1000 People Take to Streets, Oppose War on Iraq
by patrick, imc volunteer
Sunday November 17, 2002 at 02:48 AM
Over 1000 Cleveland area peace activists and others concerned with looming war & continued aggression against the people of Iraq took to the streets today in opposition to US policies at home and abroad. Protest took the form of two lively marches and a rally on Public Square.
Saturday, November 16 -
Continuing the momentum from last weekends rally and march in Columbus, over 1000 Cleveland area peace activists and others concerned with looming war & continued aggression against the people of Iraq took to the streets today in opposition to US policies at home and abroad. Protest took the form of two lively marches and a rally on Public Square.
At approximately 11:30 a small group of anti-war protesters began a march leaving the intersection of W.44th and Lorain, and continued down the sidewalks of Lorain before entering the neighborhoods of the near west side. About 26 protesters wearing mostly black carried banners and signs, and shouted slogans and cheers.
In an announcement distributed via email the group planning the march said, " The Northeast Ohio Antiwar Coalition (NOAC) is calling for a demonstration on Saturday Nov. 16th @ 12noon at W.25th and Lorain. The Burning River Collective hopes to see everyone that opposes this war there. In addition to the demonstration, we are calling for a feeder march and contingent within the march under the slogan, "Stop the War, Fight the System!"
"At the same time as the Bush administration is threatening war on Iraq, it has already bombed
Afghanistan, stripped Muslims, Arabs, and South Asian immigrants of any semblance of civil liberties, passed policies nearing police state-like measures, and rained batons and bullets on the urban warzones of our communities. We say that we not only need to stop this war but we need to fight the entire system that is pushing it!"
Planners said they intended the march to be more visible to the public as it will travel through local communities in order to drum up opposition to the war on the way to the larger demonstration.
In addition to the main slogan of "Stop the War, Fight the System" other slogans used throughout the march included "Who let the bombs out? BUSH!, BUSH! BUSH!, BUSH!" and "Stand Up, No More, We Don't Want You're Fucking War!!"
Along the way some marchers passed out informational flyers to the few people on sidewalks and in doorways, and anyone in passing cars that stopped and showed interest. Many did. Other bystanders and passersby looked on with indifference, confusion, or amusement.
At one point, a man who said his name was Jim called out from a second story window asking "What war?" Protestors referred him to the pending invasion of Iraq, and the continued US/UK bombings enforcing "no fly zones". Jim continued saying that based on what he saw on TV he didn't believe there was going to be a war in Iraq "[Bush] doesn't plan on going over there. It's all talk. The whole worlds against him."
Halfway to the assembly site for the NOAC march, the feeder march was met by several police cars and escorted the remainder of the route to the assembly site.
NOAC March begins…
While the first march was going on, several hundred people gathered at Market Square and the intersection of W.25th and Lorain, across from the West Side Market for the beginning of a permitted march sponsored by the Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition. According the group, "NOAC is a coalition of peace, religious, labor, student and community groups, as well as concerned individuals who oppose U.S. war plans and the bombing of Iraq."
At noon, those that had gathered at the assembly site for the NOAC march were met by the group from the feeder march and everyone began to assemble on W.25th St for the planned march to Public Square for a permitted rally. Shortly thereafter, the march began behind a large banner stating the themes of the demonstration, "Stop the War on Iraq, No War for Oil, Not in Our Name, Money for Jobs Healthcare and Education - Not for War".
Along the way banners were hung from buildings, almost everyone that participated in the march carried a sign, banner, flag or megaphone. Some brought musical instruments such as guitars and makeshift drums to accompany the many chants and protest songs. Participants were comprised of a diverse segment of the community, and the march included protesters of different ages, races, religions, and species (there were a few dogs). Slogans chanted for this march included "Hell No, We Won't Go, We Won't Die For Texaco!" and What Do We Want? Peace! When Do We Want It? Now!"
The coalition march stretched across a majority of the Detroit-Superior Bridge, and occupied three lanes of the roadway, as a result police closed the bridge to automobile traffic for the remainder if the march. Once they entered the downtown area, the demonstrators stopped occasionally to regroup and amplify the volume of the chants.
At shortly before 1pm the front of the coalition march arrived at Public Square and began to file into the southwest quadrant for the rally. In a short time the area was filled with people. Many overflowed into the surrounding area, climbed the walls for a better view, and leaned on the railings of the surrounding street level.
Once everyone settled in the speeches began. The speakers represented many different groups all working to create anti-war policies and anti-imperialist government in the U.S. Some of the groups represented included Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition, International A.N.S.W.E.R., Cleveland Non-Violence Network, Student Anti-Racist Action, Kent State Anti-war Committee, Not In Our Name, the Burning River Revolutionary Anarchist Collective, and others. In addition to speakers, there was music and singing. Despite the cool November air and a light rain that began to fall near the end of the rally, most in attendance remained to the end.
Over 1000 people are estimated to have participated in the marches and rally. As of this writing there were no reports of any arrests or injuries.
For more information about…
Northeast Ohio Anti-War Coalition (NOAC) phone: 216-231-4245
Or mail to: c/o GCIU Local 546M, 3227 W.25th St., Cleveland, OH 44109
Burning River Collective website: http://www.burningriver.org
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