L.A. Neighborhoods Speak Out Against the War

Revolutionary Worker #1194, April 13, 2003,posted at rwor.org

During the second week of resistance against the war, there were actions all over Los Angeles, in different neighborhoods of the city.


March 28--"It's the opposite of what it says in the newspapers and on the news-- that this is a war for all of us," a woman from El Salvador said to a reporter. "It's not our war. The only thing we want is peace for everybody." She stood with her children in MacArthur Park, in the Pico Union barrio, as immigrants from Thailand, Kampuchea, the Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Korea, Mexico, and Iraq and other Arab countries joined hands with people born in this country in unity against the war in Iraq and in support of the immigrants now under attack in the U.S.

Three hundred people marched in the streets of Pico-Union with signs and banners in Chinese, Bengali, Spanish, and English. There were students from USC and Occidental College.

It was the first antiwar march in Pico-Union, and people in the neighborhood greeted the protest with smiles and raised fists, and some joined in. Day laborers marched with the Bus Riders Union and the Activist Collective from the San Fernando Valley. People wore blue triangles with the names of disappeared immigrants. The march was organized by the South Asian Network and the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and endorsed by many other organizations.

There were speakers from student groups, community organizations, and Refuse and Resist! Angel from the Clínica Msr. Oscar Romero read the Archbishop of San Salvador's last speech, where he called on government soldiers to stop murdering the people.

Ban Al-Wardi, an Iraqi-American immigration lawyer, had been scheduled to speak about the U.S. government's attack on Arab and Muslim immigrants. It was difficult for her to speak--"My family is dying," she explained, wiping her eyes. Finally, she stepped on the stage and said: "I stand here proudly today as an Iraqi, saluting you from the streets, from the bombed hospitals and schools of Basra. I salute you from the streets of desperation and resistance of Nasiriya, Najaf and Karabala. I salute you from Baghdad, where civilians hide in their homes praying for the bombing to end, and struggling defiantly to have one more day to live.

"I spoke to my family two days ago. They had one message for me to give to you today: Keep on resisting, keep on standing out here, keep going on all of your marches. It means so much to them, that they are not alone, and that you have not forgotten them. They want me to tell you to let Iraq live! They want you to scream that in the streets. Let Iraq live! Let Iraq live!"

Leimert Park

March 29--Over a thousand people, overwhelmingly African American, gathered in Leimert Park, making a powerful statement that many Black people do not support this war.

Leimert Park has been a place of struggle for years, and Leimert Park Village is an important center of African and African American culture. A broad range of organizations, including student and church organizations, sponsored the rally. Rev. Meri Ka Ra Byrd of the KRST Center for African Spirituality, one of the sponsors, talked about the importance of Black people protesting the war: "As an African American people particularly, who have undergone 400 years of terror and atrocity in this nation that still happens today, we have standing. We have the moral right to stand against this immoral and unjust war."

Other speakers included Rep. Maxine Waters, one of a few members in Congress that opposed the resolution to support the war on Iraq.


March 30--Over 10,000 people gathered at Pershing Square to march to the Federal Building. Spirits were high, and drummers from Korean and Aztec cultures kept up a pounding beat as people took to the streets. A high school student from Montebello to the east of L.A. talked about an impromptu protest at her school the Friday before, when 25 teachers and students walked out.

The following Wednesday, April 2, Global Women's Strike and Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace rallied at the Federal Building. A dozen women went into the street and were arrested. They held a clothesline with blood-stained children's clothes and pictures of people in Iraq wounded or killed by U.S. bombs.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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