NYC: The Truth March

Revolutionary Worker #1199, May 18, 2003, posted at

From correspondents in New York:

On May 4, several organizations and individuals came together to protest the occupation of Iraq. Organizers included Not In Our Name Youth, Green Party, and No Blood for Oil. When the U.S. war on Iraq began, many people were upset, horrified, confused, dismayed, and filled with many other emotions. And since the war mainly ended and the occupation began, many people have been uncertain how to analyze the current situation and what it means to go back out onto the streets. People are confronting questions like "What are we protesting," "What is on people's minds and how do we address it," and "How do we protest now?"

In New York, some youth initiated an idea to have a day of protest commemorating the killing of students at Kent State and Jackson State by the National Guard in 1970, as well as to take a bold stand against the occupation. We felt it was important to say we were right to protest the war because it was unjust--and to say that this occupation is equally unjust.

There was a lot of struggle going into the day--trying to figure out what it would look like and what we wanted it to accomplish--especially when it became clear that the city was not going to give Not In Our Name a permit. But the youth, and a new coalition planning a Truth March to go along with the call for the day, were determined to go forward.

A college student who helped organize the protest pointed to the permit denial and police attacks on antiwar protesters and said: "They're trying to silence us and scare us into submission, and we're not going to stand for it. We're going to get up and we're going to march--and we're not going to let them stop us!"

So, it was a beautiful sight on Sunday, May 4, when we gathered at Central Park with about 200 to 300 other folks. There was music and dancing as we waited for the time when we would march.

Leading the crowd was a banner that said "TRUTH" with signs that represented Iraqi children looking like targets, signs against "blood for oil," and colorful flags. A Bike Bloc followed in the streets. The march was absolutely vibrant and boisterous! Even though it was relegated to half a sidewalk, the march captured the attention of everyone on the streets.

As we approached the Metropolitan Museum of Art -- a beautiful museum with a large sidewalk and huge steps leading up to its door -- we saw crowds of people hanging out. It was a beautiful day, and it was great to see so many people out. As we got closer, a papier-mache statue of George Bush suddenly appeared, rising about 12 feet in the air. A globe flag was lifted to cover his face, and hundreds of people cheered as the statue was smashed to the ground, stomped on, and dragged away as the march continued. You could tell that the people on the streets -- even through the fancy shopping district and the crowds of theatre- or museum-goers -- were intrigued and excited to see protesters back on the streets again. The march showed that the fight for another, better world had not disappeared. And the participants knew they still had strength and a need to be out on the streets. Even when they were flanked by cops on both sides, including cops on motorcycles, they were defiant, righteous and spirited with their message.

Miles Solay, NION youth organizer, said, "It's really important that people continue to build resistance. There's a whole new battle for truth that needs to be waged right now. That's one thing that Not In Our Name wants to kick off in the next period, while continuing to build resistance in particular with our campaign to get military recruiters out of high schools and colleges and off of MTV and BET. There's a battle for summation, for going out there and telling the truth--that we're right, they're wrong: it's an unjust war and occupation."

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