Revolutionary Worker #1184, January 26, 2003, posted at http://rwor.org
A determined, growing movement took to the streets on January 18--making a forceful mark on the political stage just as the U.S. government has moved its huge machinery of war into place for an attack on Iraq.
Within the United States, hundreds of thousands of people mobilized in Washington, DC and in San Francisco in actions called by the ANSWER coalition to say "No to U.S. War on Iraq!"--while tens of thousands more marched in cities across the country, including Indianapolis, Tampa, and Tucson. Portland, Oregon, had a march of over 20,000.
Everywhere on January 18 it was clear that whole groups and communities of people are being drawn into the resistance against the war. Buses were filled by church congregations from the South. Contingents came together from colleges and universities. Even the mainstream media in the U.S.--which often ignored the antiwar actions of last fall--were forced to give prominent coverage to these actions, and comment on the great breadth and diversity of this movement.
The whole world now knows that a powerful antiwar movement has emerged, here, within the U.S. itself. And in dozens of cities across the planet, many thousands more took to the streets--including Moscow, Damascus, Lahore and Islamabad in Pakistan, Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo, Christchurch in New Zealand, and several places across Canada.
In Cairo, Egypt, people defied a government ban on marches to denounce the U.S. threat against Iraq. In Germany, antiwar actions filled the streets in Bonn, Heidelberg, Rostock, Tuebingen and other cities, while civil disobedience actions were held at the massive U.S. airbase at Ramstein, where bombers and troops leave for the Gulf.
Correspondents for the RW reported that the march in Washington, DC was clearly larger than anything else that has happened since September 11--despite the harsh winter cold that had settled in.
The mainstream press gave estimates as high as 500,000. Even DC Police Chief Ramsey admitted, "It's one of the biggest ones we've had, certainly in recent times."
Our RW reporter in DC wrote: "All kinds of people came out determined to stop the war. There were people who hadn't demonstrated since protesting against the Vietnam war who felt compelled to act against the U.S. war plans. There were lots of peace activists and people from the church community calling for `Peace Not War!' There were college students coming out from the Midwest, the east and south to make it loud and clear, We don't want your racist war!! There were lots of youth and high school students in the house with banners and signs. There were people from the Muslim communities, people from different international communities and organizations. There were people from Korean, Philippine, Latin American and Arab organizations there. There were people from all different ages, nationalities, gender, gay activists, parents with kids in strollers, all kinds of people there with different viewpoints and ideologies and experiences saying in different ways, `We say no to this war against the people of Iraq and we are determined to stop the U.S. government!!'"
"Support the flag, end up in a body bag."
Homemade sign carried by Oakland students
"This day--January 18--may be remembered historically as the day that the silent giant woke up in America and said, `Wait a minute! You're going to do WHAT in my name? I'm sorry. No. We have to erase that.'"
Actor Martin Sheen at San Francisco rally
In San Francisco, between 150,000 and 200,000 people packed the city's main thoroughfare for four hours as they marched to the City Hall rally.
Over and over, students told the RW how they decided to become organizers-- and had brought their schools with them to the march. In Oakland, the local school board authorized district-wide teach-ins before the demonstration. Students from Drake High School in northern California's Marin County told the RW how they had organized a teach-in and a 'zine --sharing the true history of the Middle East and mobilizing 100 people for the march. One Drake student said: "The United States acts for what is in the best interest of the oil companies and the corporations, not for what is in the best interest of the people."
Several hundred people moved on the offices of federal Immigration authorities --windows were shattered and walls spray-painted in protest of the current government targeting of Muslim and Arab immigrants in the U.S.
It has been clear, throughout this last year, that the U.S. and allied governments have no intention of listening to the people. They are determined to press ahead with intensified war and threats of war. This week, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer confirmed this again when he said that President Bush, hidden away at Camp David, did not see these growing protests as evidence of lack of support for war on Iraq.
On January 18 many people spoke to the RW of their determination to build this resistance until the war and the war-makers are stopped. One woman in DC said she was inspired by the two train crews in England that refused to carry the weapons that were going to Iraq. Another person said: "There has to be disruption, walkouts at schools and labor disruptions." Many people stressed the importance of preparing actions across the U.S. to confront future escalations against Iraq.
"I'm out here because this is an unjust war, it's an immoral war and the current president is leading the world to destruction. I can no longer just sit and talk about it. I have to do something active about it and that's why I'm here. I hope that internationally we can bring together a force that can stop this madness."
African American woman speaking to
January 18, San Francisco
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