WASHINGTON – From every point of the compass, thousands of protesters will pour into the nation’s capital April 20 for a march to demand, “Stop the war at home and abroad.”
Many streams of the peace and justice movement will converge in the largest anti-war protest since George W. Bush declared his open-ended global “war on terrorism” after Sept. 11.
Diane Schurr, an organizer with the Cleveland Non-Violence Network in Cleveland, Ohio, told the World three buses will come from Cleveland and more from other cities around Ohio. “There is a strong sense of urgency but not of doom and gloom,” she said. “There is hope because so many diverse groups are coming together and saying, ‘There has to be a better way.’”
Michael Letwin, president of United Auto Workers Local 2325, which represents Legal Aid attorneys and co-coordinator of New York City Labor Against the War, told the World a contingent of trade unionists will march.
“The war is plundering our economy at home and generating racism and anti-immigrant backlashm,” he said. “The current Israeli attack on the Palestinian people is carrying this war to a whole new level. It is American arms and money that is making this possible.”
Altaf Husain, a graduate student at Howard University and the national president of the Muslim Student Association said thousands of Muslim students will march. The war in Afghanistan and now the Israeli occupation of Palestine have “affected Muslims of all backgrounds, not just Arabs.” He deplored the detention of hundreds of people of Arab or Asian background who have no connection with terrorism. “There is an air of intimidation of people, that ‘If you’re not with us, you’re against us.’”
Libero Della Piana, national coordinator of the Young Communist League (YCL), said the YCL will have two contingents at the march – one with the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC) and the other with the Communist Party USA. “It was visionary of the youth and student peace coalition to initiate this march and rally,” he said. “Who would have imagined last October that tens of thousands would march in protest against Bush’s ‘war on terrorism?’”
Erica Smiley, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leader of the youth caucus of the Black Radical Congress, said many buses are coming from the south. “People who have been complacent had had their eyes opened by the events of the past few months,” she said. “All of a sudden they are being radicalized by what is happening.”
Julie Ren, a freshman at Wesleyan College in Connecticut and an organizer with the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, said, “We are laying the groundwork for a much broader movement, a long-term commitment to the struggle to end the war at home and abroad.”
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