March AntiWar Action Reports from Hundreds of Cities

March 24th, 2005 - by admin – 2005-03-24 23:40:22

The big business mass media suppressed or downplayed coverage of the March 19 antiwar protests that took place in more than 800 cities and towns throughout the United States. Many of these demonstrations were the largest in that local area in some time.

Every progressive movement is confronted with the problem that the mainstream media represents the political establishment of society. We have to count on ourselves to spread the word — and that’s just what the movement is doing.

More than 150 cities have sent in reports and photographs so that they can be circulated by others. The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition is bundling these reports so that they can receive massive circulation on the internet and elsewhere.

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Because of the large number of reports, it is not possible to include them all in one email. All of the reports, listed in alphabetical order by state, can be found on the March 19 reports section of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition website, which also includes a photo album.

Below is a sampling of the March 19/20 reports

• San Francisco, California
Trent Willis, President of ILWU Local 10:
“When I looked back from near the front of the march, I couldn’t see the end. It looked like 30,000 people or more from the stage in Civic Center. I was very pleased with the march, especially with the rain and other obstacles.”

In San Francisco, more than 25,000 people marched and rallied. The crowd in San Francisco swelled as the rain subsided in the late morning. It took more than 45 minutes for the entire demonstration, marching on wide streets, to enter the Civic Center Plaza.

The S.F. march included contingents from the labor movement, Glide Memorial Church, the Palestinian and Arab American community, students, immigrant rights movement and many other organizations and communities.

ILWU Local 10, the dockworkers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in the Bay Area, voted to hold their stop-work meeting on March 19, shutting down Bay Area ports for the day. Lo. 10 also voted to participate fully in the March 19 demonstration in San Francisco, and the local’s famed Drill Team led a large labor contingent in the march.

“Our International union voted at the 2003 convention to oppose the war and occupation on the motion of Local142 Hawaii,” said Local 10 President Trent Willis, “in keeping with our union’s ten guiding principles and the ILWU’s tradition which includes opposing wars like those in Korea, Vietnam and now the Iraq war. Local 10 was also one of the first to come out against the war in 2002.”

Willis, who was one of the featured speakers at the Civic Center rally, said that the number of people who turned out exceeded his expectations. “When I looked back from near the front of the march, I couldn’t see the end. It looked like 30,000 people or more from the stage in Civic Center. I was very pleased with the march, especially with the rain and other obstacles.”

Among the other speakers were: Rev. Cecil Williams, Glide Memorial Church; Elias Rashmawi, National Council of Arab Americans; Zeina Zaatari & Eyad Kishawi, Free Palestine Alliance; Nazila Bargshady, Silvia Tello & Richard Becker, ANSWER Coalition; S.F. Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Ross Mirkarimi; Janine Antoine, Bay Area Natives for Peace & Vanguard Foundation; Tim Paulson-Executive Director and Walter Johnson-Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus, San Francisco Labor Council; Barbara Lubin, Middle East Children’s Alliance; Mario Santos, Alliance for Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines; Maurice Campbell, Community First Coalition; Kawal Ulanday, BAYAN-USA; Alicia Jrapko, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five; State Assemblyperson Mark Leno; Gulf War conscientious objector Aimee Allison; and Pierre Labossiere, Haiti Action Committee.

• Los Angeles, California
Arturo Garcia, director of the Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines:
“We were wet because it rained, but it did not dampen the spirit and militancy of the protesters. The Filipino presence at March 19 was very large because it is the second front of the so-called ‘war on terror.’ As part of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, we were happy to participate in and build the demonstration because we understand the importance of uniting to struggle against U.S. imperialism.”

In Los Angeles, 20,000 protesters marched through Hollywood despite the morning rain, chanting “End the Occupation – Bring the Troops Home Now!” and holding anti-war signs and banners high. The march included contingents from the labor movement, youth and students, the Palestinian and Arab American community, the Filipino community, Cuba and the Cuban Five, the immigrant rights movement, the women’s equality movement, the movement to Save King Drew hospital, and many other organizations and communities.

