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Los Angeles

Anti-war conference mobilizes for March 19

Published Feb 23, 2005 10:21 AM

The crucial importance of linking the anti-war and anti-racist movements was the theme of an all-day conference held here on Feb. 19 that drew a standing-room-only crowd despite a day of severe thunderstorms and floods, part of the unusual weather plaguing southern California.

The anti-war and social justice conference, held at the offices of Service Employees union Local 660, was sponsored by the International Action Center and the L.A. Million Worker March Committee.

The rallying cry of the day-long conference was unity and the merging of numerous struggles represented by a wide range of speakers. John Parker, West Coast coordinator of the IAC, commenced the program by calling for solidarity because, "We need unity in order to win the fight against war, U.S. imperialism and racism."

Parker prompted audience members to join the Troops Out Now Caravan. Community and labor activists who are trying to save the King/Drew Medical Center are planning a caravan, with a sound system, that will travel from the hospital in South Los Angeles to an anti-war rally on March 19 in Hollywood, called by ANSWER.

April Lawrence, a representative of U.S. Congressmember Maxine Waters, addres sed the campaign of deception being waged against the King/Drew Medical Center by the media and administrators who are intent on reversing the gains won by the Black community in the 1960s.

"Los Angeles can't afford to close the trauma center," remarked Lawrence. "We need a big movement to save King/Drew."

Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee noted, "The campaign of lies leveled against King/Drew is the same as that perpetrated against Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti."

Labossiere recounted Haiti's heroic history of resistance and explained its current struggle to rid itself of U.S. imperialism, sparking a thunderous "U.S. out of Haiti now!" from the audience.

Carlos Montes of Latinos Against the War and a member of SEIU Local 660 declared that the Black liberation struggle of the 1960s was a source of inspiration for his activism. Montes explained why it is pertinent for the success of the movement to recognize struggles for self-determination.

Zahi Dumani, national co-founder of Al-Awda, represented the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people against the U.S.-sponsored Israeli war of occupation. Dumani spoke about the current situation in Palestine and called for solidarity.

Monica Moorehead, a former U.S. presidential candidate of Workers World Party and coordinator of Millions for Mumia, warned against repeating the mistakes made during the 1960s. "There must be linkage between the anti-war and anti-racist movements" in order to have a viable and strong movement to stop U.S. imperialism, she stressed. "We must unite to halt the genocide in Iraq and the attacks against poor and working people in the U.S."

Founder of the Million Worker March movement and member of the militant International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Clarence Thomas, asked unions to pass resolutions in support of the upcoming March 19 mobilization against the war.

Thomas announced that no cargo would be loaded at the port of Oakland on March 19.

Thomas also addressed criticisms by people in the movement and from other unions about his decision not to back Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. "When people accused us of creating fissures with our Million Worker March, I would say, 'Those fissures were already present,'" commented Thomas.

He explained how Kerry's positions created the fissures--especially in regard to his support for the continuation of the war in Iraq and his lack of commitment to the labor movement.

Hwa Young Lee from the Korea Truth Commission gave an important update on the worldwide campaign to repeal South Korea's decades-long repressive National Security Law.

John Beacham of ANSWER gave an update on the March 19 anti-war demonstration in Hollywood.

In commemoration of Black History Month, Carl Mohammad, leader of San Diego's Committee Against Police Brutality, spoke about the contributions made by Dr. Martin Luther King's Poor Peoples Campaign.

Gloria Verdieu, member of San Diego's IAC and the Mumia Coalition, explained Malcolm X's unrelenting commitment to Black self-determination and his anti-imperialist stance.

The day's conference came to a close with a showing of Aleida Guevara's documentary, "Chávez, Venezuela and the New Latin America."

Participants in the conference went away with a treasure trove of information and a means for involvement in the growing movement to stop the war and attain social justice.


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