Revolutionary Worker #1120, September 30, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
The following are brief reports on protests and other developments in the wake of the attacks of September 11.
DC Protests Are Still On
The movement against imperialist globalization has been organizing for many months to protest the September 29-30 meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Following the events of September 11, the IMF and World Bank, in consultation with U.S. authorities, cancelled their meeting. Unfortunately, one of the main coalitions involved in organizing the protests called off their plans for demonstrations. But others are continuing their mobilization in D.C.--with a new and urgent focus on opposing the U.S. moves toward war.
Two main protests are planned for Saturday, September 29. The latest call to action from the Anti-Capitalist Convergence states: "We are calling for a march against the growing capitalist war on Saturday morning September 29 and invite all those interested in creating a world free from terror, hate, racism, poverty and war to demonstrate our unity and vision for a better world.... There is no justice to be found in retribution, war, racism, corporate globalization or capitalism itself. We condemn any and all retaliation and religious persecution of Arab, Arab American and Muslim people and we oppose any attack on our constitutional rights."
The International Action Center and others in the International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and Racism) coalition are calling for a national protest at the White House on September 29 as well as protests on the West Coast and around the world. Their call states: "Unless we stop President Bush and NATO from carrying out a new, wider war in the Middle East, the number of innocent victims will grow from the thousands and possibly more. A new, wider U.S. and NATO war in the Middle East can only lead to an escalating cycle of violence. War is not the answer. We must also act against racism."
Other protests and forums include the following: The People's Repo--sponsored by DC Homes Not Jails--is organizing for protests from Sept. 21 to 24 focusing on homelessness, gentrification, and urban squatting. The Washington DC Peace Center, American Friends Service Committee and others are holding a peace event on Sept. 30. The National Mobilization on Colombia will be holding educational events on Sept. 27-28. On Sept 27-29, 50 Years Is Enough, Essential Action, Global Exchange and the World Bank Bonds Boycott are holding teach-ins on "Ending Global Apartheid." On the 28th the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and others are sponsoring a Poor People's Forum, highlighting the "increasingly urgent need for the poor to come together for peace and economic justice."
Anti-War Marches and Rallies
In response to the loud drumbeats of war from the U.S. government and military, thousands around the country have been in the streets to oppose war, the repressive offensive on people's rights, and racist attacks on Arab people and others.
Over 3,000 marched in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday, September 16. On the same day 2,000 people gathered in San Francisco for an anti-war concert featuring Michael Franti of Spearhead. In Seattle, 5,000 took part in a "healing and peace" march organized by the Church Council of Greater Seattle. On September 21, 4,500 marched through the streets of New York City.These are only some of the many actions reported in cities in all parts of the country.
An activist in Fresno, California, wrote: "We had over 400 people show up at the anti-war demonstration yesterday (9/16). I was really pleased with the turnout (one of the biggest demonstrations in Fresno of the last 10 years) and with the clarity of the message--UNITY with the Muslim and Arab community and NO WAR. I was hesitant at first to go because I thought it could be just 10 or 20 of us on the march. I was really excited to see the HUGE crowd and clear anti-war message." A correspondent from Los Angeles, where 300 rallied downtown on September 20, wrote: "A college student had hand-painted his T-shirt with a beautiful globe and the warning: 'Don't touch Afghanistan! Remember El Salvador, Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, Croatia, Panama, Cuba, Lebanon, Nicaragua'...and a dozen more indictments of U.S. imperialist war crimes fell down the front of his shirt."
Thursday, September 20 was a national day of action on university campuses. San Jose Mercury reported, "140 campuses across the country...held noon rallies Thursday to express opposition to the national anti-Arab and anti-Muslim backlash and to call for a diplomatic, rather than military, response." The largest rally was at UC Berkeley, where over 3,500 gathered at Sproul Plaza.
