Related Gully Coverage
Antiwar protesters, New York City, Feb. 15, 2003. Adriana Patiño
by Kelly Cogswell
In the United States, Moveon.org is organizing a "Virtual March on Washington" on Feb. 25 and 26, in connection with the group Win Without War. Senators and Representatives will be blitzed with phone calls, faxes, and emails demanding they repeal the White House's mandate for war.
The National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC) is calling on students on campuses across the U.S. to join in a one-day student strike on March 5th, 2003. On International Women's Day, March 8, there will be a women-led rally and march in Washington, D.C. to encircle the White House for peace.
The U.S. group International A.N.S.W.E.R. is calling for a huge "Emergency Convergence" at the White House on March 15, and protests and strikes nationwide the day a war against Iraq begins. Like United For Peace and Justice, they're asking people to go on that day to a central location like Times Square in New York, Powell and Market in San Francisco at 5 p.m. to protest the beginning of the war, then march through city neighborhoods.
In London, where over a million and a half people denounced Blair's pro-Bush stance, the Stop the War coalition organizers is calling for a work walkout the day the UK joins the United States in attacking Iraq. Their website tells protesters to "demonstrate at 6 p.m. in your town center (London: Trafalgar Square)." It also provides an international list of activists planning similar rallies on the day the bombing starts.
New York City antiwar activists are not only fighting Bush policy, but increasingly a hostile Bloomberg administration. During a court hearing on activists' right to march, one police officer revealed a directive from City Hall apparently prohibiting all large political protest marches, perhaps invoking post-9/11 security risks. Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union called it "a clear threat to the rights of free speech and assembly that are the cornerstone of a democratic society."
Activists were denied the right to march and the rally was assigned an area far too small for the anticipated crowd of 100,000. It was a mess when almost 400,000 showed up. Organizers say the police seemed to intentionally prevent protesters from reaching the rally. In some cases protesters have charged the police with deliberate harassment and abuse.
Amateur video taken at the march, and presented as evidence in an edited version, shows the police using pepper spray on penned in people, and backing horses into crowds. Around 300 were arrested. Police blame problems on the large size of the crowd, and failures by the organizers to plan properly.
It seems that in New York, any action against a war in Iraq will also be an action for free speech and democracy at home.
For the Virtual March on Washington.
For the UK Stop the War Coalition, includes international antiwar websites.
For the NYCLU's comment on how City Policies Stifle Speech.
Sights on Iraq
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