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In 100 U.S. cities

Activists demand: ‘Hands Off Iran!’

Published Aug 6, 2008 9:56 PM

New York City, Aug. 2.
WW photo: John Catalinotto

“No War on Iran” was a slogan and chant that resonated across the U.S. on the weekend of Aug. 1-2 as emergency marches, rallies, vigils, teach-ins, honk-for-peace picketlines and leaflet distributions were held to protest U.S.-Israeli war threats against Iran.

Under the leadership of the Stop War on Iran Campaign, anti-war activists in 100 cities voiced their opposition boldly in the streets despite the short notice in which the initial call was made, the difficulty of organizing during the summer and the sometimes paralyzing effects on organizing during a presidential election.

No matter how modest the numerical turnout of the protests, activists were excited to be part of nationally coordinated actions to help bring a broader awareness of the devastating impact that another U.S.-orchestrated war of aggression will mean for the people in the Middle East region as well as for the U.S. population, which faces a growing avalanche of foreclosures, evictions, massive unemployment, high gas and food prices, and more.

Besides bringing attention to the real threat of a military strike against the sovereign country of Iran, activists also raised the new round of economic sanctions against Iran, which is another form of war. Activists connected Iran to the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which have cost hundreds of billions of dollars and maimed and killed an untold number of civilians and soldiers.


Christina Hilo, BAYAN-USA and
LeiLani Dowell, FIST, NYC.
WW photo: John Catalinotto

NEW YORK CITY

An estimated 700 to 1,000 activists refused to allow two torrential thunderstorms to dampen their spirits and determination to rally in Times Square and then take to the streets Aug. 2. Thousands more who were passing by stopped to listen to speeches, chants and songs that connected the wars abroad with the wars at home against the workers, the poor and the oppressed. Joyce Chediac, a Lebanese-American activist and journalist, and LeiLani Dowell, a FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) organizer, chaired the rally.

Larry Holmes, a leader of the Troops Out Now Coalition, spoke on the imperialist nature of U.S. wars and why it is in the interest of the people in the U.S. to support self-determination, not the U.S. government. Kazem Azin, a long-time Iranian activist, told the crowd that the Iranian people will continue to defend their homeland against U.S. and Israeli aggression. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark urged the crowd to keep organizing and resisting wars.

Other rally participants represented the American Iranian Friendship Committee, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Million Worker March Movement, New York Katrina/Rita Solidarity Coalition, World Can’t Wait, Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Justice Committee, BAYAN-USA, New York Free Mumia Coalition, International Action Center, Pakistan USA Freedom Forum, Veterans for Peace, Raging Grannies and many more.

Following the rally, a youth-dominated, multinational and militant march took to the streets. When the police tried to force the marchers onto the sidewalk, they stood their ground and stayed in the streets until the march ended. Activists included a large youth contingent from Nodutdol for Korean Community Development along with organizers from the Iraq Veterans Against the War, FIST, IAC and many other groups.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

A protest took place Aug. 2 in front of the White House. One hundred and fifty protesters carried signs that included “Iran Didn’t Foreclose on My House” and “U.S. Out of the Middle East.” At a rally in a park, Rostam Pourzal from Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran spoke, along with David Hoskins from the D.C. Stop War on Iran Campaign.

The protest was multinational, with a large number of people from the Iranian community along with Black activists, particularly youth, as well as Code Pink members and other anti-war activists. Media coverage of this protest included Al Jazeera, CNN and Youth and Politics Beat. The Baltimore All-Peoples Congress also participated. Activists are meeting on Aug. 12 to plan future actions.

LOS ANGELES

Two hundred anti-war protesters gathered and marched in downtown Los Angeles Aug. 2 despite 20 violent pro-shah and pro-U.S.-war counter-protestors who tried to stop it. The counter-protestors were violating a permit obtained by the Stop the War on Iran Coalition. In fact, the only action the police took was to attempt to arrest one of the coalition monitors defending the Stop War on Iran protest.

To allow the program to resume, about 15 demonstration monitors were able to isolate and force the counter-protestors out of the park. Speakers and initiators of the march represented BAYAN-USA, World Can’t Wait, FMLN, FIST and the IAC. Other speakers represented South Asian Network, USLAW-Los Angeles, Service Employees Local 721, Al-Awda, Anti-Racist Action, Union of Progressive Iranians and more. The militant march was very visible along Broadway’s mostly [email protected] and working class neighborhood, and some observers joined in. Press included Fox News, local Pacifica station KPFK and Tehran News.

