FALL RIVER, Mass. — More than 200 people rallied at Bristol Community College here July 6 to demand an end to the war in Iraq.
The crowd of local activists cheered as Charlie Richardson and Nancy Lessin from Military Families Speak Out called for the immediate return of U.S. troops from Iraq and for setting up the programs to take care of the returning troops. They emphasized the slogan, “Not one more life for a lie!” and received a standing ovation.
The main speaker at the activity, which was organized by the local Coalition for Social Justice, was Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). He emphasized the need for people to “get together to put pressure on Congress to act.” McGovern made it clear that the legislators would not get “religion all of a sudden” and act to put an end to the war without popular pressure.
McGovern talked about his recent trip to Iraq and Lebanon. In Iraq, he said, commanders told the troops not to speak to him. In Lebanon, those who opposed Syria’s military presence in the country told him not to do anything to help them. They emphasized that any U.S. involvement would only hurt their cause.
“The country is moving in the wrong direction,” McGovern said, “and it’s time to bring this sad chapter in American history to an end.”
The lawmaker told the crowd the U.S. is borrowing money from Japan and China to pay for the war. “This war will bankrupt our treasury. It’s time to change course.” He said that if campus meetings like this occurred throughout the U.S., the war would come to an end.
Brian Pastori, a student activist at the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth, said McGovern clearly described the “rush to war” by the right wing. “The event laid out the quagmire that Iraq is for the U.S.,” he said. “It also showed that there is strong support for the immediate withdrawal from Iraq in southeastern Massachusetts.”
The activity ended with a presentation by local rap artist Gremlin, who asked the participants to picture a different world without war and money. He also asked people to support him and a group of young people who want to go to the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students in Caracas, Venezuela, next month.
Meanwhile, local right-wing talk shows, led by WSAR’s Barry Richards, have started a vicious redbaiting campaign against the Coalition for Social Justice and Rep. McGovern for their positions against the war in Iraq.