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Thousands March to End the War

author: Laury Kenton (photographs by Elliot Stoller)
Oct 28, 2007 15:08

Thousands of activists sang, danced and chanted as they marched through the streets of Seattle demanding an end to the Iraq war. The march began in the heart of the Central District in Judkins Park, down Jackson Street went through the International District and ended in Occidental Park, in the heart of Pioneer Square. The march covered a distance of 2.38 miles. Crowd estimates ranged from 4,000 to 6,000. The police downplayed the size, but acknowledged that the size of the crowd was "upwards from 2,000".

11 cities nationwide participating in a coordinated protest against the war in Iraq. The march commemorated the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Senate's vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq. In Seattle, peace groups from throughout Cascadia joined the march. There were representatives from local peace groups in Bellevue, Bremerton, Everett, Poulsbo, Kent, Leavenworth, Monroe, Sequim, Tacoma, Wenatchee, Vancouver and Vashon Island in Washington, as well as Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

PDX Peace chartered buses to Seattle to ensure that Portland made a strong showing at the event. 269 Portlanders climbed aboard 5 buses at 7 am. The Eugene Veterans For Peace brought their bus, Squadron 13, to Seattle. It drove behind the march to offer a ride to anyone who wasn't able to walk the entire way.

The rally speakers challenged the marchers to make the connections between movements -- to recognize that the struggle is larger than just the war in Iraq.

Aracely Hernandez spoke on the war within the context of the immigrant rights movement and social justice.

Jeff Johnson of the Washington State Labor Council told activists that the war is not in the interest of working folks. "Every day we are over there the world is less safe."

At home, working people in America are loosing ground on economic issues.

Michael Dixon, the youngest of three brothers who in the late 1960s formed the Seattle branch of the Black Panthers, encouraged young people to take an active role in ending the war: "Young people are the force that can stop this," he told them, "What you do or don't do will determine the future of the United States."

Chanan Suarez-Diaz, president of the Seattle chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War discussed the importance of the emergence of the GI movement in the United States: "If you get soldiers to refuse to fight, you will end this war. This movement needs to be led by Iraq veterans against the war with your support." He reminded the activists that "This is a racist war of oppression. This is a war of profit. Only the corporations are benefiting from this"

A repeating theme through the speeches was the importance of citizens taking action. Caitlyn Esworth told the crowd that "From the very beginning we have been complicit participants in this illegal and immoral war. And when our local officials from local port commissioners to all the way up to senators refuse to represent their constituents, it is up to us to act." She pointed out how citizen movements like port resistance can stop the growing militarization of our towns and cities. Activists can throw "a wrench into the machines of war" and force a change, even when elected officials are not making any meaningful steps toward ending the war.

According to Esworth, stopping the military shipments will stop the war. Wally Cuddeford told activists that this goal is attainable: "Our will is stronger than their pepperspray, our resolve will outlast their batons, and our determination cannot be tasered."

In addition to the speeches, the program included a puppet show and music.

Tacoma Puppetistas performed the play "The War On Trial" The audience played the role of jury in a war crimes trial. Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfield, and the U.S. Congress appeared during the mock trial as tall puppets caricatures. After hearing their testimony, all five were found guilty of crimes against humanity.

The progressive group Hungry Mob ended the program. Their music fused hip-hop, jazz and soul.

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