On January 4 and 5, thousands of people in cities across the country rallied and took the streets in response to a national call by the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition and a wide range of other anti-war organizations. These actions were a milestone in the resurgence of the anti-war movement and demand an end to endless wars.
New Haven, Connecticut
The blustery New England winter didn’t stop over 150 people from gathering at the corner of Church and Chapel Street in downtown New Haven to speak out against the U.S. government’s assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, and the consistent aggression of the U.S. government in the region.
The ANSWER Coalition in Connecticut called the event, supported by attendees and speakers from across the state, representing CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) CT, Socialist Resurgence, 350CT, Connecticut Progressives, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and others. Every speaker agreed that we need to fight the unlawful actions of the United States in Iraq and the Middle East.
Chants of “What do we want? No War!” could be heard across the New Haven Green and people honked and cheered as they drove by.
Fahd Syed started with a greeting of peace, As-salamu alaykum, before addressing the crowd, “War kills people, slaughters people, men women and children on all sides. No one wants war. No one wants to be killed. No one wants their country to be invaded.” He continued, “People are hurt, people feel discriminated, people don’t want to be slaughtered. When I travel abroad, one of the first things they tell me is ‘Why do Americans hate us? Why do they want to kill us?’ and I try to say that not all Americans want to do this. Look at us,” he gestured to the growing crowd, leading a chant of “hell no to war!”
ANSWER Coalition organizer Maia Leonardo called out the hypocrisy of the media and politicians who say “support our troops”,
“They don’t talk about real threats to veterans and civilians like rising homelessness and a dysfunctional, under-funded VA healthcare system! Civilians in the war zone will bear the highest cost of a new U.S. war. An estimated one million Iraqi civilians died in the war with an untold number displaced for life and the U.S. use of radioactive depleted uranium ammunition is still causing a high prevalence of cancers and birth defects.”
An energetic and determined group of protesters gathered in Veterans Memorial Park in Manchester, New Hampshire. Some drove for more than an hour to protest against the extrajudicial murders of Iranian and Iraqi officials that had brought the United States to the doorstep of launching another disastrous and destructive conflict in the Middle East. “In general, I don’t like the idea of the United States taking over the entire world,” said Kate Hayes, who had been in the streets since 10:00 a.m. protesting on their own before joining the park protest.
PSL and New Hampshire Peace Action organizers took turns speaking to the severity of the situation, the bipartisan nature of the $738 billion dollar war budget, and what a hot war with Iran would look like for working people in Iran and the United States.
Attendees were encouraged to speak on the situation and shared powerful poetry denouncing war and imperialism. PSL organizers then led the group in chants of “Humanitarian? That’s a lie! They don’t care how many die!” and “Billions for war but can’t feed the poor? We’re fired up won’t take it no more.”
Afterwards, members of the crowd told Liberation News their reasons for coming out and supporting the anti-war efforts. “I think it’s important to build local coalitions with people, with activists. More people more power.” said Tom Bracket of the University of New Hampshire’s Youth Democratic Socialists of America (UNH YDSA). “We have a long history of intervening in the Middle East with disastrous effects for the people living there … Freedom and peace in the middle east!” said Will, also of the YDSA.
At least 500 anti-war demonstrators rallied despite the cold and rain outside of Park Street Station to demand, “NO MORE U.S. TROOPS TO IRAQ OR THE MIDDLE EAST! U.S. OUT OF IRAQ NOW! NO WAR/NO SANCTIONS ON IRAN!” The action was called by the ANSWER Coalition in Boston, and endorsed by more than a dozen other organizations, including Veterans for Peace, Boston University Students Against Imperialism, the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Pride at Work Eastern Massachusetts, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and more. Rachel Domond of the PSL told the crowd:
“Working class, poor, oppressed and exploited people around the world don’t want war, but the big banks, oil companies and weapons manufacturers do! Top business people and high ranking U.S. officials are the people who stand to gain in any conflict. These entities will use U.S. troops as pawns for profit. How many times have we been told the same lie? How many times have our working class siblings been sent to kill other working class people around the world? How many times have our working class siblings been sent to die for the wealthy? It is our duty, as people living in the core of world imperialism, to understand that war, violence and destruction keep the U.S. government running. We know that the United States government has an extensive history of intervention and war. Even the most progressive leaders in the U.S. have repeatedly supported war and death around the world. The empire has an interest, and that interest is not for democracy or oppressed people; and under capitalism it will never be.”
Sofia Rose Wolman from the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain also addressed the crowd, saying:
“As we are starting the new year, we can start to think about where has capitalism taken us today. Are we seeing people thriving? Are the multitudes and the masses thriving? No! Where has white supremacy taken us? To violence and death and destruction. And where has militarism taken us? To the same thing…. but people all around the world are saying ‘no more war! No more domination! No more destruction! We want peace. We want love’…. [We can] turn upside down a social order where violence rules today…. and if our churches can help us do this then lets go to church — hallelujah! — let’s organize our churches. And if the churches we are at are justifying violence, we either have to leave those churches, or we have to push our churches and organize within them.”
Immediately following the demonstration, protesters took the streets. As they marched, they erupted in chants such as “Number one terrorists? U.S. imperialists!”; “Money for jobs and education / Not for war and occupation”; and “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your racist wars! Five, six, seven, eight, stop the killing, stop the hate!” Many bystanders were so moved by the demonstration that they became participants themselves.
Energized marchers turned into eager students as they packed Encuentro5 for a free teach-in on Iran, Iraq and the history of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East.
To keep this enthusiasm alive, we encourage all working class and oppressed peoples to start or keep up their involvement in the anti-war struggle. Join us on January 11 for a webinar teach-in, and January 25 for a global day of action!