Over 100 people gathered at Pershing Square Park in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, June 21 under the banner “No new war on Iraq!”
Chanting “Just advisers? That’s a lie! Where the Pentagon goes, people die!” demonstrators poured out of the park and into the streets, taking over all lanes of traffic.
The march—joined by Iraqi nationals, veterans, military families and union members—was a very loud, widely-seen presence on Spring and Broadway streets—two major working-class residential and shopping strips in downtown.
Police cars tried to push the demonstration off of the street and announced over loudspeakers that the protest was “unlawful,” but the marchers were unfazed, and wove through the city bringing the message of united opposition to the recent U.S. military escalation in Iraq to the people in the city.
Emaq Khaleq, a Palestinian refugee and organizer with the ANSWER Coalition, said at the rally “the U.S. government uses the lie of ‘humanitarianism’ when they justify their wars. This same government supports and participates in crimes against humanity all over the world. They only use ‘human rights’ when it’s convenient for their war plans. We’re not falling for it!”
Many of the protesters had been active in the anti-war movement through the Iraq war years, but there was also a large number of youth who had never been to a protest before. One of them, Oscar Hernandez, 19, told Liberation News “I grew up knowing this country was at war with Iraq for oil. My peers all thought the same thing. When I saw it all happening again, I knew I had to take a stand. I want this country to focus on things that make our lives better, not destroying other people’s countries for greed.”
Sponsors and speakers at the protest included ANSWER LA; Veterans For Peace; Military Families Speak Out; Arab Americans for Syria; Union of Progressive Iranians; Riverside Area Peace and Justice Action; Women Organized to Resist and Defend; United Teachers of Los Angeles; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); KmB Pro-People Youth; AF3IRM; Party for Socialism and Liberation; and many more.