Chicago Indymedia : http://chicago.indymedia.org/archive
Chicago Indymedia

News :: [none]

Second Anti-War March Expresses Hopes for Peace

CHICAGO, Sep. 29 (IMC) - A large American flag faces Michigan Avenue as an initial crowd of 300 people, later
growing to 800, gathers on a plaza north of the Chicago River to rally against US intervention in Afghanistan and to hear
speakers describe their reactions to the terrorist attack in New York City.
CHICAGO, Sep. 29 (IMC) - A large American flag faces Michigan Avenue as an initial crowd of 300 people, later


growing to 800, gathers on a plaza north of the Chicago River to rally against US intervention in Afghanistan and to hear


speakers describe their reactions to the terrorist attack in New York City.





Three people hold the flag up to chest-level, leaving their heads visible.





"I am holding up my identity as an American," says one. "I don't equate being American with being better. I show my


sorrow with the victims of the World Trade Center bombing, and I hope my government makes the right decision. I am


okay with President Bush, and I hope he brings the perpetrators to justice. Many don't want to hold up the American flag,


and I can understand why," says Eric Kobesak, a student at Harold Washington College.





He goes on to disagree with the president's ultimatum that "either you are with us or you are against us."





Dawne Moon and Prudence Browne of Queer to the Left raise the importance of their presence with other groups who


are peaceful.





"We have been stating through the queer press that many gays should recognize homophobia and transphobia. Many are


not seeing the scapegoating that's aimed at them and at Arabs and Muslims."





While a woman starts up a round of "We Shall Not Be Moved," a 20-ish white man stands with others who all wear the


traditional Palestinian hattah, or scarf, around their necks, theirs with a common black-and-white pattern.Toward the


tassels on one of its ends are the colors of the Palestinian flag: red, black, white and green, accompanied by the words


Right of Return. He goes only by his initials, B.P., and says that he stands in solidarity with many Middle Eastern people.





Sister Kathleen Desautels of Chicago's 8th Day Center for Justice addresses the crowd using an amplified horn. People


listening now number close to 600 arranged in gradually curving rows.





"The usual suspects are here to stand for peace," she begins. "We condemn September Eleventh's despicable attack on


victims. We are here to mourn them and all victims of inhumane actions. We are people of conscience, we say no to


racism, and we stand with the Muslim community, females and males. We honor the victims by calling for an end to the


cycle of violence, and by standing in opposition to any government that wishes to increase the cycle of violence."





Desautels mentions a parents' email in which they express grief for the loss of their son Greg in the World Trade Center


bombing while expressing their sense that the government is headed toward revenge. They say that they do not want any


retaliation in their son's name.





The people in the gathering observe a moment of silence to honor all victims of violence everywhere.





Keeanga Taylor of the International Socialist Organization speaks next to the crowd about her opposition to any attempts


to launch war against any government. She states that the September 11 killings do not give anyone a license to kill


anyone else.





"The idea that [the US] government is on a crusade of justice and freedom would be funny if it weren't such a joke," says


Taylor. "Bush is launching a war at the same time that Arabs and Arab Americans have no rights in this country." As an


example she refers to an incident on a September 20 Northwest Airlines flight in which 3 Iraqi nationals were taken off the


plane because some passengers said they were uncomfortable with their presence on the flight. Instead of an expected


retraction, a Northwest spokesperson defended the action citing security rules.





The crowd proceeds to boo.





Taylor continues to indict various officials, national and local, who have enacted decisions that could dubiously be


described as serving justice. She mentions the recent exoneration of Cincinnati police officer Stephen Roach who


presented repeated conflicting testimony regarding the events surrounding his killing of unarmed Timothy Thomas, a black


youth.





Taylor mentions the deal offered by Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine's office to four Illinois Death Row


inmates. According to the Chicago Tribune and Associated Press reports these four inmates of Illinois' Death Row 10


could be released if they plead guilty to crimes that they say were made-up and that they confessed to only under the


duress of Chicago Police torture tactics. At least 11 prisoners have claimed wrongful incarceration due to former


Commander Jon Burge's commonly known practice of using physical abuse and torture to extract confessions.





"Is this the country to fight and die for?" Taylor asks rhetorically. After denouncing New York City's Mayor Rudy Giuliani


and President Bush for numerous deaths at the hands of police, and for 152 executions, respectively, she finishes by


asserting that America's war effort has now given carte blanche to a war spending package of billions of dollars that


would be better spent on people living in America.





Andy Thayer of the Coalition Against Bashing Network expresses his solidarity with gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual and


transgendered people, as well as with Arabs and Muslims in the audience.





"We know what it's like to be accosted simply for being who we are," Thayer says. "These attacks are the worst I've seen


in my adult lifetime and they have to stop."





Thayer runs through the issues of Vieques, civil liberties, hate crimes enforcement and Israel. He insists that Democrats


cannot be trusted. He exemplifies their acquiescence to Republican policies with the way that Senator Feinstein proposed


legislation that would bar non-resident aliens from enrolling in American commercial and technical schools. He finishes


with a call for an independent movement that depends on "our politics." The crowd cheers.





