ANTI-WAR MARCHES OF NEW TYPE
Washington, D.C.: Protest hits FEMA, ICE
Published Oct 4, 2007 2:28 AM
Two months of anti-war activity culminated at the end of September in dynamic
encampments to stop war at home and abroad and militant, anti-imperialist and
anti-racist demonstrations in both Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
D.C. march steps off from Encampment.
WW photo: Deirdre Griswold
Here in Washington, during the Sept. 22-29 Encampment to Stop the War at Home
and Abroad, more and more participants arrived and staked their tents in front
of the Capitol building as the Sept. 29 mass march approached. A real sense of
unity could be felt among the many activists from varied struggles who share a
A FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) trailer brought by Katrina
survivors direct from New Orleans joined the Iraq Veterans Against the War bus,
which had been parked in front of the Encampment since Sept. 22. The tent city
was treated to a delicious meal of shrimp, crawfish and sausage cooked by the
Common Ground Collective organizers who, after traveling more than 17 hours to
get to the Capitol from New Orleans, spent the next day cooking the meal.
WW photo: G. Dunkel
Encampment participants, mostly women from Code Pink, disrupted a Senate
Appropriations Hearing on Sep26 in which Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
requested an additional $42 billion in funds for the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Gates’s appeal brings the 2008 request for war
funds—above and beyond the even larger Pentagon budget—to a record
high of almost $190 billion.
Members of the cast of “SiCKO”—Michael Moore’s movie
exposing the exploitative for-profit health care system—arrived on Sept.
28 to augment the demand for “Health care, not warfare.”
WW photo: Deirdre Griswold
Other events in the last three days of the Encampment included a meeting on the
struggle of survivors for justice in the wake of Hurricane/Rita, and immigrant
rights; a delegation that called on the acting Attorney General to free the
Cuban Five; a health care vigil; a militant youth action with several targets;
and a concert to demand an end to martial law in the Philippines. Rock the
Rulers, the week-long concert series of the Encampment, brought cultural
inspiration and resistance every night.
Mass march ties issues together
WW photo: Gary Wilson
A preliminary report issued by the Troops Out Now Coalition states: “The
march on Saturday, Sept. 29 was a departure in tone and make-up from many past
anti-war demonstrations. It was a serious and highly successful effort to
involve more community-based organizations and issues and to link the struggle
against the war with the struggles against racism, oppression and economic
injustice at home.”
A multinational crowd of some 10,000 to 15,000 included contingents from
organized labor; lesbian, gay, bi and trans activists; Katrina survivors;
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; the Peoples
Organization for Progress; Iraq Veterans Against the War; the Green Party of
the U.S., BAYAN USA; and more.
The march route included stops to protest at the offices of FEMA, where Katrina
survivors accused the agency of neglect; Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
where protestors shouted “Melt ICE” and “Stop the
raids;” the Department of Social Services; and the Department of
Education, where Code Pink, chanting “Books not bombs,” covered up
part of the “No child left behind” slogan to read “Every
child left behind.”
Palestinian speaker Mohammad Awdallah,
Sept. 29th rally
D.C. Behind, Nana Soul holds
WW photo: Liz Green
Speakers and performers at the rally all drew clear links between the war in
Iraq and the war at home, including a labor delegation with Brenda Stokely of
the Million Worker March Movement, Charles Jenkins and Larry Adams of the New
York City Labor Against the War, and members of District Council 37; political
prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, via a recorded greeting from death row; Malik Rahim,
Common Ground Collective; Medea Benjamin, Code Pink; Bernadette Ellorin and
Christine Hilo, BAYAN USA; Larry Hamm, People’s Organization for
Progress; and David Swanson, After Downing Street.
Also speaking were Ardeshir Ommani of the Stop the War On Iran Campaign and
American Iranian Friendship Committee; Ignacio Meneses, National Network on
Cuba; Walter Sinche, May 1st Immigrant Rights Coalition; Rosita Romero,
Dominican Women’s Development Center; Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop
Caucus; Adam Kokesh, Iraq Veterans Against the War; Ann Wright, retired U.S.
Army veteran and 16-year diplomat who resigned in opposition to the Iraq war;
Victor Toro, Chilean leader of MIR being threatened with deportation; Debra
Sweet of World Can’t Wait; and Teresita Jacinto Oliva of Mexicanos Sin
Continuing the short, punchy talks were Jared Ball, and Sara “Echo”
Steiner, Green Party members; Charlotte Kates of Al-Awda New York, the
Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Pam Africa, International Concerned Family
and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; political prisoner Leonard Peltier, via a
statement; Sonia Umanzon of the FMLN (Faribundo Martí National Liberation
Front); Katrina survivors Ivey Parker and Christine Gavin-Lathan; Mohammad
Awdallah, U.S. Popular Palestine Conference Network; Ricardo Prado of the
Colombian political party Democratic Pole; Tyneisha Bowens of FIST—Fight
Imperialism, Stand Together; Larry Holmes, Teresa Gutierrez and Sara Flounders
for TONC and the International Action Center; Omowale Clay, December 12
Movement and Friends of Zimbabwe; and Milton St. Germaine, New England Human
Rights Organization for Haiti.
Independent media part of movement
While the capitalist media practically boycotted the marches on Sept. 29 and
provided limited coverage of the Encampments, independent media was there in
force to convey the event’s message to the world. In Your Face radio
broadcast daily interviews from the Encampment throughout the week.
Pacifica’s KPFK radio was the media sponsor for the Los Angeles march and
An enthusiastic report on the march in Washington, D.C., can be heard on the
local Indymedia affiliate (dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/141002/).
The commentator states: “On the 29th of September, the campaign against
the war in occupied Iraq once again took to the streets ... demanding an end
not only to the war in occupied Iraq, but the global war on the poor, as fought
in New Orleans, fought in Jena, fought on the Mexican border. This was a
surprisingly militant march that tied the different aspects of George
Bush’s crimes together.
“Apparently Troops Out Now understands that this is not just about Iraq;
the same regime that wages war on the people of Iraq is also the regime that
sponsors gentrification in our cities and the wholesale incarceration of
African-American youth, the vicious fascist crackdown on Latin@ immigrants, and
so many other evils. ... All this noise can certainly be heard in Central Cell
Block where prisoners are being held.”
The report quoted Larry Adams, who expressed “solidarity with the
historic Iraqi resistance, who are on the frontlines of the fight against our
common enemy, which is U.S. imperialism.”
Describing the youth action that took place at the end of the rally—which
blocked the streets in front of the Capitol until 10 p.m. that night—the
reporter concluded: “You can think of the long occupation of Pennsylvania
and Constitution Avenues as target practice for things that are surely going to
come as people get more and more pissed off about this war that is one war from
occupied Iraq, to occupied New Orleans, from occupied Palestine to Jena, to the
neighborhoods right here in occupied Washington. ... George Bush says
‘Bring it on’; well that’s exactly what we’re gonna
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