Responding to a call to action from the ANSWER Coalition and many other anti-war organizations across the country, protests were held across California on the Jan. 4 national day of action against war on Iran. Demonstrators also demanded an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, as the sovereign government of the country has now called for. The Trump administration is continuing its drive towards war, and protesters will be back in the streets in California and around the world on January 25 for the global day of action.

Photo: Steve Patt

San Francisco

In San Francisco, two thousand people mobilized next to the cable-car turnaround at Powell and Market streets before taking off on a march that concluded with a rally at the Simón Bolivar statue at United Nations Plaza.

Reflected in the strong turnout on short notice was a broad multi-national grouping of organizations and individuals, with numerous people raising their hands when asked who was attending their first anti-war demonstration.

Endorsing organizations and representatives who spoke at the opening and end rallies included: Al-Awda Palestine Right of Return Coalition, Anakbayan, ANSWER Coalition, Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Code Pink Women for Peace, Cindy Sheehan, Democratic Socialists of America – San Francisco, National Iranian American Council, Party for Socialism & Liberation, Refuse Fascism, United National Antiwar Coalition, Veterans for Peace, and Workers World Party.

In San Francisco, Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist and mother of Casey, a soldier who died in action in Iraq, April 4, 2004, blasted Trump and the Democrats for their role in supporting war. “We can’t be partisan with our protests, we have to be nonpartisan anti-imperialists. We have to hold the Democrats to even tougher standards than we hold the Republicans. I have children and grandchildren. I would rather they grow up in a country that promoted peace and not terrorism around the world.”

Gloria La Riva, 2020 presidential candidate of the PSL and candidate for California’s Peace & Freedom Party nomination, encouraged attendees to continue building off of the day’s momentum, saying:

“Sign-up to be a fighter for peace and a fighter against a new war on Iran, because that’s what it’s going to take! What it will take is not an election, it’s going to take a movement of the millions to stop not only the wars, but to stop the occupations and the sanctions against countries like Venezuela, the blockade against Cuba, to say that the people of the world are our sisters and brothers everywhere, and that the greatest enemy of peace is the United States government and the Pentagon.”

At the concluding rally, Eyad Kishawi of Al Awda, the Palestinian right to return coalition, read their statement that “urges all Palestinians, Arabs and all people of conscience to demand the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq, the closure of all U.S.-operated facilities which are used to maintain the illegal occupation of the country and to end all hostilities with Iran, including the devastating sanctions and the economic blockade.”

Los Angeles

Many groups in the Los Angeles mobilized and co-sponsored a powerful protest, including the ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Global Women’s Strike, Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles, National Lawyers Guild, Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, Korean Peace Alliance, Pueblos Sin Fronteras, Union del Barrio, Anticonquista, Struggle – La Lucha, Relief for Yemen, Union de Vecinos, Bayan Southern CA and Roofers Local 36, among others.

Over a hundred people were already on the corner of 5th and Hill in downtown Los Angeles before the rally began. Speakers included Maria from Union del Bario who spoke on how U.S. intervention in Latin America has driven refugees north looking for stable lives only to find racism in America. Cliff Smith from Roofers Local 36 spoke about the need for working-class people to determine their future and lauded the example set by French workers, who have disrupted French society with strikes and protests for weeks in response to the criminal austerity of the Macron government. David Feldman from United Teachers of Los Angeles cited the deep poverty driving young, working class people into the military to die in wars for the rich. Baba Kili from Black Lives Matter Los Angeles declared that their movement was formed, “to fight state oppression in all its forms,” going on to draw the connection between the racist violence experienced by Black people in the U.S. and the racist violence experienced by the oppressed in countries targeted by the U.S. military. Shany from ANSWER coalition spoke of her experience being an immigrant from Iran witnessing the devastating effects of decades of U.S. intervention in her home country. Mike Prysner—Iraq War vet and producer of The Empire Files—reminded the crowd how little the U.S. government cares for its people, particularly veterans, and encouraged service members to refuse to fight another war for empire.

When the rally closed the multinational, multigenerational crowd had ballooned to more than 1,200, spilling onto the street as chants echoed off the high-rise buildings and could be heard blocks away. The crowd stopped at Grand Central Market, where a speaker let the hundreds of people inside know why people were marching and how everyone was needed to join together in calling for an end to the war.

With the march growing in numbers, the people continued to the Federal Building, putting the government on notice that the people will hold them accountable for the consequences of the Trump administration’s act of war. During a short closing rally the speakers pointed out the national and international laws the U.S. government was breaking in order to push this war; reviewed the long tradition of the anti-war movement; and inspired hope that a better world is possible if we work together to build it.

Watch a speech by Iraq war veteran Mike Prysner highlighted in this Jimmy Dore video.

Photo: Jon Britton

San José

With just one day’s notice, a diverse crowd of about 200 gathered Jan. 4 at the busy intersection of Fourth and Santa Clara streets, near City Hall, to demand No War With Iran and U.S. Out of the Middle East. The recently formed South Bay Anti-Imperialist Coalition initiated the action.

Members of some 15 other organizations took part in the united-front action, including Code Pink, DSA, San José Peace & Justice Center, Brown Berets, MAIZ, Jewish Voice for Peace, Friday Peace Vigil, and the Raging Grannies. Several local members of the National Lawyers Guild participated as legal observers.

Reporters and camera crews from KPIX channel five and Bay Area NBC showed up to cover the action.

A young organizer, Ky, representing PSL, read from the ANSWER Coalition statement calling for the national day of action in response to Trump’s illegal act of war.

Mike, another young organizer, spoke on why an anti-imperialist organization is needed now more than ever. He stressed the need for the antiwar movement to stay in the streets, warned of the danger of it being diverted into the Democratic Party, and urged people to attend the next day’s organizing meeting.

In the course of the hour-and-a-half rally, speakers from many of the other groups present, including the Brown Berets, voiced their anger at the reckless, provocative actions of the Trump administration.

Photo: Liberation News

San Diego

About 150 protesters gathered at the Federal Building in downtown San Diego on Jan. 4 to protest imperialist aggression against Iran and Iraq. The demonstration was organized by the ANSWER Coalition, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Peace and Freedom Party, National Iranian-American Council and Unión del Barrio.

During a speech, José Cortés, PSL and Peace and Freedom Party congressional candidate for San Diego’s 50th district said: “It is the Democrats and Republicans who are guilty. The Republicans use outright white supremacy and chauvinism to sell their message of U.S. hegemony across the world.” He added: “Both of the parties are calling for more conversation around the ideas of war, and who gets to declare it, and how it’s engaged and for whom. But what we understand here is that neither of these parties actually stand in the interest of the working-class people.”

After the initial rally, participants marched in the streets to a bridge that overlooks the I-5 freeway. They hung an ANSWER Coalition banner that says “Trump, the People Say: No War on Iran! U.S. Troops Out of Iraq!” over the fence for northbound drivers to see. Then they rallied and chanted more before eventually dispersing.

Other California cities

Actions were also organized in Davis, Sacramento and Santa Monica.