Anti-war protests in U.S., Canada
‘Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan’
Published Oct 31, 2007 11:49 PM
A total of more than 100,000 people demonstrated Oct. 27 in Boston, Chicago,
Los Angeles, New Orleans, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, Salt Lake City,
Seattle, Orlando, Fla., Jonesborough, Tenn., and dozens of other locations
against the U.S. war on Iraq, according to the web site of United for Peace and
Justice (UFPJ), a major organizer.
WW photo: Judy Greenspan
Protests called for bringing the troops home now from Iraq; many also called
for ending the occupation of Afghanistan—the major issue in Quebec and
Canada, which have troops fighting and dying there and where there were also
demonstrations. Most rallies connected the costs of the war with the cuts to
social services, especially to health care, and many raised the danger of a new
U.S. war against Iran.
The actions in the eastern part of the United States took place despite heavy
rains. Students and young workers had strong contingents on many of the
demonstrations, with labor unions having a presence in the big cities.
WW photo: Bob McCubbin
Mainly UFPJ groups coordinated the actions in the eastern cities, working also
with ANSWER on the West Coast. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), U.S. Labor
Against the War (USLAW), the Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC), the World
Can’t Wait, Code Pink, Military Families Speak Out and many local
organizations were present; among the youth Students for a Democratic Society
(SDS), the Campus Anti-war Network (CAN), Fight Imperialism-Stand Together
(FIST), and other youth and school groups took part in many of the cities,
along with some immigrant-rights and anti-racist organizations.
Workers World correspondents covered a large sample of the protests.
WW photo: G. Dunkel
From Detroit, Kris Hamel reports that Michigan Emergency
Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI) organizers several weeks ago
decided to call a demonstration to coincide with the Oct. 27 protests and to
focus also on denouncing the very real war at home on workers and people of
The Detroit March Against Racism and War stepped off from Zussman Park on
Davison Avenue, in the heart of the city’s economically devastated Black
community, taking a two-mile route through block after block of what used to be
a thriving section of Detroit. Among occupied homes and buildings were dozens
of burned-out and abandoned structures, dozens of businesses shuttered, vacant
lots and homes with foreclosure notices posted out front.
WW photo: John Catalinotto
Marchers with banners and signs, as well as a car caravan, chanted loudly
against the war and for jobs and health care here at home. People came outside
to see the march pass by, eagerly took literature, and many drivers honked
their car horns in support.
At a rally at the historic New Bethel Baptist Church, speakers included
Minister Malik Shabazz of New Black Panther Party and New Marcus Garvey
Movement; Melissa from SDS at Wayne State University; Debbie Johnson of the
Detroit Action Network For Reproductive Rights (DANFORR); Rosendo Delgado of
Latinos Unidos of Michigan; and Jerry Goldberg, progressive attorney and MECAWI
activist. The rally was chaired by MECAWI leader Abayomi Azikwe.
UFPJ estimates that 30,000 marched in Chicago, the largest
protest there since the invasion. Dante Strobino of FIST reports that youth and
students made up the largest contingent, coming from dozens of Midwest campuses
and including CAN, SDS, FIST and others. United Electrical Radio and Machine
Workers of America (UE), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the
Teamsters and others made up a labor contingent.
From Jonesborough in the northeast corner of Tennessee, Dianne
Mathiowetz reports that several hundred people, including many
youths—with a big contingent from the University of Tennessee, and
another block of older people in their 60s and 70s—made up the
protesters. An International Action Center (IAC) contingent carried a banner
reading “Troops out of Iraq now, no war on Iran.”
State police insisted on searching everyone entering the downtown park, using a
metal detector and going through bags. Counter-protesters from “Rolling
Thunder” drove around town on their motorcycles and trucks; 20 or so
stood across from the park on the street and hollered at the protesters to
“leave Jonesborough,” although many Jonesborough residents also
participated in the anti-war action.
FIST organizer Larry Hales reports that 1,500 people in Orlando,
Fla., demonstrated and most finished the march despite a tropical
downpour. A Green Party member spoke about the Cuban Five political prisoners
and an IVAW speaker raised Afghanistan. The rest of the talks focused on ending
the war in Iraq.
ANSWER and UFPJ organizers estimate 15,000 marched in Los
Angeles. John Parker reports that many participants carried TONC
placards that read, “From Iraq to New Orleans to Jena, from Palestine to
the Mexican border—Stop the war at home and abroad.” Marching with
the TONC contingent were FIST and the FMLN as well as SEIU Local 721
representatives from the Latino and African American Caucus and members of the
March 25 Coalition and IAC, all sharing chants with an Asian community
contingent that included BAYAN-USA.
From San Francisco, Judy Greenspan reports that thousands of
youth, students, workers and other anti-war activists took to the downtown
streets of this city to demand “No More War in Iraq.” The rally and
march from Civic Center to Dolores Park included a dramatic
“die-in” on Market Street.
Several spirited feeder marches, including a large labor contingent, filled the
Civic Center plaza. Speakers included Malik Rahim of Common Ground, who
traveled to the demonstration with a group of Katrina survivors; Dennis Banks
of the American Indian Movement; and Richard Brown of the San Francisco 8, a
group of Black activists and leaders who were just recently framed up on
conspiracy charges of killing a local cop back in 1971.
Rahim announced plans to travel to San Diego after the demonstration to deliver
thousands of hygiene packets to people made homeless by the wildfires that have
raged through southern California.
Tens of thousands braved heavy rains in New York to march from
the area north of Union Square Park south on Broadway to Foley Square. Many
labor contingents, including a large group from the Professional Staff Congress
at the CUNY schools, filled the first part of the march. Students and youth
made up another large section.
From Boston, Gerry Scoppettuolo reports that 10,000 people
marched through the downtown streets. City Councillor Felix Arroyo and author
Howard Zinn were among those delivering speeches at Boston Common. The Boston
School Bus Drivers, District 1199/SEIU and UE unions had major contingents at
Pan-Canadian protest focuses on Afghanistan
G. Dunkel writes that Canadians in over 32 cities—from St.
John’s in Newfoundland to Montreal in Quebec
and Toronto in Ontario to Vancouver in
British Columbia—protested Oct. 27 against Canada’s involvement in
Afghanistan. There was even a protest in Calgary, Alberta, the hometown of
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative, who has announced that Canada
will maintain its troops in Afghanistan until 2011.
Two opposition parties, the Liberals and the Bloc Québecois, support a
2009 pullout, while the New Democratic Party is demanding an immediate
departure. Public opinion polls show that a strong majority of Canadians in
every province want Canadian troops out of Afghanistan.
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