On January 25, anti-war organizers in more than 200 cities across the world answered a global call to action initiated by the ANSWER — Act Now to Stop War and End Racism — Coalition, CODEPINK, Popular Resistance, Black Alliance for Peace, National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), Veterans For Peace, US Labor Against the War (USLAW) and many more demanding no war with Iran, end the sanctions and remove all U.S. troops from the Middle East. The threat of wind and rain in forecasts across New England did not stop organizers from Manchester, New Hampshire to New Haven, Connecticut from responding to the call. Hundreds came out in support of the demands and to participate in the rallies, marches, and educational events.
A vigorous group of over 400 anti-war demonstrators rallied outside of the Massachusetts State House and then marched through downtown Boston to demand no war on Iran and U.S. out of Iraq and the Middle East. The demonstration brought crowds of young people in high school and college, in addition to veterans, union workers and public school teachers.
Nineteen groups endorsed the demonstration, including the ANSWER Coalition, National Iranian American Council, Pride at Work Eastern Massachusetts, I am Harriet Boston, Harvard Bookstore Union UAW Local 1596 and MIT Students Against War. Many speakers condemned sanctions as an act of war that only harm the working and oppressed people of the countries targeted. Others connected U.S. military intervention in the Middle East to the deteriorating living conditions domestically, arguing that the money spent building the war machine could be spent on health care, housing and poverty elimination. During the rally, more than 500 dollars was collected to donate to an earthquake relief organization on the ground in Puerto Rico.
Teacher and rank-and-file member of Boston Teachers Union Amrita D spoke about the racism that has anchored the U.S. government’s imperialist wars, “my students are growing up in a post 9/11 United States where the ‘war on terror’ has deepened racism against South and Southeast Asians, Arabs and people from the Middle East. We have to talk about war with our young people, they deserve a prosperous and promising future, not a bleak horizon of endless wars for profits.”
Mojgun from the National Iranian-American Council told the crowd, “I want you all to think about what it means to be at war. Some of us have direct experiences with war…. we have a personal connection to war. When I came to the United States in 1983, it was in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War. It was devastating for both countries. I remember at night we had black outs, we would board up our windows and pull the shades and curtains and light our candles and wait for the sirens and bombs…. we didn’t have cell phones and social media back then to get news immediately, we had to wait until the next morning to see what part of the city was hit and how many people died.”
The march grew as it traveled through downtown Boston, with workers and patrons spilling out of coffee shops and stores to join the march, or take videos and educational flyers. It began to drizzle as the protest was ending, and about 50 energized demonstrators walked back to community organizing hub Encuentro5 to warm up with hot cider and talk about the future of the movement.
Over two dozen activists braved the freezing rain and gathered in front of L3Harris Technologies in Northampton, Massachusetts as part of the Global Day of Protest.
Resistance Center for Peace and Justice organizer Miranda Groux explained the significance of this location: “L3Harris is one of the top 10 defense contractors in the world, and the company is on track to become the sixth largest, providing the military with surveillance solutions, microwave weaponry, and tools for electronic warfare. The stocks in this company have soared since Trump has threatened to escalate in Iran.” Organizer Yoav Elinevsky spoke about how the cost of the war is $5.4 trillion of public money.
Historian and director of the Tri-continental Institute for Social Research Vijay Prashad closed out the rally with a reminder, “It’s not Iran that has provoked the United States, it’s not Iran that has intervened in the U.S. political system, it’s the United States — that since at least 1953 — has intervened in Iran.” He continued, “It’s important that we stand here against the war that is already going on in Iran, it is important that we stand here against the state that has totally given over to the mechanism of destruction.”
Providence, Rhode Island
Despite the cold and dreary weather, 50 people answered the global call to action at the Rhode Island State House in Providence. Endorsing organizations included No Endless War or Excessive Militarism, Providence Antiwar, RI based Advocacy Team, Brown War Watch, Rhode Island Anti-War Committee, East Bay Citizens for Peace and Providence Democratic Socialists of America.
ANSWER Coalition organizer Satya Mohapatra said in his speech “All U.S. wars and occupations of the Middle East have been based on lies and deception — WMD lies; Humanitarian Intervention lies.” Many veterans were present to confirm these lies, and several Vietnam War era protest songs were sung during the rally, including Edwin Starr’s “War” and Nat King Cole’s “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.”
