Boston speak-out

Connecticut says no to warOn the weekend of March 18-20, almost 800 communities in all 50 states had some type of action to bring the troops home from Iraq and end the U.S. occupation there.

Iraq war veterans stood shoulder to shoulder with military families whose loved ones have died in Iraq. The Iraq Veterans Against the War condemned the “seemingly endless war” that distinguishes the Bush administration.

Clergy and Laity Concerned About Iraq, alone, organized over 300 events. The group is also launching a campaign this week to generate a million letters for “peace, not poverty,” and is co-sponsoring a “Break the Silence” bus tour that rolls out of New York April 4, passes through Philadelphia and goes on to the Midwest and South.

Below is a sampling of mostly first-hand reports from just a few of the actions around the country. We’ll have more coverage next week.

On March 17, activists started walking to San Diego from Oceanside, 40 miles away. They drove 240 crosses into the sandy beaches around Camp Pendleton, honoring the local Marines killed in the war. They joined more than 600 people protesting here March 20.

Thousands of trade unionists, peace activists and a rainbow of LA residents marched down Hollywood Blvd. to deliver the message of peace. Before stepping off, Iraq war veterans told their stories.

OXNARD, Calif.
Carrying picket signs reading, “Cut the War Budget, Not Education,” hundreds of college students here and in Ventura staged walkouts March 15 to protest deep budget cuts resulting in teacher layoffs and cancelled courses.

Lara Shapiro-Snair, managing editor of the Ventura College Press, said, “It’s our right and indeed our duty to stand up and fight for what we believe in. We need to make our voices heard. Silence will get us nowhere!”

Union members led 10,000 marchers from Dolores Park to the civic center for a rally that grew in size as the day went on. United for Peace and Justice members held up huge panels of photos of Americans and Iraqis who have died in the war.

A year ago, Jesse Villanueba, 23, was a Marine walking the dusty roads of Iraq. On March 19, he stood before hundreds of his neighbors, calling on them to get involved and get our troops home.

At the Capitol, protesters staged a “die-in” honoring Americans and Iraqis killed in the war. The march continued to the offices of Halliburton, a major war profiteer, where demonstrators piled the names of the dead and laid a wreath at the corporation’s front door.

On the boardwalk of this resort city, Landres Bryant, 16, joined 200 people protesting the war. Bryant had spent many a Saturday afternoon on the boardwalk with his friends. Then he started reading about the war online. On March 19, he made his first protest speech.

“It’s just a way of expressing myself and getting visibility,” he said. “People are giving their lives for something they haven’t been given a reason for.”


Nearly 500 people here marched behind 30 flag-draped coffins to a town hall meeting to discuss the war. As the sun set, another group of residents lit candles and sang songs. They caught the attention of drivers who honked in support or gave a thumbs-up.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo led 3,000 people on a two-mile march from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Local elected officials and students carried a banner demanding an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Diane Davis Santoriello, whose son 1st Lt. Neil Anthony Santoriello Jr. was killed in August in Iraq, told the rally, “The only antidote to my complete despair became the desire to keep other families from going through my experience. … I fear for the future of my country.”

“Are we safer yet?” was the hand-printed sign carried by hundreds of opponents of the Iraq war March 20.

One large group hailed from the Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village, which has held a weekly peace vigil every Sunday for two years.

“This should be the concern of every good person, to stand against war,” said Martha Fullington, a church member. “I’m happy to see this outlet for people standing up for peace.”

Among the 700 people who gathered here March 20 were Carol Whitener, 49, and her son Matthew, 9. They carried two cardboard tombstones, each bearing the names of an American soldier and an Iraqi citizen killed in the war.

As Whitener put her tombstone down amid the hundreds of others, she started to cry. She could have been carrying one with the name of her other son, 20, or her brother, who served in Iraq.

In all, 1,521 tombstones — built by volunteers in church basements, school cafeterias and living rooms — filled the area near the art museum. The display will move to various locations around the city, adding tombstones as people continue to die in the war.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696 @ Marilyn Bechtel, José A. Cruz, Paul Hill and Jim Lane contributed to this week’s clips.