Protests demand: End Iraq occupation
Published Mar 23, 2005 4:44 PM
A new anti-war movement is
rising. People all over the globe took to the streets on the weekend of March
19-20 to demand an end to the U.S. war for expanding empire. Demonstrations took
place in more than 40 countries. And in the U.S., the belly of the beast,
demonstrations, rallies, meetings and vigils took place in more than 700 cities
Constance Walcott, the
grandmother of Jamaal Addison—
the first GI from Georgia to die in
Iraq—speaking at the rally in Atlanta.
These were not the massive marches like those before the
opening blitzkrieg bombing of Baghdad, when millions rallied hoping their
efforts would stay the hands of the warmakers in Washington.
This is a new
stage of protest. It is stirred by two years of the Iraqi population’s
refusal to surrender to re-colonization—despite untold casualties and the
brutality of imperial occupation—and the inexorable resistance
movement that has generated.
In the U.S. in particular, the movement is
fueled by the number of soldiers coming home disabled or in coffins, the threat
of forced military conscription, and the starving of the cities to feed the
insatiable war machine.
As these hardships weigh most heavily on the most
downtrodden and disenfranchised sectors of the working class, the leadership and
participation of Black and other nationally oppressed peoples in the March 19
protests signals a new direction in the anti-war and anti-imperialist struggle
A march by 15,000 people of all nationalities and ages through the
streets of Harlem demanding “Bring the troops home now,” received
warmly by those on the sidewalks, was just such a harbinger. The march was led
by the Million Worker Movement and the militant youth group FIST—Fight
Imperialism, Stand Together. It met up with thousands more protesters in Central
In Los Angeles, a long car caravan that snaked its way through Watts
to an ANSWER demonstration of thousands in Hollywood on March 19 was hailed by
the oppressed South Los Angeles community for demanding that the hard-earned
social surplus be spent on health care, not warfare.
San Francisco ANSWER
organizers estimated 25,000 came out to the Bay Area protest.
Seoul, South Korea
by GIs and their families was a key feature in the March 19
In Fayetteville, N.C., home to Ft. Bragg, some 3,000 to
4,000 demonstrators heard GI resister Camilo Mejia, Iraq War veterans and GI
family members speak out against the war. Nearly one in every five U.S. troops
in Iraq comes through this or other North Carolina military bases. Mejia had
spoken to hundreds at a Detroit protest the day before.
In Atlanta, the
grandmother and uncle of Jamaal Addison, the first Georgia soldier to die in the
invasion, spoke at the local rally before getting on a bus with others to go to
After a one-hour standoff with police in Chicago, 1,000
protesters marched to the Federal Plaza to join another 3,000 gathered there for
a permitted rally. Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney keynoted the
Hundreds who rallied at a local church in Baltimore heard Fred
Mason, president of the AFL-CIO in Maryland and D.C., denounce the war.
From Texas to Maine, Florida to Washington State, people rallied by the
hundreds and thousands against the occupation. Demonstrations took place in
Hawaii and Alaska, too.
Around the world
Crowds estimated by
organizers in the 100,000-range marched in London, Rome and Brussels.
While the pre-war demonstrations in some European capitals had been
massive, at that time many of Washington’s imperialist rivals opposed the
Now the European ruling class is concerned that a
U.S. debacle in Iraq might lead to an imperialist defeat in the Middle East. The
protests face more of an uphill battle to organize and to be heard.
10,000 to 20,000 joined demonstrations on March 19-20 in Istanbul and Buenos
People in Calcutta, India, formed an anti-imperialist human chain so long it encompassed the whole city, stretching more than 6 miles north to
Demonstrations also took place in Australia, Brazil, Cyprus,
Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Sweden
and other countries on all continents.
Sources: Anti-war activists in
the United States and around the world.
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