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September 24: Largest Protest Since the Beginning of the Iraq War
In the largest U.S. protest since the beginning of the Iraq war, 200,000 people took to the streets of Washington, DC on September 24 to demand an end to the war and the safe return of U.S. troops.
There were also four days of numerous colorful and diverse events that included guerrilla theater, rallies, an Operation Ceasefire concert, a peace and justice festival, congressional visits, a tribunal on Haiti, an Interfaith Religious service, direct action, and civil disobedience in front of the White House where 370 were arrested, including Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan. Sheehan captured the medias attention in August when she set up Camp Casey outside President Bushs Crawford, Texas ranch demanding to know why the U.S. was at war with Iraq. Named after her son who was killed in Iraq, Camp Casey helped rejuvenate an antiwar movement experiencing growing pains.
The antiwar events occurred at the same time as the annual meetings
of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Global justice
activists used this overlap to point out the connections between
the Iraq War, U.S. imperialism, and economic globalization. On September
22, the DC-based Mobilization for Global Justice staged guerrilla
theater in front of the World Bank. The media stunt enacted the
wedding of the World Bank to the Pentagon, with World Bank President
and Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz (Church of Market Fundamentalism)
presiding over the ceremony.
Another item on the World Bank agenda was global warming. This led to a call for global warming activists to converge at Saturdays march to draw the connections between the Iraq war for oil, the World Bank, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Climatologists overwhelmingly agree warmer Gulf waters, the result of global warming, significantly strengthened these hurricanes. The World Bank has helped exacerbate global warming by investing over $28 billion in fossil fuels since 1992. Another link between the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina was the accusation that the lack of National Guardspeople and their equipmentdeployed to Iraqwas part of the reason for the disastrously slow response to the hurricane victims.
While the major antiwar rally was taking place at the Ellipse Saturday, a smaller 3,000 person global justice rally organized by the Mobilization for Global Justice was held at Dupont Circle. Speakers at the global justice rally included South African anti-apartheid activist and poet Dennis Brutus, as well as global justice activists from the Dominican Republic, India, and around the world, who made the connections between military and economic domination and ecological destruction. The global justice rally culminated with an un-permitted feeder march with the chants of Whose streets? Our streets, passing the World Bank before it joined the anti-war march.
The major antiwar rally included such speakers as the Reverend Jesse
Jackson, Cindy Sheehan, South African anti-privatization activist
Virginia Setshedi, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, among many
others. The crowd was energized with chants including, Bring
the troops home now and Free Free Palestine. Afterwards
hundreds of thousands took to the streets. In other cities across
the U.S., as well as in London and Rome, thousands of people came
out against the war in solidarity with the Washington, DC march
Following the march, participants gathered on the Mall adjacent to the Washington Monument for the Operation Ceasefire free concert featuring such performers as Joan Baez who moved the crowd with her rendition of Bob Dylans A Hard Rains A Gonna Fall. Steve Earle and dozens more also performed. Next to Operation Ceasefire, a peace and justice festival brought antiwar, global justice, and global warming organizations together under circus tents to distribute information, buttons, and T-shirts to participants. Also present were a giant inflatable Pinocchio George Bush and a huge earth being sucked dry by a mosquito, with a sign on it pointing out the rise in deadly diseases transmitted by mosquitoes that is predicted to accompany the global warming trend.
The following day affinity groups blockaded intersections and traffic around a hotel where World Bank and IMF delegates were staying, effectively delaying the start of their meetings for over 30 minutes. While the action was small, it was notable as the first direct action to blockade the World Bank and IMF meetings in DC since the massive A-16 (April 16) protests of 2000 where tens of thousands of activists converged on the city to block strategic intersections and impede the movement of delegates.
On Monday, September 26, thousands of antiwar protesters remaining
in DC marched to Lafayette Park across from the White House for
mass non-violent civil disobedience. In the symbolic protest, 370
people sat down on the sidewalk in front of the White House in protest
of the Iraq War, refused police orders to move, and were arrested.
Among those arrested were members of United for Peace and Justice
and Code Pink, and Cindy Sheehan.
The mass action began with Sheehan approaching the guard shack at the entrance to the White House where she demanded once more to have a meeting with the president. When she was refused, she and her supporters marched 50 yards or so to the front of the White House. There she attached a photo of her son Casey to the White House gates. She spent a few moments with the photo, tenderly touching it before turning around to stage a sit in on the sidewalk. The police signaled their intention to make arrests by pushing all non-arrestees behind a metal barricade and bringing in paddy wagons to block the view of onlookers. This sent the media into a flurry of competition for the best view of the impending arrest of Sheehan, who was the first to be carried off.
The area across from the White House was jammed with diverse supporters of the mass civil disobedience. From Breasts Not Bombs and anti-depleted uranium activists to Buddhist Monks, the protest took on an empowered atmosphere. One woman, however, broke down, grief stricken over the war, and was comforted by others.
Earlier in the day, in a separate pre-dawn civil disobedience action,
41 people were arrested at a pedestrian entrance to the Pentagon.
After arrestees were released some showed up later at the White
House event where a few were arrested for the second time that day.
Also on Monday, more than 800 people visited over 300 Congressional
offices in a Lobby Day organized by UFPJ.
Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator for UFPJ, stated after the DC protests, The September mobilization sent a strong message to policymakers and helped take this movement into a new phase of mass action, using diverse tactics, as we plan for the work still to be done to end the war and bring our troops home.
Orin Langelle and Anne Petermann are photojournalists and activists with the Global Justice Ecology Project.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.