HOUSTON — On Nov. 19 over 200 Houston activists gathered to protest against the war on Iraq, marching from Market Square to City Hall. The event was sponsored by a coalition of 20 organizations to include Veterans for Peace, United Methodists for Peace, Catholics for Peace, the Progressive Action Alliance, the Progressive Workers Organizing Committee among others.

Protesters chanted, “What do we want? Stop the war! When do we want it? Now!”

The protest was rescheduled from Sept. 17, but had to be postponed because of the impact of. Hurricane Rita.

Chris O’Toole is an independent filmmaker who is making a documentary on political activism. She told the World, “I’m here to observe how people use their right and freedom of speech and to document on film the compassionate leadership in our community that’s been ignored for too long and also to speak out. … This war is not good for our society.”

Carolyn Kelly said, “I’m only here to show support for coming out of Iraq, and I brought my relatives who have never marched against the war and I thought that was important.” She added, “We can’t trust the people currently in power,” noting that she feels embarrassed to be a Texan because “the great pretender is from Texas.”

Another demonstrator, Sharon, quickly corrected her: “I want people to know that George W. Bush and his father George H. W. Bush were not born in Texas. I am a native Texan and I don’t want to be associated with them.”

Bob Carter, an activist with the Progressive Action Alliance and Houston Coalition for Justice Not War, said, “The Iraq war was illegal, immoral, unnecessary and counterproductive. We have become the terrorists to eradicate terrorists.”

“That’s absurd,” said Carter. “We need to bring the troops home now!”

A Teamster and Green Party member who asked to remain anonymous told the World, “I think what’s going on with the war is morally wrong and morally irresponsible. Like so many other people in our country, I feel that there’s so much that needs to be done here to take care of the needs of our people. As a trade unionist, I cannot support an administration that turns its back on its own people.”

He continued, “The vast majority that are going to feel the full impact of this war are going to be people like me, the working-class people, and are not going to be the privileged or the elite. … While I don’t know the Iraqi civilians, I do feel a strong sense of solidarity with the Iraqi people whose babies are hungry and sick. Their mothers cry and hurt just as parents of children in our country. Their mothers and fathers love their children just the same as I love my children.”

One of the organizers of the protest, David Michael Smith of the Progressive Workers Organizing Committee, reflected on the protest. “We’re very pleased with the turnout and the energy today,” he said. “We are at an important crossroads today. Most people oppose the war and want our troops brought home, but we’re going to have to build a bigger, more powerful people’s movement to force the government to end this carnage.”

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