2007 in Review:
Looking back and looking forward
Over the past six years, the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition has played a vital and irreplaceable role in building the people’s movement in the United States. The importance of that fact cannot be overstated. The creation of a powerful grassroots movement is key to ending the war in Iraq and changing an overall political direction that threatens widening disaster.
Many of you reading these words have actively participated in and supported A.N.S.W.E.R.’s activities, and we ask for your continued support as we enter the coming year. Our work together has made a difference and your tax-deductible support will help us take the next steps.
Whether you have contributed before, or you are making your first donation, there is no better time to help. By making your year-end tax-deductible donation now, you can help the anti-war movement and deprive the Pentagon of your dollars it would otherwise use against the people of Iraq or to launch a new war against Iran.
During this past year we have reached new heights, encouraged more and more people to join the anti-war and social justice movement and continued to forge a principled and broad-based grassroots opposition to the government's war for empire.
March on the Pentagon
On March 17, 2007, A.N.S.W.E.R. organized the March on the Pentagon, marking the 40th anniversary of the historic “From Protest to Resistance” march during the Vietnam War. Hundreds of veterans, active duty servicepersons and their families led tens of thousands who marched despite a massive snowstorm that hit the Northeast. Tens of thousands more marched in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities, marking the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
This demonstration illustrated the promise of drawing new forces into anti-war activism: students and young workers, families and labor as well as growing the participation of Iraq veterans, active-duty personnel and their families.
Fall Anti-War Protests
In the late spring, A.N.S.W.E.R. issued a call which posed the question: Can a people’s movement in the United States overcome the commitment of the White House, Congress and the Pentagon to authorize, extend and finance the war and occupation in Iraq?
This strategy guided plans for the protests on Sept. 15 in Washington, D.C. and on Oct. 27 around the country.
On September 15, the day that the Gen. Petraeus report on Iraq was due, A.N.S.W.E.R. joined with Veterans for Peace, National Council of Arab Americans, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, U.S. Labor Against the War and many others to sponsor a march of 100,000 people from the White House to Congress. Thousands joined a dramatic “Die-In” surrounding the Capitol Building. 190 people were arrested by Capitol riot police who tried to stop protestors from taking their anti-war message to Congress.
A.N.S.W.E.R. heard from people from all over the country who said that this was the first demonstration they had ever participated in and that for each it was a significant shift in their political lives.
In an assessment, A.N.S.W.E.R. national coordinator Brian Becker wrote “The Sept. 15 March on Washington was unique. When the large crowd, with so many high school and college students in attendance, poured into the streets, the excitement and buzz was palpable. People knew they were part of something very special, something different from the earlier anti-war marches. This may be a harbinger of an even greater unity in the anti-war movement among Iraq war veterans and military families, the Arab American and Muslim communities, students and youth, the immigrant rights movement and other oppressed working-class communities.”
The very next month, A.N.S.W.E.R. played a major role in organizing the October 27th National Day of Protest against the Iraq war. A.N.S.W.E.R. initiated the October 27th demonstrations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, South Florida, Seattle and Chattanooga, Tenn., and joined fully in mobilizing for marches and rallies in Boston, Chicago and other cities.
Fighting for Our Free Speech Rights
Time and again the government has tried to stop significant anti-war mobilizations from happening, threatening fines or revocation of permits, but the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition has refused to capitulate and has carried out massive demonstrations in furtherance of fundamental First Amendment rights. The government tried to stop the March on the Pentagon, initially refusing permits and threatening to charge tens of thousands of dollars for our free speech rights, but A.N.S.W.E.R. refused to pay a dime and mobilizing a legal and political campaign, prevailed for this historic march.
When A.N.S.W.E.R. used the time-honored tradition of postering to spread the word about the September 15 March on Washington, the government suddenly levied an unprecedented $40,000 in fines targeting A.N.S.W.E.R. for this lawful activity. Then it arrested speakers at an A.N.S.W.E.R. press conference opposing the fines across the street from the White House and police charged the assembled media on horseback. A.N.S.W.E.R. refused to take down the signs until after September 15, and not only refused to pay the illegally issued fines, but filed a free speech lawsuit in federal court challenging the government's unconstitutional postering regulations.
The Jena 6
In the midst of organizing 2007's nationally significant anti-war actions, the case of six young Black men in Jena, La. came to public light. A.N.S.W.E.R. as an anti-war and anti-racist organization responded. Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R. leaders at Howard University organized 2,000 students in a rally to support the Jena 6. Organizers from around the country traveled to Louisiana on several occasions to help foster activism around the case, culminating in the Sept. 20 march for justice of 50,000 people.
