Wednesday, September 19, 2007

100,000 March Against Iraq War


Iraq Veterans Against the War speaking at the Sept. 15 rally

On Saturday, nearly 100,000 people -- led by anti-war Iraq veterans, military families and others -- marched from the White House to the Capitol in Washington, D.C. to demand an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq. The march concluded with a dramatic "die-in" of 5,000 people surrounding the Capitol. Almost 200 people were arrested when police prevented them taking an anti-war message to Congress.

People marched shoulder-to-shoulder on eight-lane-wide Pennsylvania Avenue, with the densely packed march stretching more than 10 blocks. It was a historic action and a step forward for the anti-war movement.

Protesters surged onto the Capitol's south lawn and up the steps where they were met by a police line. There, Iraq veterans conducted a solemn ceremony to memorialize the U.S. soldiers and Iraqis killed in the war. Over 5,000 people then laid down in a symbolic "die-in" -- one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in recent years.

One hundred ninety-seven people, including dozens of veterans and activists, were arrested when they tried to deliver their anti-war message to Congress and were stopped by the police. Among the arrested were Adam Kokesh, Liam Madden, Jeff Millard, and Garrett Reppenhagen of Iraq Veterans Against the War; Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism); Ann Wright, former U.S. Army Colonel; Michael Prysner, Iraq war veteran and ANSWER activist in Florida; union president Gloria La Riva; and Eugene Puryear, Howard University student and National Coordinator of Youth & Student ANSWER. Police pepper-sprayed demonstrators without provocation.

This mass action came on the heels of the pro-war Petraeus report to Congress and Bush's wholehearted endorsement of the report. Meanwhile, the war rages on, destroying Iraqi society. Nearly 4,000 U.S. solidiers and up to 1 million Iraqis have died since the U.S. invasion in March 2003.

Many organizations and individuals joined together to sponsor the protest in Washington, D.C. timed to coincide with the Petraeus report on the "surge" in Iraq, including the ANSWER Coalition; Ramsey Clark; Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; Mounzer Sleiman, Vice Chair, National Council of Arab Americans; Cindy Sheehan; Camp Casey Peace Institute; Cynthia McKinney; Veterans for Peace (National); Garett Reppenhagen, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Chair of Board of Directors; Tina Richards, CEO of Grassroots America; Rev. Lenox Yearwood, CEO of Hip Hop Caucus; Code Pink; Father Roy Bourgeois and Eric LeCompte, School of Americas Watch; Al-Awda, The Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Kevin Zeese, Democracy Rising; Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, co-founder Appeal for Redress; Liam Madden, Pres., Boston Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and co-founder of Appeal for Redress; Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground Collective, New Orleans; Howard Zinn, Author and Historian; Carlos & Melida Arredondo, Gold Star Families for Peace and hundreds of other organizations and individuals.

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