, got a flyer.
We chanted during the entire parade, and with only three bullhorns we were louder than one of the sound trucks, which was near us for a while.
The march route was significant, in that it started in the middle of Roxbury, which is a working class, African-American neighbourhood. Unfortunately, the numbers of people at the rally were limited by the difficulty of getting to the site, as there were no direct busses and the closest subway stop was a long walk away.
We ended the march by going through the main downtown shopping district, and giving out flyers and the Boston Organizer. Our Socialist Alternative banner was prominent and had a good effect on people.
Joshua Koritz, Boston
Socialist Alternative participated in two protests, last weekend, in New York, on the third anniversary of the war in Iraq.
On Saturday, 18 March, we participated in a protest at the Harlem Military Recruiting Centre, on 125th Street, which is where we have street stalls every Saturday. The recruiting station was open but the recruiters did not come out of the centre, as they usually do, even though the police were present. We and other groups held the protest and picket for about an hour. We sold papers, newsletters, and had good discussions with people passing by.
On Sunday March 19th, we participated in a march and rally organised by A.N.S.W.E.R., at the Military Recruiting Centre, at Fordham Road, in the Bronx. The event drew about 100 people, who marched and then rallied across the street from the Centre. This was the first time we ran a street stall at this spot and we found it a very good place to campaign because of the diversity of this working class neighbourhood. We asked people to sign our Youth against War and Racism (YAWR) petition, we sold papers and newsletters, and we met several people interested in getting involved with Socialist Alternative. We told people about our upcoming public meetings in Brooklyn and Harlem.
Overall, last weekend in New York was disappointing, in the sense that the number of people out on the streets was really not what it should have been considering Bush’s low approval rating and the growing opposition across the US to the Iraq conflict.
The anti-war movement in the US is growing and has tremendous potential. But it needs bold leadership and demands and slogans that unite all working people against Bush’s war and his anti-working class domestic policies.
Seattle and Tacoma
On March 18th, to mark the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, approximately 1,500-2,500 protesters gathered for a rally at the Federal Building in Seattle.
The protesters took their calls for an immediate end to the Iraq war to the streets, with a march through downtown Seattle to Westlake (Seattle’s main shopping district), and back over to the Federal Building.
The turnout was decent, considering the very limited resources that were put into building for it. The main organization which organised the rally, ANSWER (Act Now to End War and Racism) is very weak in Seattle. No doubt, with a more effective approach and more resources, a far larger demonstration could have been organised.
Socialist Alternative (CWI) had a strong and energetic presence at the protest. We sold copies of our paper, ‘Justice’, other literature, and raised fighting fund. We got dozens of names of people interested in Socialist Alternative and distributed 1000 flyers for a public meeting we are having on ‘Iraq on the Brink: Why Peace is Impossible Under U.S. Occupation’. At the rally and during the march we also had picket signs and a huge banner demanding, ‘MONEY FOR JOBS AND EDUCATION NOT WAR – Socialist Alternative’, which served to increase our profile during the protest.
A particularly exciting aspect of the march through Seattle’s downtown was the Youth against War and Racism (YAWR) youth block that Socialist Alternative played a key role in mobilizing. Regular paper sales and leafleting campaigns at local high schools during the past two weeks really paid off as dozens of youth marching around the YAWR banner, made up what were undoubtedly the liveliest section of the march, complete with drum beats and an extensive selection of creative chants. A YAWR meeting which was held after the march at the Seattle Public Library just a few blocks away was also a huge success, drawing a crowd of 45-50 high school and college students, all of whom expressed an interest in doing another walkout in the fall and many of whom signed up saying they wanted to build YAWR chapters in their schools.
The third anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war brought the largest protest to Tacoma, Washington, since the Vietnam era 30+ years ago. 600-1,000 people converged on the People’s Park on March 19th, for a rally to protest against the Iraq war. We then marched through the city, which is a military town, and predominantly working class, towards the People’s Court community centre for another rally.
The event was born out of a brainstorming session at a Tacoma branch meeting between Socialist Alternative members and a non-member sympathizer and community organizer. One important effect of the rally was that African American community played a key role in organizing the rally and the black community was well represented. Some religious groups also attended. The increased turnout was important, especially when taking into consideration that a protest of this kind has literally not occurred in decades. The high point of the rally came when two young US army veterans, who recently returned home from Iraq, spoke about the horrors of the war and received an extended standing ovation for their courage to do so.
Socialist Alternative had a bold and energetic approach promoting our socialist ideas during the protests. We sold many papers and raised fighting fund. We got names of people interested in Socialist Alternative and we gave out hundreds of flyers for a public meeting we are having on ‘Iraq on the Brink: Why Peace is Impossible under U.S. Occupation’.
The Youth against War and Racism (YAWR) contingent on the march was the loudest and most fun, setting the march to a constant drum beat and occasionally leading chants. It also played a very visible role in mobilizing people from the surrounding community to the protest, arriving one hour early, to walk from block to block, as some YAWR members pounded on drums, while others handed out flyers to people coming out of their houses to see what was going on.
Adam Ziemkowski, Socialist Alternative, Seattle Branch
The 18 March protest at the Twin Cities brought over 4,000 into the streets; more than double the size of last year’s 2000 strong demonstration, and by far the largest antiwar event here since 10,000 protested on ‘Day X’, three years ago.
The ‘Star Tribune’ story on the protest was relegated inside the paper, but it featured a big picture of the march with our Socialist Alternative (CWI) banner. Check it out at: http://www.startribune.com/462/story/315966.html (new window).
Ty Moore, Twin Cities
See also: ‘WARNING: Supporting the Democratic Party is Harmful to the Health of the Anti-War Movement’, available on the recently revamped website of Socialist Alternative www.SocialistAlternative.org. Opens in new window.