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Protesters Try to Revive Antiwar Effort
By Manny Fernandez
Friday 24 October 2003
Deep in a cluttered basement in Southeast Washington, the message comes to life. A 51-year-old courier from San Diego and a 24-year-old law student from New Jersey's Rutgers University crouched over a yellow banner yesterday, dipping brushes in black paint to complete the slogan that brought them both to Washington: "End the occupation of Iraq."
"I think we're not going to solve this problem just at the voting booth," said David Tworkowski, who flew in from San Diego on Wednesday night to help with logistics and banners at an organizer's office in preparation for tomorrow's antiwar march. "We have to put people in the streets."
Tworkowski was part of a small first wave of protesters that began arriving Wednesday. Tens of thousands more are expected to call for an end to the occupation of Iraq at tomorrow's demonstration, organizers said, as protesters from across the United States and Canada try to give renewed energy to the antiwar movement.
Buses are picking up participants at 13 locations in and around New York City. The Boston area is sending nine buses, and Philadelphia is sending eight, organizers said. Cleveland and Buffalo will fill four buses each, and one veteran opposed to the occupation started driving in his RV last week from Washington state.
"I have two granddaughters," said Nancy Jakubiak, 54, a legal assistant preparing for a 12-hour trip to the District on a charter bus leaving Louisville tonight. "They're 3 and 1, and I do this for them. I tremble when I think of the world they're going to grow up in."
With two of the biggest antiwar coalitions sponsoring the demonstration, International ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice, a broad range of protesters is planning to take part. Student activists from Columbia University, Ohio State University and several Washington area colleges will join the march. Muslim and Arab American activists are expected in large numbers, as well as family members of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, organizers said.
U.S. Park Police and D.C. police officials said yesterday that street closures would follow the marches, both with and without permits. Cmdr. Cathy Lanier, head of the D.C. police special operations division, said that based on permits for the event, police were expecting "well over 30,000 people." She said no disturbances were expected. D.C. police announced they will activate their network of 14 closed-circuit cameras in the downtown area and set up five more cameras along and near the march route to "assist with crowd management and public safety."
At 9 tonight, veterans and military family members have a vigil scheduled at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to demand that the troops come home. Among them will be Stephen Cleghorn, 54, an executive at a D.C. nonprofit group whose stepson is in the U.S. Army in Iraq. "I believe he's a conscientious young man who went into the service to defend his country," Cleghorn said in an interview. "I just think he's been put on the wrong mission."
Protest leaders estimated tomorrow's crowd, in discussions with the National Park Service, at 30,000, but some organizers expect to exceed that. ANSWER organizer Brian Becker said the gathering would not be as large as ANSWER's Jan. 18 march, which police said drew 100,000 but organizers said attracted 500,000. Activists have said one of the movement's challenges has been to mobilize large numbers in the face of an occupation as opposed to the imminent threat of war that sparked previous demonstrations.
In the days leading up to the January march, protesters in about 250 cities across the country were coordinating transportation to Washington. This time, activists in about half that number of cities are organizing bus and car trips. "The bar was set very high last winter," said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of the United coalition, which organized a protest in February in New York. "It's really not a numbers game. It's about keeping alive the notion that there is a place for public dissent."
The purpose of tomorrow's march, organizers said, is to demand the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and to protest the Patriot Act, the legislation enacted two years ago that expanded the government's powers of surveillance and detention.
The last major peace rally in Washington was an ANSWER protest in April that police said as many as 30,000 attended. The weeks and months since then without major street protests were not a sign of defeat, organizers said, but instead a period of reflection and education. Some said they and others felt a kind of demoralization when their efforts failed to stop the war. One New Jersey organizer even had a name for it: "discouraged peace activists syndrome."
ANSWER announced plans for tomorrow's march at the end of June, with the date selected to coincide with the Patriot Act's anniversary and to give organizers time to mobilize college and high school students. Activists said ANSWER's timing for a display of dissent could not have been better, as attacks continue against U.S. forces in Iraq, as the House and Senate discuss different versions of an $87 billion spending package for Iraq and Afghanistan and as support for President Bush's Iraq policy slips in the polls. "It's called a movement for a reason," Cagan said after a news conference Tuesday in Washington. "It has its ebb and flow."
