A thousand people from the New York City region gathered in a foggy Times Square on Jan. 4 to protest the Trump administration’s egregious act of war and violation of Iraqi sovereignty with the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani Jan. 3 by a U.S. drone strike at the Baghdad airport.
The demonstration was one of over 90 rallies happening across the country organized by the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition and CodePink, which brought out thousands of people in less than 48 hours after the assassination to demand no war and no sanctions on Iran, U.S. forces out of Iraq and an end to the decades of U.S. endless war, occupation and destruction of the Middle East.
The protesters were from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, but primarily young people. They packed into the center of Times Square. Thousands of receptive tourists watched as protesters marched from Times Square down Broadway to Herald Square chanting, “No justice, no peace. U.S. out of the Middle East,” “Number one Terrorists? U.S. Imperialists!” and “They say more war, we say no more!” The unified voices echoed through the caverns created by skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan.
Rallies at both sites heard speakers from the Answer Coalition, Party for Socialism and Liberation, International Action Center, Refuse Facism, Workers World and Freedom Road Socialist Organization raise their voices against the United States’ genocidal policies.
Among the speakers was Karla Reyes, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, who explained that working people here are hurt by wars abroad, which drain funds from needed services. Citing the recently-passed $738 billion military budget, she explained, “War is not the priority. 700,000 people that are losing food stamps, that’s a priority. 40,000 homeless veterans, that’s a priority. 414,000 homeless students in New York, that’s a priority, Medicare for All for 20 million people, free college for 21 million people, funding for planned parenthood and not overturning Roe vs. Wade, reducing fossil fuel emissions and having clean energy, those are priorities for Americans. Investing in clean water for Flint and Newark, that’s a priority. This is not our war, this is not our priority. Our battle is against the rich.… There is no such thing as neutrality anymore. This is a war. It is a war against poor and working people all over the world and it is our job to not only denounce the corporate media but also smash capitalism and end imperialism, that is the only we are going to win.”
This week’s actions showed strength, organization and unity of a the beginnings of a much-needed new anti-war movement. Now is the time to take action, and help this movement grow into a powerful force that can stop the war machine. On Saturday, Jan. 25 in cities across the globe, there will be another set of protests against a new war in the Middle East.
Elsewhere in the state, more than 100 people from the Central New York region rallied against U.S. aggression in the Middle East on January 4. The action was organized by the grassroots organization Syracuse Peace Council and co-sponsored by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Veterans for Peace, the CNY Poor People’s Campaign and many other groups. The demonstration took place in the heart of downtown Syracuse. Speakers highlighted the imperialist nature of the United States’s conflict with Iran and Iraq.
Hannah Dickinson of the Geneva Women’s Assembly connected the ongoing struggle against war with historical protests in the region: “In the summer of 1983, nearly 3,000 women from around the country and the world arrived in the Finger Lakes to set up an encampment outside the Seneca Arms Depot in Romulus. These committed, militant peace activists wanted to stop deployments of U.S nuclear weapons to Europe during a time of escalating geo-political tensions … I thought of these brave, self-sacrificing women on the drive here today from Geneva and Seneca Lake to Syracuse because they knew then what we know today: that the multinational working class must stand together against the war profiteers and against war waged by the ruling class on oppressed people all over the world, the majority of whom are women.”