Protests against the Iraq war and occupation have been going on since long before the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Demonstrators have poured into the streets in national actions, and have held marches, vigils and other protests in their local communities.

Now something new is under way: 11 coordinated regional demonstrations on Saturday, Oct. 27, organized by United for Peace and Justice.

These demonstrations aim to welcome and galvanize into action the “silent majority” who oppose the war but have not yet joined the active peace movement.

Demonstrators will gather in Boston, Chicago, Jonesborough, Tenn., Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle, making participation accessible to large parts of the country.

Mass participation is particularly important now, as the struggle continues in Congress over funding the war. The demonstrations can send an unmistakable message to the Republicans on Capitol Hill who continue to back the Bush administration’s murderous course in Iraq: Listen to your constituents or face a rout in 2008 that will make last November look like a picnic.

The urgency of ending the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and preventing war with Iran, is underscored by soaring casualty figures. In Iraq over 3,800 U.S. troops, and countless Iraqis, have died, and many thousands have been grievously wounded.

Meanwhile, the lives of Iraqi civilians continue to deteriorate, as unemployment festers, “reconstruction” fades and neighborhoods crumble in increasing isolation.

The war is taking a heavy toll here at home, too. The American Friends Service Committee points out that it has already cost over $1 trillion, and that cost is growing by $720 million a day. At the same time, dozens of domestic programs have been slashed, including Head Start, affordable housing, and maternal and child health programs. At stake now is one such program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, SCHIP.

Oct. 27, the National Day of Protest Against the Iraq War can be a crucial step to get all the troops home. Bring your neighbors, family and co-workers!