‘HANDS OFF SYRIA & IRAN’
Anti-war protests held in many cities
By Kris Hamel
Jul 4, 2012
Demonstrations against U.S./NATO military intervention in Syria were held in at least 29 cities coast-to-coast in the United States during the week ending July 1. The United National Antiwar Coalition had called the protests and demanded: Hands off Syria and Iran! End the drone wars! and Money for jobs, education and health care, not endless war! Following are brief descriptions of some of these actions.
Photo: Marie Kullman
Protesters in Boston demonstrated June 26 in front of President Barack Obama’s fundraiser in Symphony Hall. Participants included activists from the International Action Center, Veterans for Peace, Act-Up Boston and Occupy Boston. The demonstrators’ signs and banners were visible to Obama from his motorcade as he arrived for the $2,000-per-plate event.
At the Federal Building in Los Angeles, people from the anti-war, solidarity and social justice movements, with a large attendance from the Syrian and other Arab-American communities, protested the latest war threats and provocations against Syria on June 30. Among the key organizers of the event was a member of Arab Americans for Syria, an organization which also participated in planning actions around the U.S.
Socialist and anti-imperialist organizations and activists spoke at the rally, including a member of the Peace and Freedom Party, BAYAN-USA, the International League of Peoples Struggles, the Southern California Immigration Coalition, the Union of Progressive Iranians, Unión del Barrio, Workers World Party, Latinos Against War and the Coalition to Stop FBI Repression. Workers World newspapers with the headline “Hands off Syria” were passed out and well received.
photo: Scott Scheffer
A spirited rush-hour rally was held in downtown Oakland, Calif., to demand U.S./NATO hands off Syria. Speakers representing Courage to Resist, UNAC, the Bradley Manning Defense Network, Workers World Party, the Peace and Freedom Party and others made strong statements against U.S. intervention in Syria and Iran.
Activists with the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice demonstrated June 27 in downtown Detroit. They were joined by local peace activists who have held weekly anti-war vigils at the busy intersection of Nine Mile Road and Woodward Avenue for close to 10 years. Three young cyclists stopped and joined the demonstration, leading the group in chanting, “No more war!” Numerous honks from passing motorists sounded support for the action.
Protesters turned out at the downtown Federal Building in Buffalo, N.Y., in solidarity with the peoples of Syria and Iran and against the growing threats. The press conference and rally were organized by the local chapters of Citizen Action, the International Action Center, MoveOn.org, Peace Action NY, Veterans for Peace, Occupy Buffalo, Burning Books and the Western NY Peace Center.
Activists demonstrated outside the Federal Building in Philadelphia on June 27 to engage rush-hour crowds. Participants included the Philadelphia International Action Center, the Brandywine Peace Community, Socialist Action and members of Occupy Philadelphia. An informational flyer was well received by passersby.
Protesters In Salt Lake City also gathered outside the local Federal Building. “In 2011, the federal government spent 52 percent of the federal budget on the military. This money could be spent on education, free health care or other programs that are beneficial to the people,” said organizer Travis Gray.
In Chicago, the crowd chanted, “Not another Libya! Hands off Syria!” during a June 26 picket outside the Obama re-election campaign headquarters. When a small group tried to disrupt the protest, calling for the overthrow of the Syrian government, Joe Iosbaker of UNAC explained to the crowd: “If anyone here believes that intervention by the U.S. will aid the people of Syria, they’re wrong. The U.S. isn’t threatening war with Syria because they care for the Arab people. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has cost the lives of 1 million, mainly Arabs. Go tell the Iraqi people that the U.S. government cares for Arab lives!”
In Minneapolis, people joined an emergency protest at the Federal Building. The action was initiated by the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition and endorsed by other groups, including the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Speaking at the end of the protest, Meredith Aby of MPAC and the Anti-War Committee urged participation in upcoming protests at the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
Information for this article came from Ellie Dorritie, Judy Greenspan, Martha Grevatt, Frank Neisser, John Parker, Betsey Piette and fightbacknews.org.