Many speakers from all sectors of Los Angeles spoke, including Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, California State Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, Margaret Prescod of Global Women’s Strike, same-sex marriage rights activist Robin Tyler, Richard Moreno of Global Resistance Network, Michael Shahin of Free Palestine Alliance, and more.

• New York City, New York
Brenda Stokely, President of AFSCME District Council 1707 and Co-Convener of New York City Labor Against the War:
“It is very important that the demonstration began in Harlem. Not only because the people of Harlem, and especially its young people, have had rain on them the costs of militarism, war and racism. Harlem is also important as a symbol of resistance. Every nationality in New York was represented in the march from Marcus Garvey Park to Central Park.”

The Troops Out Now Coalition reports that more than 15,000 marched from Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem to Central Park, where thousands were already gathered.

Excerpted from report:
“As they marched through Harlem, they were greeted by cheers and applause from the community. People came out of stores and apartments to join the march. Others hung out of their windows and flashed the peace sign or raised their fist.

“Speakers at the Central Park Rally included Representative Charles Rangel, New York City Council Members Margarita Lopez and Charles Barron, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and attorney Lynne Stewart.

“After the Central Park Rally, thousands marched to the Upper East Side mansion of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the slogan, ‘Fund Cities, Not War!'”

Organizers with the Troops Out Now Coalition announced a May 1 rally in New York City to demand “Jobs, Not War! Bring the Troops Home Now!”

• Fayetteville, North Carolina
David Cline, President of Veterans for Peace and a National Coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War:
“The Fayetteville demonstration represented veterans taking the lead in that community. We have to build a broad united front of all the oppressed peoples in this country, the people who are effected by the war. Veterans are stepping up to the plate – the veterans from the past have been steeping up for awhile and now we have the younger brothers and sisters coming home and stepping up.”

North Carolina Peace & Justice Coalition
Excerpted from the North Carolina Peace and Justice Coalition:

“On the Second Anniversary of the War and Occupation of Iraq, over 4,000 people marched and rallied in Fayetteville, NC [home of Fort Bragg, 82nd Airborne, Special Forces], to Show Real Support for the Troops: Bring Them Home Now! This was the largest anti-war demonstration in Fayetteville’s history, and signifies a historic turning point for the anti-war movement, when military families, veterans and soldiers take the lead in calling for an end to the Occupation in Iraq.

“People came from all over: Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Minnesota, DC, Hawaii, New York. At least 20 active duty GIs defied orders from Ft Bragg to come to listen.

“The NC Peace & Justice Coalition joined with Military Families Speak Out, Veterans For Peace, Fayetteville Peace with Justice, Quaker House, Bring Them Home Now, North Carolina Council of Churches, and United for Peace and Justice as the core sponsors for the March 19 mobilization to Fayetteville. Busloads of people from across the South poured into Fayetteville. We delivered a compelling and powerful message against the continuation of the war – That’s REAL support for the troops.”

• Chicago, Illinois
From a speech by Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia at the March 19 rally in Chicago:
“They tell us that this is a war for democracy, but that is a joke because George Bush came to power by stopping democracy at home, denying the opportunity to vote to Blacks and Latinos in Florida. In countries like Haiti they arrested President Aristide and forced him at gunpoint to leave his own country. While they purport to cherish democracy, they really have a disdain for it.”

Downtown Chicago from Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile to the heart of the Loop was an armed camp filled with State, County and City cops in full riot gear. There were 1,600 to 2,000 police to prevent a peaceful protest from being seen on the streets where people shopped on a Saturday afternoon. Instead the armed thugs of the Democratic Governor and the Democratic Mayor tried to silence protests against the Bush war machine. Permits had been denied by the city for a peaceful march and a federal judge backed the denial. Defying threats of arrests and worse, thousands of protesters turned out to march. It was hard to get an accurate picture of the size of the crowd due to the disorganizing tactics of the police, but estimates ranged from 3-5,000. It was a very young crowd.