Dennis, 40-ish, in traveler's attire, strums a guitar and coaxes many in gathering to sing along to Woody Guthrie's "This


Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land." He mentions that Guthrie wrote it after getting sick and tired of hearing "God


Bless America."





"Nobody living will ever slow me down," he says.





Hakim, of No Racist Attacks, thanks everyone and states his opposition to attacks on Arabs and Muslims. He mourns


the lives lost and mentions that yesterday marked the first anniversary of the latest intifada against the State of Israel. His


organization sent a statement to the American people expressing sorrow for what happened on September 11.





"Palestinian people know the greatest sorrow. We have been suffering for fifty years while Israel continues to defy United


Nations Resolutions 242 and 338 which call for Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip." He


mentions that Arabs and Muslims continue to be the targets of hate crimes.





"Many of those targeted are undocumented, and they are not documented for fear of reprisals," he states. "At this minute


everyone should be Arab." His statement is met by cheers.





"When Jews are attacked we should all be Jews. When lesbians and gays are attacked we should all be lesbians and


gays. There should be no racism among us. People have fought and died for civil liberties -- we cannot stand for this


[climate of attacks on civil liberties]."





Signs rise above the sea of faces that include Don't Turn Tragedy Into War, and DePaul Students Against War and


Racism. A number of high-school students shout out their schools' names: Oak Park, River Forest, Whitney Young.


Colleges represented are DePaul, Loyola, University of Chicago, Wheaton College and Goshen College.





People are led in song to the accompaniment of other voices and clapping.





"Soon and very soon / We are going to change this world," is interchanged with other beginning verses: "Stand with Arabs


and Muslims..., Peace in the Middle East..., Not in my name..., Young and old together...." As the song leader finishes


she takes up a small black girl in a turquoise top who beams and enthusiastically combs her long peppered hair.





The crowd of 800 starts into motion over the Chicago River. One part of the marchers chants "1 - 2 - 3 - 4 / We don't


want your racist war." Others chant "No war / In our name / Islam / Is not to blame." Still others chant "1 - 2 - 3 - 4 / We


don't want your fascist war / 5 - 6 -7 - 8 / Organize to smash the state."





Passing over a sightseeing boat tour and a row of sailboats sitting on the river to the east, the marchers pass by a couple


of city workers in bright orange protective vests on the bridge. Catching the word "racist" in the air, the white woman asks


her black co-worker, "It's not racist, is it?"





A French man walking with his family responds to the march with few words. "I agree with [the protestors]," he says.





Ed, a white, 40-ish Chicago resident wears a t-shirt emblazoned with an eagle's head design and "USA" with red, white


and blue stripes.





"I don't agree with them but everyone's got their own right to protest," he says. "Honestly, everyone [who perpetrated the


bombing] should be hung. I'm not against any particular race or ethnicity, though."





The march stalls in front of Randolph. As four CTA buses pass by one driver honks in support, briefly raising his fist as he


drives by. Twenty Chicago police officers and another four on bicycles direct people through the middle of the


intersection and hold up traffic.





K.W., a black woman from Waukegan in town with her family for the day, watches with others from the steps of the


Cultural Center as people stream by.





"I'm for the march, but not for killing," she says. "There shouldn't be a negative response. It's not going to bring anything


but more killing."





A Chinese American woman doctor from New York City sternly disagrees with the march. She lives a mile from the site


of the World Trade Center and wasn't expecting to deal with the number of casualties she did on the day of the disaster.





"They have a right to march, but people need to be held accountable," she says.





The march turns south on Wabash, sticking to the sidewalk. A tall black man with a black knitted skullcap leads some


people in a few chants on his megaphone.





"1 - 2 - 3 - 4 / We don't want your racist war / 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 / We will not cooperate."





At the corner of State and Washington a couple express surprise at the numbers in the march.





"I can't believe how many people are out here," says Candace from Michigan. "I assumed most of the country was for


war," she says. Vinh, of Chicago, seems to agree but both decline to comment on what they think would be a proper US


response.





One block south an older, white gentleman with his wife gives the marchers a big thumbs-down.





"I am not for this," he states emphatically. "We should be doing what we need to do to go after the perpetrators.


Whatever it is we need to do to pull this country together, that's what we need to do."





"I am not in support of the war," says an unrelated peer of his, a few paces away. "War only brings about more violence.


We bombed Iraq 10 years ago, and I don't approve of that. Hopefully we can have a more peaceful resolution to this.


America is bankrupt diplomatically, but we still need to talk. Look, if I break your nose and you break mine then we've


both got broken noses," he says. "I'm Depaul Genska, a Catholic priest."





Near State and Madison a 40-ish white man aggressively yells something at the marchers but doesn't repeat it upon


request.





A Nigerian Sister of Jesus the Savior, a student at DePaul University, feels that the scope of the bombing is "beyond my


human comprehension."





"We need to think about the [World Trade Center] events," she says. "I'm shocked to see this march -- I didn't know


people would come together."





Three toddlers enjoy a ride in a squeaky red wagon as people bottleneck between 4-foot-high concrete barriers that


surround the Dirksen Building. Next to the Immigration and Naturalization Service offices people yell "Stop the hate /


Stop the fear / Immigrants / Are welcome here" and "No more tragedy into war / We won't take it anymore." No More


Victims Anywhere reads one sign.