On November 7, when the last of the six African American high school students was back in court on trumped-up charges, A.N.S.W.E.R.-sponsored demonstrations were held in ten cities, including New York, Washington, New Haven, Chicago, Sioux Falls (SD), Miami, Los Angeles, Reno, Seattle and San Francisco. In New York City, ANSWER activists and volunteers petitioned on behalf of the Jena 6, collecting thousands of signatures in Harlem.
The nature of these activities, and the strategy to bring new forces into the anti-war movement is working.
Around the country, and the world
A.N.S.W.E.R. offices around the country are centers of activism. In San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition has full time offices filled with volunteers working to end the war, doing community organizing and outreach, holding educational forums, teach-ins, and film showings.
These A.N.S.W.E.R. centers make the connections between national organizing and community issues as they are filled with grassroots activists fighting local struggles, bringing more people into the anti-war movement, and building national and regional mobilizations. The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition regularly makes its resources available to other organizations, including student, labor, immigrant rights and community groups.
In New London, Conn., A.N.S.W.E.R. organized a protest against Bush outside the Coast Guard Academy where he delivered the commencement address. In Los Angeles, A.N.S.W.E.R. co-organized with Latino Movement USA a massive rally for immigrant rights on April 7. In New York City, A.N.S.W.E.R. organized support rallies against CIA intervention in Venezuela. In Washington, D.C. A.N.S.W.E.R. organized against the record fare increase for public transit. In Chicago, A.N.S.W.E.R. activists helped organize and participated in rallies against police brutality and LGBT bigotry. In Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., A.N.S.W.E.R. has lent their hand to the struggle of the Immokalee Farm Workers. These are but a few examples of the vibrant organizing going on every day out of A.N.S.W.E.R. offices around the country.
A.N.S.W.E.R. is growing with new offices or chapters around the country including in Oakland, Calif., Baltimore, Md., Sioux Falls S.D., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Reno, Nev., Chattanooga Tenn., and Ventura County, Calif.
Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R. organizers are leaders in the national A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and on the local level. In several cities, Youth & Student A.N.S.W.E.R. has sponsored very popular “Lyrical Revolt,” evenings of spoken word, dance and other cultural performances that have filled to capacity.
The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition has contiued to take an active role in organizing support for the targeted Arab and Muslim community in the United States. We have vigorously supported the defendants in the politically-motivated Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas TX, and continued our support for Dr. Sami Al-Arian who remains unjustly incarcerated in U.S. jails despite being found not guilty by a U.S. jury. The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition participated in and supported the work of the Al-Awda Convention and has continued to raise the Right of Return of the Palestinian people as a fundamental principle in support of self-determination for those oppressed by colonialism.
In April, A.N.S.W.E.R. made a call for demonstrations demanding the extradition of the CIA-sponsored Cuban right-wing terrorist Luis Posada Carriles who has been harbored in the United States and who has organized attacks on civilians including the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 which killed all 73 people on board. On May 11, the day that Posada was due to appear in court in El Paso, Texas, demonstrations were held in that city, New York, Washington, Albuquerque, Pittsburgh, Charlotte (N.C.), Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and other U.S. cities; Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal, Canada; and cities across Latin America, including Buenos Aires, Argentina, Santiago de Chile and Mexico City.
Throughout the year, A.N.S.W.E.R. has continued to support the work of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, and participated in many activities in solidarity with other political prisoners, including Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal, the Angola 3 and the San Francisco 8.
This month the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition send a delegation to represent the U.S. anti-war movement and speak at the World Against War International Peace Conference in London. A.N.S.W.E.R. delegations have traveled to Venezuela, Cuba, Japan and Canada over the past year to participate in anti-war and other international solidarity events.
As we move forward, it is imperative to grow this changing people’s movement in order to end the war and achieve justice for the people of this country and the world.
None of what has been gained would have been possible without the support of people like you. For those who have generously given of your time and money, we want to express our profound thanks.
In this season, you will likely receive appeals from many organizations with many important goals. We ask that if you believe that building a vibrant, growing and powerful people’s movement against war and racism here in the U.S. is of great importance, you will make as generous a tax deductible donation as possible.
Yours in solidarity,
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Partnership for Civil Justice
Malik Rahim, Common Ground Collective New Orleans, La.
P.S. Your donation to Progress Unity Fund/ANSWER is tax-deductible. Let’s keep as many anti-war dollars as possible out of the Pentagon’s coffers!