The permitted protest begins with an 11 a.m. rally at the Washington Monument. A march at 1:30 p.m. will pass the White House and the Justice Department. Black Voices for Peace and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation are planning separate feeder marches.
Anti-capitalist activists in the Washington area said they will protest an expo to attract residents to the District at the Washington Convention Center before joining the main march. Protesters say they will meet at Seventh and P streets NW at 11:30 a.m. Michael Loadenthal, 20, an American University student and an organizer with the unnamed group sponsoring the event, said the purpose of protesting the city-living expo is "to send a very loud message to the mayor and real estate prospectors that there are people in this city who say no to gentrification."
Kristinn Taylor said he is helping to organize a counter-demonstration to let protesters know that "their anti-American message is not going to go unanswered, like it was during Vietnam." Taylor, 41, co-leader of the D.C. chapter of Free Republic, said 1,000 people are expected for a rally at 11 a.m. at the West Front of the Capitol to show support for U.S. troops and protest tyrannical regimes. At 2 p.m., they plan on being at Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue NW to greet marchers, though they are not looking to start trouble, he said.
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Protesters to Bush: How dare you?
By Claire O'Rourke
The Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 23 October 2003
Buses carrying hundreds of protesters were expected to leave Sydney for Canberra this morning, to coincide with the visit by the United States President, George Bush.
Rallies and marches in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne yesterday evening kicked off a series of actions to oppose the presidential visit and that of the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao.
In Sydney yesterday, the crowd, estimated by protest organisers to be 5000 people and by police at between 3000 and 4000, filled Town Hall square during peak hour.
Senator Bob Brown of the Greens was greeted with wild cheers and applause before he called on Mr Bush to release two Australians held in the US military jail in Cuba.
"How dare you lock up Australian citizens in Guantanamo Bay?" Senator Brown said.
He demanded that Mr Bush repatriate Mamdouh Habib, of Sydney, and David Hicks, of Adelaide, to Australia "the same as you repatriated the Americans to America".
A federal Labor MP, Harry Quick, repeated his wish to turn his back when Mr Bush addresses Parliament today, despite strict instructions from his party leader, Simon Crean.
"They told me I have to be respectful, respectful of the US President," he told the rally.
"But I will tell you, why should we respect this duplicitous conniving and lying President of the United States?"
Wearing a white band on his right arm, he said he hoped to be joined by a number of fellow MPs including Jennie George, Tanya Plibersek and the Greens senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle.
Protesters marched peacefully, albeit noisily, along George Street and up King Street, slowing as they passed the US consulate at Martin Place, which was guarded by police. They chanted "No racism, no war, this is what we are fighting for", and "Troops out now, Iraq for Iraqis" as they walked.
Donna Mulhearn, who acted as a human shield in Iraq and plans to go back there next month to establish houses for children left homeless in the conflict, said yesterday's protest meant the Australian public have not disengaged from the issue.
"The concerns and the fears that they had when the war was brewing in February-March is still deep within the Australian people," she said.
"I would like to see this translated into action and support for Iraqis and I think that it will."
A Democrat member of State Parliament, Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, told the rally in Martin Place that Australia should be a non-racist neighbour.
"John Howard does not speak for us - we oppose the war on Iraq, we oppose the use of pre-emptive strikes," he said.
Five buses filled with a total of 250 protesters were expected to leave from Central railway station early this morning to join protest actions in Canberra near Old Parliament House scheduled to begin at 9am. Additional buses were expected to leave from the eastern and western suburbs of Sydney, while protesters from Brisbane and Melbourne travelled to Canberra last night.
One of the protest convenors, Nick Everett, of the Stop the War Coalition, predicted that there would be even larger protests in Canberra today.
"I think the protests revive a sense of confidence and determination . . . that we can make headway and push back Bush and Howard's agenda," he said.
Simon Smart, a high school history teacher who had a "peace monitor" sticker stuck to his back over his blue business shirt, said he was drawn to yesterday's protest to "express some sort of voice against George Bush and Australia jumping on the bandwagon".
"The Australian population seems to have been clearly misled in [Howard and Bush's] justification for war," he said.Posted by Lisa at October 25, 2003 07:13 PM | TrackBack