CT Organizing for March 18 Protests

by Christine Marie / March 2006 issue of Socialist Action newspaper

HARTFORD—Over 60 organizations and 800 individuals in Connecticut have signed a call for a Third Anniversary march against the war to be held in New Haven on March 18 and demanding “Bring the Troops Home Now! Money for Reconstruction of the Gulf Coast, Not War!”

On Saturday and Sunday early afternoons, antiwar campaigners in bilingual teams are roving door-to-door along the march route, and in the nearby towns of Bridgeport, Danbury, and Manchester. After knocking on doors, activists then gather at nearby homes and begin the week’s phone banking.

All of this activity is the fruit of the efforts of Connecticut United for Peace (CTUP) to involve as many activists as possible in every stage of the planning for the march.

The demonstration was initially called out of the one person, one vote plenary at a November state antiwar conference and finessed at a January planning meeting attended by over 100 people. As a result, hundreds of activists feel a great deal of ownership of this demonstration and are responding with incredible contributions of time and enthusiasm.

Connecticut has been the site of repeated organizing attempts by right-wing vigilante groups who want to deputize cops to function as la migra and seal the border with Mexico. Immigration-rights activists have been responding to every public meeting called by these anti-immigrant forces with educational pickets and counter-mobilizations.

At a recent meeting in Danbury, one of these rightists proclaimed, “Every single one of these illegals could be a vicious criminal or a terrorist.” The conflation of undocumented workers with terrorism has become a staple of the right-wing propaganda arsenal and, thus, the immigrant community in Connecticut is acutely aware of the relationship between the government’s War on Terror and the war on them.

All this is compounded by the feeling that Latino high school students and their families are basically under attack, due in great measure to the highly intrusive methods employed by the military recruiters in Connecticut schools. For these reasons, Latinos Against the War, Unidad Latina en Accion, and the Regional Coalition on Immigration contributed to shaping the subordinate demands of the march to call specifically for a defense of the civil liberties of
“Arab-Americans, Muslims, and immigrants.”

The march will kick off from the center of the Latino community of Fair Haven and bring community residents to the rally on the New Haven Green, the heart of the Yale community. The involvement of the young Latino immigrant rights organizers has, in turn, deeply affected several local unions with significant immigrant memberships, and several union leaders have
moved to assign organizers to build membership participation in the demonstration.

Connecticut mosques have responded to the demonstration call and the civil liberties demand with similar enthusiasm. As in other areas of the country with significant Muslim populations, congregations have been subjected to illegal surveillance, interrogations, and false arrests, and made to feel especially vulnerable since 9/11.

Five mosques, the Muslim Association of Connecticut, and the state chapter of the Committee on American Islamic Relations have endorsed the march, and organizers expect a contingent of more than 500 to march from this community.

Much of the outreach to local imams was undertaken by the state Palestine American Congress, an organization of about 200 families whose activists have been stalwarts in building the demonstration.

The response from those most victimized domestically by the so-called War on Terror has energized almost everyone aware of the march and contributed to CTUP’s ability to put together a broad speakers’ platform. On March 18 rally-goers will hear the Reverend Alvin
Johnson of the Bethel AME church, Peter Knowlton of US Labor Against War and United Electrical Workers District 2, Kathleen Sloan of Connecticut National Organization for Women, State Rep. Bill Dyson, a Bridgeport librarian involved in that profession’s federal suit against the Patriot Act, and many others.

The efforts of antiwar organizers to show solidarity at the picket lines at Sikorsky Helicopter has convinced a striking Teamster to appear on the platform to talk about the manner in which the war is being used to lower worker benefits despite the company’s super profiteering from military orders. For more information on the details of the march, visit http://www.ctunitedforpeace.org/

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