Families of Those Who Died Speak Out Against War
The power structure is trying to seize on the grief of those who lost family members in the September 11 attacks to mobilize people into supporting U.S. war moves. But some family members have spoken out against U.S. military action.
Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez's son Greg was one of the thousands who died at the World Trade Center. Greg was an activist against U.S. intervention in El Salvador. A statement from Greg's parents has been circulating on the internet which says in part: "We see our hurt and anger reflected among everybody we meet. We cannot pay attention to the daily flow of news about this disaster. But we read enough of the news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us. It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son's death. Not in our son's name."
Judy Keane's husband, Richard, also died in the World Trade Center. She said, "The World Trade Center was in retaliation for something else, and that was retaliation for something else. Are we going to continue this in perpetuity? We have to say at some point, okay, let's find another way of doing this."
UC-Berkeley senior Yes Duffy lost his aunt, Renee Newell, who was on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Speaking at a campus anti-war rally, Duffy said, "Terrorists killed my aunt. But then I turn on the TV and all I see is 'America at War.' My little cousin no longer has a mom. But I don't want people in other countries to say 'America killed my mom, or my dad.' If my aunt were alive today, she would be here with us.''
"Our Grief Is Not a Cry for War!"
From the Refuse & Resist! Artists Network:
"At 12 noon Saturday, September 22, over 100 artists all wearing black filed onto Union Square at 14th Street in New York City where many people have been gathering for the last 10 days to grieve and to try to make sense of what happened on September 11. A hush fell over the crowd at Union Square as the artists took their places in a semi-circle. For one hour they stood in silence wearing face masks and placards silk-screened with 'OUR GRIEF IS NOT A CRY FOR WAR.' The response to this performance was electric, many people coming up to take stickers, find out who these people were, and thank them. Some were in tears.
"Hundreds of photographs were taken of this performance by people who saw it, including two by an AP photographer which landed on the yahoo.com home page at 8:30 Saturday night. Within an hour one of the pictures became the 'most popular' photo on the site, having been sent to other people over 400 times.
"The group who organized the performance were artists in film, video, visual art, theater, dance, spoken word. They do not want their grief to be used as a justification for war, attacks on Arabs and Muslims, and new repressive laws or clampdowns. More artworks and performances are being planned.
For more information, go to artistsnetwork.org, the website of the Artists Network of Refuse & Resist!"
Attacks on Arab and Other People--and Resistance
The ugly wave of racist attacks on Arab and Muslim people--and other people of color--continues. In every part of the U.S., there have been numerous incidents of threats, harassment, and physical assaults against Arab people, businesses, mosques and organizations. Racists are also targeting people who they think are Muslims--like Sikh men from India who wear turbans.
A number of people have been killed in racist attacks. On September 14, Balbir Singh Sodhi, an immigrant from Yemen, was gunned down at his gas station in Mesa, Arizona. The man who killed Sodhi also fired at a Lebanese clerk at another gas station and a home of an Afghan family. Ali Almansoop, from Yemen, who worked as a cook in the Detroit area, was another victim of a racist killing following September 11. Several other killings are suspected to be the work of racists, including Waqar Hasan, a Pakistani man shot in his grocery store in Dallas, and Kimberly Lowe, a 21-year-old Creek woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma, killed by white men who reportedly yelled at her, "Go back to your country."
This racist offensive has been met with outrage, protest, and expressions of solidarity with the people under attack. One such solidarity action took place on September 21 in southwest Chicago, where crowds of reactionaries waving U.S. and Confederate flags have been threatening a local mosque. A correspondent reported: "In response to a call by the Southwest Organizing Project, people came from both the neighborhood and from around the city and suburbs to make a clear statement that the racist attacks on Muslim and Arab people going on across the country and in Chicago will not be tolerated. Those present inluded a Palestinian activist, a Latino woman from the community, a dread-locked African American, nuns and priests from the local parish, and Jewish individuals opposed to Israeli aggression."
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)