RALEIGH, N.C.

A protest convened at the State Capitol building, with Rima L’Amir from FIST making opening remarks. Twenty pro-war men with U.S. flags tried to provoke the anti-war activists but were unsuccessful. The march stopped at U.S. Congressman Bob Ethridge’s office downtown, where Larkin Coffey from FIST and a speaker from the Durham Bill of Rights Defense Committee spoke. The march then went to Barack Obama’s local campaign headquarters where Rev. David Foy from Black Workers for Justice spoke. FIST’s Dante Strobino talked about the pro-war role of the Democratic Party. When the march passed the bus station, many riders joined in the anti-war chants and took Stop War on Iran literature. Ben Carroll from FIST was interviewed on National Public Radio.


Houston
WW photo: Gloria Rubac

HOUSTON

TONC organized an open mic protest Aug. 1 in 100-degree heat for two hours at the Mickey Leland Federal Building. “We have so many issues to fight right here at home. We don’t need to make war on Iran,” said Alma Diaz, co-host of KPFT Pacifica’s show “Proyecto Latino Americano.” She announced, “Tomorrow morning we are going to confront the racist Border Watch at a job site and we urge you to join us.”

Signs that read “Honk to Stop War” evoked continuous honking by drivers, who also waved and made peace signs. People signed petitions for “No War on Iran.” Council on American-Islamic Relations representative Ali Khalili stated, “Enough is enough. In our name, with our money, they are killing people across the world. We waged war in Iraq. More than a million innocent men, women and children have died.”

Other activists represented the Harris County Green Party, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Houston Peace Forum, Houston Peace and Justice Center, Code Pink and Houston Coalition for Justice. Njeri Shakur from the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement stated, “People’s lives are in a crisis with the rising gas prices, rising rents and food costs. ... People are sick of war and want our tax money to be spent on the real needs of the people.”


Boston
WW photo: Liz Green

MASSACHUSETTS

More than 200 activists picketed the Army Recruitment Center Aug. 2 in downtown Bostonin an action jointly organized as a Counter-Recruitment Day called by the UMass/Boston Antiwar Coalition and Boston Stop War on Iran Campaign.

Shouting “We support war resisters, they’re our brothers. They’re our sisters,” the picket line stretched an entire block and was joined by activists from TONC, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition, Workers World Party, International Socialist Organization, Vets for Peace, Smedley Butler Brigade, Women’s Fightback Network, Stonewall Warriors and Boston School Bus Drivers Union, Steelworkers Local 8751.

Mike Spinnato from IVAW told WW, “Reading Howard Zinn’s ‘People’s History of the United States’ opened my eyes to the reality of what armed forces recruitment was really about.”

FIST organizer Miya spoke on the connection between the military recruiting oppressed youth to fight and die abroad and the need for jobs for youth, not jails and war.

In Springfield, 50 people attended an Aug. 2 news conference in Court Square, across from City Hall, followed by a public speak-out. The speakers included State Representative Benjamin Swan, a civil rights activist who marched with Dr. King, and award-winning Latino poet Martin Espada. Iranian-born Behzad Samimi, now a U.S. citizen, made a strong case against a U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran.

They were joined by Don James, president of Arise, a poor people’s rights group; Dr. “Marty” Nathan of Physicians for Social Responsibility; student John Collura of the STCC Mobilization Against Poverty, Racism and War, along with representatives from Out Now, Wally Nelson Veterans for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee.

All three Springfield TV stations covered the news conference as well as The Springfield Republican newspaper. Nick Camerota of the Western Massachusetts IAC was interviewed prior to Aug. 2 on two African-American radio programs about the protest. Other protests in the state were held in Pittsfield, Orange andTisbury.

DETROIT

More than 100 multinational activists joined a spirited protest in downtown Detroit at Hart Plaza Aug. 1, declaring “U.S.-Israel: Hands off Iran” and “Money for Housing, Not for War!”

The emergency action, sponsored by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, was joined by members of Peace Action, the Teachers and Auto Workers unions, the Moratorium NOW! coalition, Latinos Unidos, Pax Christi, the Green Party, the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, 11th Hour 4 Peace, Iranian community members and others.