Direct Action for Rights and Equality member Terri Wright said, “Let’s stop U.S. war outside and war on our communities.” The significant impact that the military industrial
complex has on communities of color was rightfully addressed during several of the speeches, specifically how military tactics are being taught to local and state police departments and government agencies. Monica Huerata of the group No LNG at PVD said, “ICE and policing are the same extension of U.S. militarism.”
Michael from the climate action group Sunrise Movement said “War is a climate change issue and the U.S. military is the biggest polluter in the world.” Matt Ritchie of Brown War Watch, a student anti-war group inside Brown University, stressed that student anti-war activism could boost the general anti-war movement now.
Rally organizer Jonathan Daly-LaBelle called out two Rhode Island Democrats — U.S. House Representative James Langevin and Senator Jack Reed — for being complicit in Trump’s war by supporting the National Defense Authorization Act to increase the military budget.
Members of the local Iranian community brought signs written in both English and Farsi that read “Iranians don’t want war with the U.S.A.” The intimate rally closed with a chant demanding that the U.S. stop this aggression with Iran and a call to action that people continue to stay informed.
New Haven, Connecticut
Despite heavy rain, over three dozen people came out to protest in downtown New Haven. Henry Lowendorf of the Greater New Haven Peace Council kicked off the rally: “Do we want a war with Iran?” The crowd shouted back an emphatic “No!” “Would we like the troops out of Iraq?” “Yes!” The assassination of General Soleimani he said “was an act of war” and “has escalated an economic war on Iran, a war that includes assassinations and sabotage” going back to the 1950s overthrow of Mosaddegh.
Ward 3 Alder Ron Hurt, also an organizer with New Haven Rising, said “I represent a ward where there is a hunger. The children in my ward go to sleep at nighttime without dinner. There’s an opioid crisis in our land. All this money they’re spending on defense can help curb these situations.” Earlier in the week, the New Haven Board of Alders passed a resolution urging the Congressional delegation from Connecticut to support Tim Kaine’s resolution in the U.S. Senate against escalating military conflict with Iran.
Jim Pandreau, an anti-war veteran and organizer reminded the demonstration that as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, the United States government is the “greatest purveyor of violence” in the world today. “King also said that a nation that keeps on spending more on war and the military is slowly approaching spiritual death,” Pandreau said, to cheers from the crowd.
After the rally, people went to the New Haven Library for a panel and discussion on U.S. wars at home and abroad. Puerto Rican liberation activist Jason Ortiz drew connections between the movement against U.S. wars in the Middle East and the illegal U.S. occupation of Puerto Rico. Ortiz pointed out that it’s the same system — U.S. imperialism — that oppresses people around the world and our fight needs to include all those victims. Finally, Ahmad Abojaradeh, a Palestinian activist and the Founder and Executive Director of Life In My Days, talked about the urgency of raising up and centering the voices of oppressed people in the anti-war movement.
Manchester, New Hampshire
More than a dozen peace activists gathered at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Manchester at noon. They took turns leading chants to put forward a loud, clear and unified message, and held signs with slogans like “Support the Troops — End the Wars” and “U.S. Out of Iraq! End the Occupation!”
Over the course of an hour, the rally engaged with many passers-by. Drivers honked and waved in support. People at the park and nearby bus stop came over to converse. One man shared that he was illiterate and asked what the signs said and meant. He related to the event’s anti-war goals and shared that his father was a veteran. Many people approached the rally initially out of curiosity and ended up staying to have friendly, productive conversations about the dangers of war and the importance of building a strong anti-war movement in the United States.
At one point, the group circled up and everyone took turns sharing why they came. The majority of people said that they felt responsible to stand up to the violence being carried out by the U.S. ruling class “in our name.”
Before the action ended, the attendees made plans to follow up. There will be more actions to demand that U.S. troops exit the Middle East and to end the sanctions on Iran. In addition, there will be events joining the anti-war movement with the movement to free political-prisoner Leonard Peltier. One organizer said, “just as we oppose national oppression and colonialism abroad, we oppose them at home. The anti-war struggle is also an anti-racist struggle and a struggle to free all political prisoners.”