A permitted rally at Chicago’s Federal Plaza was surrounded on all sides by the riot geared cops preventing access from several directions and making everything very difficult. The speakers list was headed up by Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Fred Hampton Jr., whose father was murdered by the federal and local police, spoke on behalf of Aaron Patterson, a political prisoner. Juan Torres, whose son was killed in Afghanistan, spoke out against the U. S. war, as did Leila Lipscomb who lost her son in Iraq. Maria Salgado, a student at Senn High School, told of the struggle the students, teachers and community have waged to keep the federal and city governments from turning part of their school in to a U.S. Navy training academy. Aiyinde and Aisa Jean Baptise spoke of the role of the U.S. in Haiti and Africa; and Gustavo Vasquez of the Bolivarian Circle spoke of U.S. imperialism’s attacks on the people of Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia and Latin America. Speakers from Iraq, Iran and elsewhere joined veterans and community activists in a program chaired by a Palestinian woman and man.

The event was organized by the Chicago March 19 Action Coalition.

• New Paltz, New York
Excerpted from the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter:
“A crowd of 1,700 people – a large proportion of them youth – took part in an antiwar demonstration in the upstate village of New Paltz March 19 to commemorate the second anniversary of the unjust, illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

“Some 65 organizations from seven counties participated in the ad hoc March 19 coalition that sponsored a march and rally in Hasbrouck Park. The coalition was initiated by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter (where a full account of the events will be carried in its next issue.)

“The rally was followed by a colorful march of 1,200 demonstrators through village streets, lead by a marching band. Chants such as “Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay, Bush and Cheney Go Away!” and the old favorite, “What do we want? PEACE. When do we want it? NOW,” provided the sound when the band rested.

“Local news coverage of the event was unusually robust.

“The press accounts estimated the crowd as “hundreds and hundreds,” but the 1,700 estimate by the organizers is correct. One veteran of many such events climbed to the top of playground monkey bars nears the stage and she calculated the size sector by sector to arrive at this figure. Meanwhile, another activist slowly walked through the crowd from end to end and independently arrived at the same conclusion.”

• Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham had two peace actions: an outdoor rally sponsored by the Birmingham Peace Project and Pax Christi in Five Points South featuring poetry from community poets, actors, special ed students and activists structured around the subject: “You Can’t Win a War Against Yourself.” The keynote speaker was Priscilla Andrews, state chair of Military Families Speak Out. Around 125 people attended.

A follow-up event took place at Highland Coffee Company where actor/singers from The Politically Incorrect Cabaret presented “Brecht on War,” an hour of antiwar poetry and song with texts by playwright/poet Bertolt Brecht and composers Hanns Eisler and Kurt Weill.

• Mobile, Alabama
From Citizens for Peace in Mobile, Alabama:
At the announced time for the start of Mobile’s demo at a midtown park on Saturday about half a dozen deflated folks had gathered. We speculated that this meager band reflected the decision by many leading liberals to quietly go AWOL from the anti-war camp. But gradually more came.

The sign-up sheet contains many new names, several of them young, perhaps indicating the arrival of the early breezes of a following draft. And a couple of Protestant clergy appeared for probably the first time since Citizens for Peace began holding rallies at this site over two years ago. (Some Catholic nuns have routinely come, though rarely–if ever–any priests.)

The most present at any one time during the two-hour vigil was about 30, who held posters up to the traffic on two major streets that pass the park. About 40 or 50 different people participated at some time during the afternoon. This was comparable to the turn out on inauguration day in January, when more people with an explicitly Democratic Party allegiance came to mourn or protest W’s second term. On Saturday one new participant requested a sign saying Republicans Against the War, and we dashed one off on the spot for him.