Hector Reyes of the International Socialist Organization states to the crowd that Bush cannot have it both ways, that he


cannot be for liberty while detaining immigrants.





"We have something to say to Bush--"





"'Fuck you,'" says someone in the crowd, finishing Reyes' statement.





"If anyone says that this is a peaceful nation, it is a lie," he continues. "Just look at the island of Vieques -- the racism and


scapegoating go back many years." He introduces a Puerto Rican man who begins by saying that it is a great honor to be


speaking this afternoon about Vieques. He condemns the event of September 11, saying that "we" need to define what


terrorism is. His statement is followed with applause. He goes on to point out that for the people of Vieques their land has


been a land of bombs. He notes that the United States Armed Forces are the ones who have bombed the island for 60


years.





"When I saw planes crash into the World Trade Center buildings I knew with my own eyes what terrorism is," he says. "I


wondered if these people will feel the same thing when the people of Colombia are sprayed with chemicals. Or when they


see the people of Cuba when their hotels are bombed by the mafia from Florida, or the hunger in South Africa, South


America and Asia."





The man finishes by saying that he believes people are moved mainly by a desire to have peace, not war, and that people


are going to stay together and multiply because people of peace are united.





Rafael is the last speaker before the people leave the plaza on the last leg of their march.





"I was asked if I belong to any organization -- I'm with the good guys, with humankind," he says. "We're in this big ship


together, and we must fight together. Someone provoked me back there, saying, 'If you don't like it, there are many flights


leaving from O'Hare.' I'd say the same thing." He chuckles and his audience smiles. He continues by saying that he feels a


sense of trying of unite humankind for peace.





"What is the solution if it is not going after the bombers?" he asks. "The solution is not hate. We do not hate American


people, we do not hate people around the world. This started before September 11, and immigrants have been suffering


much. They've been feeling the militarization of the border. [The government] has been trying to quiet the voices of


immigrants with indefinite detentions. What I am speaking about are the germs of the solution. As the movement grows we


will go beyond just peace demands. We will want more money for schools. The next day we will want more money to


promote culture and to end poverty. I know this because I have had experiences from the Gulf War. I know that


eventually we will have unity all over the world."





Reyes comes back and finishes up by railing against "secret evidence" that has been used against immigrants. With this


manuever the Immigration and Naturalization Service can process and deport people without disclosing the information


that the accused need for their legal representation.





"Hell no / We won't go / We won't fight your racist war" chant the people as they pick up and squeeze past the concrete


barriers, cross the street and squeeze into the Federal Plaza area.





"It's good that people are marching and expressing their feelings," says one young man from Colombia with two female


friends. "I don't know what should be done about the World Trade Center bombing."





The marchers circle around the Post Office building before arriving at their final destination in the center of the plaza. A


placard in their midst shows a perspective line-art drawing of high-rise buildings against a shiny, silver background.


Scrawled in black marker are the words "Violence Is Useless." One man's shoulder-slung bag features a number of


political buttons, one which appears to be a campaign button but actually reads "Bush Cheated," referring to the


controversial election of 2000.





The handfuls of passerby mostly observe the marchers with plain expressions. One open-aired, trolley-like vehicle goes


by with a load of blank-faced passengers, except for one light-complexioned black man in the last row. He appears


practically photogenic as his smile of support and two fingers raised in a peace symbol contrast with the motionlessness of


the other passengers.





A new steel-and-glass office building is half finished opposite the plaza's northeast corner. A large white bedsheet hangs


on one side reading "God Bless America." As four white construction workers in helmet, boots and gloves look on, one


throws his hand at the protestors and heckles them.





"They support terrorism by not supporting America," says Mike Standley of St. John, Indiana. "The US is psyching [the


terrorists] out right now. It's about guilt. I find these marchers disgusting. If we don't go after the terrorists, who will?"





Tedd Cain of the Chicago Ad Hoc Coalition Against War and Racism speaks to the assembled demonstrators. He calls


attention to the words of General Norman Schwartzkoff who commented shortly after September 11 that "we need to


start killing people."





"The one thing I would call for is justice," counterposed Cain. A large flag near him looks almost like an American flag


except that it has the famous circular peace symbol in place of the 50 stars. America Be Great - Don't Kill the Innocent


reads one sign. US Hands Off Afghanistan, Iraq reads another. Other placards read Nurture Democracy in the Middle


East and Bosses' "National Unity" Means Layoffs and Repression.





A marker-drawn, multicolored sign features a Benjamin Franklin quote: "Those who would give up essential liberty to


purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither."





Paula Sejut of Loyola University and an activist in Students Against Sweatshops and Amnesty International spoke to the


assembly.





"What are we going to do -- what's the next step? It's easy to stand here with people who agree with you, but what about


everyone else? Many people are scared, they don't know what to do. We need to reach out to those people and talk to


them. Some people just want something to be a part of."

ckaihatsu.blogspot.com


 
 

Donate

Views

Account Login

Media Centers

 

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software