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Attack on Libya draws protests in U.S.

Published Mar 24, 2011 9:52 PM

New York, March 21.
WW photo: John Catalinotto

Even before the first U.S. bombs rained down on Libya, protesters across the U.S. stood up to voice their opposition to yet another U.S. war for oil. These protests continue.

The most significant was in Madison, Wis., where an anti-war march and rally were co-sponsored by the Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and other labor organizations. IVAW members led the march, with thousands of students and workers following behind.

Firefighters Local 311 from Madison joined the ranks for a march around the Capitol. Current Wisconsin AFL-CIO president, Phil Neuenfeldt, and former president, David Newby, spoke, as did the president of the Machinists Union, Mahlon Mitchell of the Wisconsin Firefighters Association, the Madison mayor, SEIU nurses and others.

Vietnam veteran Will Williams, a member of Veterans for Peace and the Madison Area Peace Coalition, spoke out against the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya from the main stage at the Capitol. Afterwards, he told a reporter, “We’re involved in a war, a war against economic slavery. Taking from people what they have struggled and died for years to get, and it’s all at risk. We need something like the Bonus Army of 1932, where vets will get out in the forefront, and people will follow and go camp out in Washington, D.C., until they change the way they do business with our tax dollars.”

In Detroit on March 11, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice had held a demonstration at the Federal Building calling for an end to the war buildup. Another demonstration was held March 21 in downtown Detroit on the eighth anniversary of the Iraq war that denounced the beginning of the bombing of Libya.

In Atlanta on March 19 nearly 200 people marched through Piedmont Park, led by the Atlanta Sedition Orchestra. Students and youth carried a giant octopus labeled “U.S. war machine,” its tentacles gripping funds for education, health care, housing and jobs. Initiated by the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, several dozen local peace and justice, community and student groups endorsed.

A banner from the International Action Center read, “Not another war for OIL! U.S. hands off Libya.” Other banners supported Pvt. Bradley Manning and called to “Foreclose the war, not people’s homes.”

Around 1,500 people rallied at Lafayette Park in Washington, across from the White House, on March 19 to demand an end to U.S. wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The eighth anniversary of the Iraq War ended with civil disobedience at the White House.

Led by Veterans for Peace, the angry protesters chanted, “From Wisconsin to Iraq, Stand up, fight back!” and “Free Bradley Manning!” Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed the Pentagon Papers, was one of 113 people arrested for chaining themselves to the fence of the White House.

Ana Maria Reichenbach, an activist with Chapel Hill Students for a Democratic Society, said, “When veterans stand up and put their bodies on the line to stop the war, it is really inspiring. It’s time for young people to follow their example and rebuild the anti-war movement.”

March Forward!; Answer Coalition; Iraq Veterans Against the War; Code Pink; Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST); Black is Back Coalition; and many more organizations took part in the demonstration.

Protests on March 19 in San Francisco not only marked the eighth anniversary of the U.S. war against Iraq but also the first day of the new U.S./NATO air attack on the sovereign nation of Libya. Mike Casey, president of UNITE HERE Local 2, the hotel workers’ union currently on strike against major San Francisco hotels, called for labor-community support against the wars and the current attacks against working people.

Demonstrators later marched from Union Square to the West St. Francis Hotel to show support for the striking hotel workers. The demonstration was organized by the March 19th Coalition and endorsed by a broad array of organizations, including the Answer Coalition, the San Francisco Labor Council, the National Council of Arab Americans and the West County Toxics Coalition.

On March 20, thousands demonstrated in Los Angeles to say no to war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. The demonstration was called by the Answer Coalition. Libya was clearly on the minds of everyone there and news of the criminal attack electrified the demonstration. The announcement of yet another imperialist war was booed and jeered as the words crawled across an electronic sign on CNN’s L.A. office.

The International Action Center distributed a statement denouncing the attack on Libya. The next day the IAC held an emergency demonstration at the Westwood Federal Building to demand an end to U.S., French and British bombing of Libya. Members of BAYAN-USA, the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party — GC, Unión del Barrio and Anti-Racist Action also participated. The action was covered by ABC, Fox, Telemundo and Univisión.

In Philadelphia on March 21 protesters gathered outside City Hall to denounce the U.S./NATO air attacks on Libya and to demand money for jobs, not wars. Signs that read, “Not another U.S. war for oil” and “Stop U.S. attacks on Arab and African people,” caused many passersby to stop, talk and ask for fliers. Organized by the Philadelphia Against War coalition, the protest was endorsed by the Brandywine Peace Community and the International Action Center.

In St. Paul, Minn., hundreds marched and rallied on March 19 chanting, “Bring the troops home! Out of Iraq and Afghanistan!” and “Do not expand wars against Libya!” Signs read, “Opposing war is not a crime,” referring to FBI raids on homes of anti-war and solidarity activists in the fall of 2010.

In nearby Minneapolis, demonstrators gathered on March 21 for an emergency protest to say no to U.S. war in Libya. The event was endorsed by Women Against Military Madness, the Anti-War Committee and others.

Even before the U.S. fired a single rocket at Libya, people gathered in downtown Phoenix on March 19 to say that the U.S. and the world do not need another war.

In New York City the International Action Center held a picket line March 21 in the Times Square area to protest the U.S.-French-British bombing of Libya. An earlier protest was held March 18 right after a U.N. Security Council resolution pushed by the U.S., France and Britain authorized military action against Libya. Near New York’s Federal Plaza, it was called by the United Antiwar Coalition.

Contributing writers: John Catalinotto, Judy Greenspan, Dianne Mathiowetz, John Parker, Bryan G. Pfeifer, Scott Scheffer and Scott Williams.