During a speak-out activists linked the U.S.’s planned war on Iran to the domestic war, most notably in relation to foreclosures, school closings, police brutality and the increasing cost of living. A similar action took place in Ann Arbor Aug. 2.

CHICAGO

To oppose the bipartisan war threats against Iran, more than 125 anti-war and progressive activists attended a rally at the State of Illinois Building organized by the Chicago Coalition against War and Racism.

The speakers’ list included public housing activist Beauty Turner; immigrant rights activist Jorge Mujica from the March 10th Coalition; Iranian activist Ali Akbari from Evanston Neighbors for Peace; Al Sutton of Chicago Labor against War; and Angie Haban of the “Holy Name 6,” activists who face charges for staging an anti-war protest during the 2008 Easter service at Holy Name Cathedral. The protestors marched to the Cook County Republican Headquarters, the Israeli consulate and the Democratic National Committee headquarters.


Hicksville, Long Island, N.Y.
WW photo: Heather Cottin

OTHER AUG. 2 PROTESTS

In Cleveland anti-war groups demanded “Don’t Iraq Iran” as they marched past the federal building to a rally at a downtown park. Congressperson Dennis Kucinich made opening remarks charging the Bush administration with using the same lie—weapons of mass destruction—to justify another war. Other speakers represented the Iranian community, Peace Action, World Can’t Wait, U.S. Labor Against the War, AFSC, WILPF, Vets for Peace, Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, TONC, Middle East Peace Forum and others. A protest was also held in Columbus.

In Buffalo a demonstration was sponsored by Buffalo Forum, the Western New York Peace Center, IAC and WWP. The anti-war coalition in Buffalo recently shouted John McCain out of Buffalo.

A rush-hour protest in downtown Baltimore was held Aug. 1. Hundreds of workers honked their horns and waved as activists held signs that read “Foreclose the war, not our homes” and “Roll back gas prices, not war on Iran.”

In Hicksville, Long Island, N.Y. 65 people rallied, joined in a lively action at the railroad station and then took a “peace” train to the NYC rally. Activists from Vets for Peace, Code Pink, L.I. TONC, Pax Christi, Hicksville SDS, as well as Hicksville Students Against War participated.

More than 80 anti-war activists lined both sides of a busy midtown Atlanta street to oppose any economic sanctions or military attack on Iran. There were honks of approval from many passing cars and cheers from pedestrians. Leaflets urging people to contact their elected officials and voice their rejection of any blockade of Iran as contained in House Resolution 362 were distributed to shoppers.

The IAC and the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta action drew a number of youth and students as well as members of the Iranian community, some of whom came in response to a half-page “No War on Iran” ad placed in a weekly newspaper.

The IAC organized a Stop War on Iran picket line at the Federal Courthouse in Seattle and then marched to City Center. This march joined forces with a vigil against the U.S.-Israeli war and occupation against Palestine called by Voices of Palestine. Another demonstration organized by IVAW, GI Voice and Olympia SDS at the gates of Ft. Lewis appealed to the soldiers not to fight in Iran.

Nearly fifty people came out in 103-degree heat in Denver to protest war threats against Iran by the Bush regime. Banners and signs held by the activists received many positive responses from passing motorists.

In Bozeman, Mont., a vigil to Stop Wars on Iraq and Iran was held at the Gallatin County Courthouse. Overwhelmingly, passersby, many on their way to and from a local fair, supported the demands by honking car horns, giving peace signs or raising their fists in support.

In Tucson a discussion was held on how the local anti-war movement can educate people about the Bush administration’s lies regarding Iran. One speaker, who visited Iran last summer, gave a firsthand account of the gains the Iranian people have made since overthrowing the shah in 1978.

Other Stop War on Iran protests were held in Kennebunkport, Maine; Salt Lake City; Louisville, Ky.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Hilo, Hawaii; Gate 1 of the Norfolk Naval Amphibious Base in Norfolk, Va.; Naples and Miami, Fla.; Madison, Wis.; and many more. Go to www.StopWarOnIran.org for report-backs on other actions and what’s next.

Contributors to this report include Steven Ceci, Heather Cottin, Catherine Donaghy, Martha Grevatt, Larry Hales, David Hoskins, John Lewis, John Long, Dianne Mathiowetz, Jim McMahon, Frank Neisser, John Parker, Lou Paulsen, Bryan G. Pfeifer, Gloria Rubac, Tom Scahill, Gerry Scoppettuolo, Dante Strobino and Paul Teitelbaum.