As usual, the majority of drivers in passing cars pretended we were invisible and concentrated on staring straight ahead as they passed (and even while trapped right in front of us by red lights) But among those who acknowledged our existence far more were supportive than opposed, as before. And the proportion among all passing vehicles willing to honk or wave their support was highest ever. Everybody present who had attended previous demonstrations at the park agreed about this.

• Phoenix, Arizona
Our group was small in comparison to many around the country but it was the largest we have ever had. We represent Grandmothers for Peace International in Phoenix AZ. On Saturday we had a great group of grandmothers, grandfathers, children and grandchildren.

It was rainy and chilly but that did not deter our group from coming out to show their support for ending the war. We also had great support from people driving by who honked and waved and gave us thumbs up and the peace sign. Of course we also had the disgruntled who wanted us to leave the country. But their numbers were small compared to the support. It was amazing!

• Tucson, Arizona
About 350 people gathered at 10AM in Catalina Park in the drizzle (after a huge thunderstorm the hour before) to hear the Raging Grannies, several speakers, and a folksinger Then the weather cleared and the crowd continued the anti-war protest in a colorful and loud Peace March down the street from near downtown/4th Ave., through the University of Arizona Campus, past the ROTC Building, and finally down Speedway where heavy Saturday morning traffic honked and cheered us on for about a mile until we reached the Recruiters’ Center where we held signs and chanted up and down both sides of the street for another hour or so until 1PM.

The response from the public was tremendous for the most part with the inevitable few uglies thrown in for spice.

700 people protested when Bush was in Tucson on Monday, March 21 at 10AM at the Tucson Community Center to fearmonger about Social Security. The protest was held by all local progressives and Democrats.

• Chico, California
The Chico Enterprise Record, the main newspaper in Chico, carried a front page article on Sunday covering the March 19 protest. Chico and Redding, CA peace vigils/demonstrations were also covered by several local TV news networks.

• Cloverdale, California
We had 50 wonderful souls who braved the inclement weather and stood outside in the rain, cold, and wind. We marched with banners and signs calling for the end of the war, and for peace, and called out the names of our fallen soldiers from 1-3 pm in the afternoon. Many, many passers-by, in their cars, honked in approval of support.

• Eureka, California
Over 2,000 people marched in pouring rain and gale winds in Eureka this Saturday. It was dangerous to use a microphone so speakers had to raise their voices above the storm. People sang, chanted and danced as they progressed through Eureka to the beat of drums and a marching band. Flags of many countries which had spoken out against the war were on display.

The Times-Standard newspaper reported over 1,000 marchers in our tiny neck of the woods. March organizers estimated somewhere over 2,000 people in a furious downpour and winds which let up briefly while the march itself was on the streets. The people who showed up on such a stormy day were SERIOUS! Most pre- and post-march activities had to be canceled due to weather.

• Fort Bragg / Mendocino Coast, California
There were at least 55 people involved in support of the march in San Francisco on March 19. The weather was not cooperative, but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.

• Fresno, California
The Modesto Peace and Life Center joined the Rally in the Valley in Fresno, CA on March 19th. Forty different organizations helped support the rally. There were about 500 people there. Some of the speakers were a mother of a slain soldier in Iraq from Tracy, CA and a returning Marine. It was good to see so many groups and people from a generally conservative area.

• Gualala, California
A small group of 7 women stood outside the post office in the tiny coastal town of Gualala, CA (pop. 585) with a sign that said, “Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home”. They were harassed by one angry white male in a pickup truck. They were supported by numerous drivers who honked as they passed by the women and their sign.

• Mount Shasta, California
Some 20 Mount Shasta Peace Activists showed up in a steady gentle rain which eventually waned enough to participate without getting too wet or cold. We gathered at Mount Shasta City Plaza at 12 Noon, carrying signs and interacting with the public driving and walking by.

