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Across U.S. and world, protests demand


Published Feb 8, 2012 8:10 PM

New Yorkers take to streets Feb. 4 against war on Iran.
WW photo: Brenda Ryan

Many anti-war organizations across the United States and in several other countries came together on Feb. 4 to protest the rising crescendo of threats against Iran. In more than 30 U.S. states and 80 cities, large and small, groups joined forces to raise four key demands: "No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations!"

San Francisco
WW photo: Bill Bowers

Groups participating included the United National Antiwar Coalition, International Action Center, No War on Iran, Solidarity with Iran (SI) Campaign, StopWarOnIranCampaign.org, American Iranian Friendship Committee, Answer and World Can’t Wait.

The corporate media had been reporting for weeks that the Israeli regime was weighing an attack on Iran aimed at dismantling its nuclear program. Yet even former U.S. intelligence officers point out that Iran's nuclear development is entirely peaceful; it is not building any nuclear weapons. (See "Divining the Truth About Iran" by Ray McGovern, commondreams.org, Feb. 2)

WW photo: StevanKirschbaum

Totally unsubstantiated claims of Iran being a nuclear danger form the basis on which Israel, which itself has a large nuclear arsenal and has been armed and financed by the U.S., has been publicly claiming its right to launch a military attack on Iran.

The process had already begun in the major corporate media to give credibility to Israel's charges and soften up public opinion to accept such a criminal act, which would unleash yet another devastating war in this oil-rich region so coveted by imperialism.

A large crowd marched in New York from Times Square to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and then to the Israeli Consulate. The French press agency AFP estimated the protest at 500, with people from many different organizations. Beside the four main demands opposing any foreign intervention, many placards and handmade signs also fingered Wall Street and the banks as the real enemies of the people here, not Iran.

WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer

Kazem Azim, of Solidarity with Iran (SI) Campaign, told Workers World that the most important issue was the thousands of targeted assassinations that have taken place in recent years of Iranian scientists, state representatives and even parliament ministers, for which the Iranian people blame Israeli and U.S. agents.

“This has united the Iranian people,” Azim said, “against foreign intervention and war. The war has already started because sanctions are an act of war. Even many of those who have opposed the Iranian government are now seeing that their main enemy is U.S. imperialism.”

In Los Angeles, some 200 people rallied at the city's busiest intersection by the Wilshire Federal Building. Speakers included representatives from the Union of Progressive Iranians, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, the Filipino group BAYAN-USA, the Latino/a group ALBA-USA, Bail Out the People Movement, Workers World Party, Southern California Immigration Coalition and the International Action Center. People who had been at an Answer event several blocks away also joined the main rally.

Buffalo, N.Y.
WW photo: Ellie Dorritie

A protest in Buffalo, N.Y., was held downtown at Niagara Square, where Occupy Buffalo had an encampment before being evicted by police. Occupy returned to the square as an endorser of the Iran demonstration, carrying signs reading “This is SO not over.” Other endorsers included the International Action Center, Burning Books, Western New York Peace Center and WNY Drilling Defense, an anti-fracking group that opposes powerful U.S. oil and gas corporations that pollute here and push for wars abroad. The crowd strongly supported calls for U.S. and Israel hands off Syria as well as Iran and respect for the sovereignty of nations.

In Milwaukee, dozens of protesters from labor, student and community organizations participated in a press conference to say “No War on Iran!” They then marched, chanting “Jobs, not war,” through neighborhoods where unemployment is high. Other protests in Wisconsin took place in Green Bay, where protesters marched from an intersection adjacent to Lambeau Field to a nearby Army recruiting station; in Madison on the state Capitol steps; and in Racine.

Los Angeles
Photo: Dominic Greco

About 150 people rallied at Federal Plaza in Chicago's Loop and then marched through the State Street shopping district. Progressive members of Chicago's Iranian community voiced their opposition to U.S. imperialism's planned genocidal war against their country. Many people from Occupy Chicago also came to add their voices.

More than 100 people occupied the four corners of the intersection outside CNN in downtown Atlanta, chanting their opposition to U.S. bellicose policies toward Iran and holding banners and signs declaring "No war, no intervention, no sanctions and no assassinations." The protest was covered by all four local television stations, the Associated Press and other media. The crowd was a mix of Occupy Atlanta youth, members of the Iranian community and anti-war, anti-imperialist activists from Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition/Atlanta, the International Action Center, Women’s Action for New Directions and other organizations. Fliers disputing the lies regarding Iran's nuclear energy program were distributed to pedestrians.

In Boston, over 300 marched through downtown to the Israeli Consulate. Initiated by Occupy Boston Action for Peace Working Group, there were speakers from Boston UNAC, Vets for Peace, the International Action Center, the Boston School Bus Drivers union, the Women's Fightback Network, United for Justice with Peace, Dorcester Peace Action, and many others. Sahin, a gay Iranian-American, said don’t be fooled into believing the U.S. military could in any way make life better for gay Iranians. Signs from Occupy 4 Jobs and Workers World Party read: "I need a job, not war on Iran" and "War makes the 1% richer and the 99% poorer."

In San Francisco, some 600 Bay Area activists from a broad coalition of anti-intervention, progressive and community organizations marched to demand “No war on Iran, No sanctions!” A rally at the busy intersection of Powell and Market featured anti-Vietnam War whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg and Iraq War anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan. Ellsberg said a recent Israeli poll showed that 43 percent of the population there is against military intervention in Iran. A spirited contingent of Filipino activists was the highlight of the march to the Civic Center, where another rally was held. A speaker from Occupy San Francisco said the Occupy movement was fully opposed to U.S. intervention in Iran or anywhere in the world.

Members of the Jersey City Peace Movement, NJ Action 21, Occupy Jersey City and Veterans for Peace marched around the Central Avenue business district and conducted mic checks in front of a large supermarket. Everyone encountered supported the "No war with Iran" demands.

Among other cities with protests were Albany, N.Y.; Raleigh, N.C.; ­Washington, D.C.; Tampa, Fla.; as well as ­Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, ­Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, Tucson, ­Phoenix, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Honolulu.

The demonstrations were pulled together on only two weeks' notice, but they inspired similar protests in other countries, including one by the Movement against War and Occupation in Vancouver, Canada; another in Calgary, Canada; demonstrations in Bangladesh, India, Britain, Ireland and Norway; and a symbolic protest by U.S. citizens living in Italy.

Thanks to Sara Flounders, John Parker, Ellie Dorritie, Bryan G. Pfeifer, Erich Struch, Dianne Mathiowetz, Frank Neisser, Judy Greenspan and Michael Kramer for information contained in this roundup. More information can be found at www.iacenter.org.