U.S. protesters tell government: ‘Stop supporting dictators!’
Feb 9, 2011 6:13 PM
With the popular uprising that is rocking cities across Egypt now heading into its third week, solidarity rallies are building across the U.S. in response. Many of these protests are calling on the U.S. government to end its funding for the repressive regime of Hosni Mubarak.
In the largest New York City show of solidarity with the anti-regime revolt in Egypt, thousands of people gathered near Times Square on Feb. 4 and rallied for two hours before marching to the Egyptian Mission to the United Nations. Speakers came from the Egyptian community in the U.S., Arab groups and Muslim organizations. Other immigrant groups and progressive organizations based in the U.S. delivered solidarity messages.
Many bore homemade signs with both a crescent and cross, symbolizing the unity of Muslim and Christian Egyptians against the Mubarak regime. Other signs announced the presence of people originally from Syria, Jordan and other countries in the region. Coverage of the New York rally appeared in the English version of China’s Xinhuanet.com.
To ensure that their message reached the media, people in Atlanta protested outside the offices of CNN on Feb. 5, occupying all four corners of a busy intersection and chanting passionately for more than three hours. Participants waved Egyptian flags and held signs and banners demanding that U.S.-backed dictator Mubarak and his corrupt regime step down immediately.
Young women played a key role in motivating the crowd of more than 300, with chants like, “Mubarak, pack your stuff, 30 years is enough!” Other chants denounced Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman as just another repressive ruler and demanded that the U.S. government stop supporting dictators. Rally participants included entire families from the Egyptian and Arab communities and a significant number of students and anti-war activists. CNN interviewed rally participants and local television, radio and newspapers covered the event.
In the midst of a blizzard on Feb. 5, nearly 100 protesters in Dearborn, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, held a midday picket outside City Hall. Struggling through the ever mounting snow and slush, one woman inspired everyone by coming in her wheelchair, pushed by a friend. Chants were led by Arab youth, including a sister from a new organization, Existence is Resistance. The Detroit metropolitan area is home to the largest Arab and Muslim population outside the Middle East. Participants, including Arab, Muslim, Puerto Rican and white workers, delivered a strong anti-imperialist and pro-internationalist message through their signs and chants. More than one person commented that poor and working people in the U.S. should follow the example set by the people of Egypt, Palestine and North Africa.
The afternoon rally was followed by a candlelight vigil at 5 p.m. outside Dearborn City Hall and a press conference at the Lebanese club. Earlier in the day another rally was held in Royal Oak, a 60,000-person suburb just north of Detroit.
The Midwest blizzard also didn’t stop protesters in Chicago, who gathered on Feb. 4 to chant, “Brick by brick! Wall by wall! We will see Mubarak fall!”
In Los Angeles, solidarity protesters rallied on Feb. 5 outside the Westwood Federal Building for a demonstration led by Egyptian student organizations, who utilized Facebook, and the Answer Coalition. Chants were led by Fight Imperialism, Stand Together organizer Mike Martinez. The previous day the International Action Center, BAYAN-USA and Gabriella-USA organized a successful press conference at the Egyptian Consulate under the umbrella of the International League of Peoples Struggles. Participants included members of the Southern California Immigration Coalition; Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Anti-Racist Action; the StopFBI Coalition; the Service Employees International Union; the Fellowship of Reconciliation; and other peace organizations. At least 10 television stations covered the event.
More than a hundred people marched through Center City Philadelphia on Feb. 2, stopping traffic while they protested the escalation of violence against peaceful protesters in Cairo the day before. The demonstration was led by Egyptian students from Temple and Drexel universities and organized largely through e-mail and postings on Facebook. Entire families from the Arab and Muslim communities turned out carrying Egyptian flags. Cab drivers honked horns in approval, and passersby gave thumbs-up.
The rally was the third in three days in the Philadelphia area.
Around 30 people gathered at a busy intersection near the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., on Feb. 4 holding signs reading, “We stand with the Egyptian people!” “No U.S. military aid for Egypt!” and “U.S. out of Egypt and the Middle East!” Demonstrators received continuous support from honking rush hour drivers and passersby. The rally was called by Women in Black, a group founded in Israel in 1988 to call for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine. Many other groups attended, including the International Action Center, the Tucson Committee to Stop FBI Repression and Derechos Humanos.
Downtown San Diego’s Federal Building was the scene of a large and spirited rally in solidarity with the struggling people of Egypt on Feb. 4. Speakers included Zahi Damuni, representing Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and a number of Egyptians presently residing in the area.
Close to 60 people rallied in Burnside Park in Providence, R.I., on Feb. 5 calling for an end to U.S. aid to the Mubarak regime. Organized by the Rhode Island Mobilization Committee to Stop War and Occupation, the rally received broad media coverage. The rally was followed by a short march to the State House. The next day 70 people attended a rally at the State House in support of the Egyptian people and for democracy organized by the Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement
John Catalinotto, Bob McCubbin, John Parker, Paul Teitelbaum, Jill White, Bryan G. Pfeifer, Bill Bateman and Dianne Mathiowetz contributed to this report.