Thousands March Nationwide Against US War on Iraq

A couple of days before Congress began discussing the administration’s war bill, tens of thousands of antiwar protesters made their views known in the streets. On Oct. 6, marches and rallies took place around the United States under the slogan, “Not in Our Name.”

In the largest action on Oct. 6, a crowd estimated at from 20,000 to 45,000 filled Sheep Meadow in New York City’s Central Park. TheNew York Times, unfortunately, did not see fit to mention the protest in the next day’s edition.

In Los Angeles, over 10,000 people joined the largest antiwar protest in that city since the Vietnam War. The protesters marched from the federal building in Westwood, down Wiltshire Blvd. to the headquarters of the national guard.

In Portland, Ore., in the largest antiwar action seen there in years, some 6000 marched through downtown to the federal building on Oct. 5. The demonstration was given a boost when the daily Oregonian featured preparations for it on its front page the day before. Also on Oct. 5, 1000 marched in Eugene and 600 in Corvalis, Ore.

In San Francisco, 8000 (according to the daily papers) packed into Union Square, for a rally in the heart of the city’s downtown hotel and shopping district. Singer Bonnie Raight was among the speakers, along with other popular music personalities.

The demonstration got fair publicity in the Bay Area media, including a front-page article in the local-news section of the main daily paper, theSan Francisco Chronicle.

The Chronicle article quoted a representative of the Arab Antidiscrimination League as saying: “This is the beginning of a solid anti-war movement.”

He went on to say: “It]s high time to realize that exercising your right to freedom of expression does not make you un-American.”

This rally came on the heels of a march the week before, Sept. 28, in which some 4000 took part, and a rally/musical concert in Golden Gate Park, hosted by rap singer Michael Franti a few weeks earlier, which about 7000 attended.

In Washington, D.C., some 10,000 marched against a new Iraq war and against World-Bank-IMF policies. The Sunday, Sept. 29, march took place despite the attempts of the police to discourage demonstrations through the “preemptive” arrest of about 650 peaceful anti-IMF protesters two days earlier.

The Washington action marked the convergence of many protests focused by the annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank. The issues raised included funding for AIDS, sweatshops, and regressive economic policies pushed by the international financial institutions. Demonstrators came from many poor countries, from Brazil to Tanzania, to denounce policies that are depriving millions of people of their livelihoods and even their lives.

Two thousand antiwar protesters marched in late September to the federal building in downtown Denver. And demonstrations also occurred in other major cities, such as Chicago, as well as many smaller cities and communities.

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In these momentarily difficult times, tragically a small layer of antiwar personalities and a few well-meaning organizations have been drawn into the reactionary “right-left coalition” that is planning a February 19 “Rage Against the War Machine” Washington. D.C. demonstration. In the unlikely event that this effort meets with even a modicum of success, it will represent a serious defeat for antiwar, anti-racist, anti-sexist, LGBTQI and social justice activists as well as all groups that have been fighting against the inherent horrors of the capitalist system for a lifetime.