Anti-War Groups Plan Surge on Washington
by Aaron Glanz
Peace activists from around the United States will converge on Washington Saturday for what organisers hope will be the largest demonstration to date against the Iraq war.
“We expect a turnout in the six figures,” said Tom Andrews, a former Democratic congressman who now runs the group Win Without War, which is organising the march along with True Majority, Working Assets, the RainbowPUSH Coalition, the National Organization for Women and the national umbrella group United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ).
UFPJ’s Leslie Cagan told IPS that the level of energy in the antiwar movement has spiked since the November election, when voters ended Republican majorities in both houses of Congress.
“The voters of this country figured out that they could use the November elections as a vehicle to voice their opposition to the war,” Cagan said. “What happened there was that the voters gave Congress a mandate to end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home.”
That success at the polls gave antiwar citizens more optimism that a large demonstration might make an impact, she said.
In mid-November, United for Peace and Justice called a demonstration for the nation’s capital for Jan. 27, with other large mobilisations planned for Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco.
In addition, smaller actions are planned for more than 50 cities. In Bismark, North Dakota, the group Surge for Peace will be delivering petitions to members of the local congressional delegation. In Austin, Texas, the Stop the War coalition is hosting a march and rally featuring student activists, Green Party activists, and members of the group Veterans for Peace.
A full listing of all marches nationwide is on the group’s website unitedforpeace.org.
“People started saying to us right after the election ‘well, what is Congress going to do?'” Cagan said. “And we quickly realised the real question is ‘what are we going to do to push this Congress to do what they said they were going to do to get elected’. So we figured we got to get people into Washington as soon as possible after the new session of Congress began.”
Organisers said five or six Democratic lawmakers are expected to speak at the rally in Washington, and that Representative Barbara Lee will speak at the Los Angeles gathering.
“A lot more would be speaking but we simply don’t have the time on stage,” said former congressman Andrews. “If we had all day and there was unlimited time for members of Congress to speak we’d have many members of Congress.”
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