Most (about 70%) were supportive with thumbs up or peace signs extended and there were a few other gestures of disagreement. Our united vigil ended after about an hour and participants departed with a sense of having made a statement against the war.

• Placerville, California
About 20 kids protested along highway 50 in the rain on March 19, 2005. We got our picket signs and as many people as we could and protested.

• Sacramento, California
On the second anniversary of the invasion in Iraq, a group numbering around 50 ignored rain and enjoyed the support of thousands of passers-by at the busy intersection of Fulton and Marconi in Sacramento to protest the war in Iraq.

Organized by Sacramento Peace Action as part of ongoing vigils and protests throughout the city every week, the event was poorly covered by news media. The only TV station was Channel 3 – a print media person didn’t mention his affiliation and had no cameraman.

• San Diego, California
The San Diego’s Union-Tribune on Sunday had a “pointer” to an article covering the rally on Page One, and the story was on Page 14, with a 3-column photo accompanying it.

• San Jose, California
Despite intermittent rain showers, 2,000 people joined a spirited march from the CalTrain station to a rally in Cesar Chavaz Park in San Jose on March 20. The march was led by a militant contingent of youth from BAYAN-USA Northern California. Among the speakers at the rally were Hatam Bazian, a professor from the University of California at Berkeley, who has been targeted by right-wing Zionist forces; Richard Becker, from the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; George Johnson, a Vietnam vet and member of Veterans for Peace; a mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, and representatives from labor and student groups. The march was sponsored by the Peninsula/South Bay Peace Council, a new coalition made up of several dozen peace and social justice organizations.

On Sunday, March 20th, 2,000 people from the Peninsula and the South Bay joined over 800 communities and cities across the nation this weekend to protest this illegal, immoral war and demand peace and an immediate end to the War on Iraq.

It was under the pouring rain in downtown San Jose that everyone shouted, “It can rain, it can pour, but we want an end to this bloody war.” Dennis Kyne, a veteran of Gulf War I, started off the event by singing anti-war songs at the San Jose Diridon Train Station. The march began after over 1,000 more people from all over the Bay Area arrived via the Peace Train at the train station. As they arrived, over 500 young people, organized by Bayan, shouted energetic chants to get everyone fired up.

When we arrived at the War Memorial, more than 2,500 people listened to Nadia McCaffrey speak, who lost her son in the war (her only child). She said, “I am on a mission and I will not stop until we end this war.”

At Cesar Chavez Plaza, Richard Becker from A.N.S.W.E.R., Hatem Bazian from Univ. of California, Larry Siegle from Mountain View Voices for Peace, Samina Faheem from American Muslim Voice, Troy from Silicon Valley Debug, Roshan Pour Abdullah from Iranians for Human Rights, and many others all gave powerful speeches. And we thank Paul George from Peninsula Peace and Justice Center and Amie from San Jose State Univ Greens who both did a fantastic job as MCs throughout the rally.

Sunday’s March for Peace & Justice started with very nasty weather. The deluge did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. Instead, as spring rain does, it nourished and enriched the resolve of those gathered. The March made a brief stop at the Veterans Memorial on its way to Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Nadia McCaffrey (mother of a soldier killed in Iraq) marched and spoke at the Peace rally. The gathering was multilingual. The lively, younger (multi-ethnic) generation was well represented. A new twist on “protest songs” really livened-up the soggy gathering. More than 35 Peace Organizations endorsed/participated in the event organized by the Peninsula/South Bay Peace Coordinating Council.

• Hartford, Connecticut
It was democracy at its finest on March 19. About 1,000 demonstrators lined the poverty stricken streets of Hartford on the 2nd anniversary of George W. Bush’s big mistake. A rally was held at the end of the march where many great speakers voiced their opinions and concerns. Also, some great folk music was played that was very touching to all who listened.

Click here to view all of the reports from cities and towns across the country, and the photo album.

• You can still send in a report from your city to for inclusion on the website.

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