Peace Demonstration In LA
by Susan Schwartz (e-mail SUECOCNEWS@...
October 5, 2001
More than 2,500 people demonstrated in front of the Federal Building in
Los Angeles on Saturday with a scant three days notice, surpassing the
expectations of even its most optimistic organizers. The rally was in
support of peace and justice and demanded an end to hate crimes and what
appears to be a drive by the Bush administration to mount an irrational large
scale war against Islam.
The event was jointly sponsored by the Arab American Anti-Discrimination
Committee (ADC); the International Action Center (IAC), and The Coalition for
Many demonstrators faced Wilshire Boulevard, a main thoroughfare in Los
Angeles. The waves and honks they received from passing motorists indicated
a grass roots support not immediately obvious from scanning the major media
About half of the demonstrators began to march along the road leading to the
campus of UCLA. When they returned some thirty minutes later, it was
apparent that they had been joined by students there.
Giant banners in the vanguard of the marchers were held aloft by at
least five people each and read: "Stop the War! Defend our Civil
Liberties!"; "Act Now to end Racist War! End Racism"; and "Solidarity with
Arab-Americans. Stop Attacks on Muslims".
Welcoming the marchers, the demonstrators who remained at the Federal
Building chanted: "One, two, three, four, we don't want your racist war;
five, six , seven, eight, stop the violence, stop the hate!"
Speakers included John Parker from one of the sponsoring
organizations, IAC. He spoke of his recent trip to Iraq which provided him
with an on site view of the destruction of innocents as a result of United
States sanctions. He warned of a bigger war should indiscriminate bombing
take place as retribution for the attacks of September 11th.
Michel Shehadeh of the ADC, another sponsoring group, demanded no
more killing of innocents. He said that we will not tolerate a loss of civil
liberties nor will we tolerate the view that terrorism is an inherent part of
Theresa Bonpane of the Office of the Americas warned the crowd
that justice and revenge are not synonymous.
Jim Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) said that what
the Bush administration wants is to kill more innocents. We must say a
resounding "no" to hate crimes and to war.
Speakers reminded the crowd that this was the one year
anniversary of the second Intifada and that we must have solidarity with the
Palestinian people in their valiant struggle against America's step-child,
The crowd was an eglectic mixture of races, religions and ages.
When interviewed as to their reason for taking part, the responses were
strikingly similar. "We can't have a war that will target innocents";
"Bush's inflammatory rhetoric has given the green light to hate mongers".
"We must never give up our civil liberties".
During the rally an announcement was made. Should the United
States engage in bombing, a protest will be held in front of the Federal
Building at five PM PDT on the day of the bombing. Should the bombing be
announced after five PM PDT, the demonstration will be held at Five PM PDT
the following day.
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