Sep 20: Students Across Country Organize Peace Protest Nationwide!
On Thursday, September 20, 2001, student groups from at least 82 campuses across the US called for a just and peaceful protests. Here are some links to local coverage:
Students Announce 'Peaceful Justice' Petition
There are many different opinions regarding what the United States should do about last week's terrorist attacks.
While the percentage of people who think that the United States should react with military action is high, some groups are speaking out in support of peace.
A coalition of students from California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a petition drive Thursday at noon opposing military action in favor of "peaceful justice."
The petition is the result of a new cooperation between the students of the two campuses, according to a local news wire.
The students are calling for "a reasoned and rational response that respects the rule of law and aims to protect further loss of life."
"In addition to dealing with the present threat of terrorism, we need to overcome the cycle of violence and address its root causes," said Jennifer Caron of Caltech's Peaceful Justice Coalition.
Students at the University of California are also coordinating with fellow students in 30 states to "reaffirm the sanctity of life by seeking peace and justice" in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
Activists Wednesday night gathered at a church on Wilshire Boulevard, hoping to promote peace and avoid more violence.
"This is a time when we need to question our government and all the countries because these are the people (who) are making the decisions that are causing the deaths," attendee Tahitia Dean told CBS2.
Opinions on the matter were also heard during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles Wednesday night.
A wide spectrum of views were heard about what America's next step should be in response to terrorism.
Anti-war rally in downtown draws hundreds
By Troy Anderson, LA Daily News
Friday, September 21, 2001
An emerging anti-war movement in Los Angeles held its second vigil Thursday evening in Pershing Square in downtown, drawing 300 to 400 people.
Men in Aztec dress pounded on drums and women in colorful headdresses danced as protesters held up signs to passing motorists, many of whom honked apparently in support and some yelled indecipherable jeers out their windows.
Protesters played flutes, held up rainbow flags with peace symbols
and signs that read, "An eye for an eye makes the
whole world blind -- Gandhi" and "The death of more innocents will not make us safe."
Sally Marr, an organizer for newly emerged Coalition for World Peace said the vigil is the second one the group has held since the first one Sunday at Griffith Park which attracted about 300 people.
"We are forming it to counterbalance the retaliatory and militaristic attitudes in the country, and we are trying to resolve this in a peaceful way," she said. "It's the beginning of an anti-war movement.
"This is not going to be like any war we've ever known. We are trying to stop this before it starts."
East Los Angeles resident Rudy Pisani, 71, a Korean War veteran,
said the U.S. foreign policy has caused enormous
suffering in war-torn Afghanistan and throughout the world.
"Now they have turned against the USA because the USA has always bombed Muslim nations," Pisani said. "People live in caves there. What are we going to bomb? My heart goes out to the innocent people in Washington, D.C., and New York who died. But violence will not solve this."
North Hollywood resident Pawel Chmielewski, 47, said he opposes all wars because many civilians are killed.
"We need to normalize our relations with Iraq and end sanctions against the Palestinians," he said. "This is the reason for the terrorist attack. This has nothing to do with the Muslim religion. They are just fighting back."
Marr said the United States needs to ask why its foreign policies have sparked such hatred.
"The country has been practically leveled to the ground
already by what the Russians did. There are 30 million land
mines the Russians dug into the ground and dropped from airplanes there. If we send in ground forces from America, can you imagine how many people are going to come back without their limbs?"
Organizers said they plan to hold another rally at noon Saturday
at the Federal Building in Westwood, and another one
a week later at the same location.
Sister Elizabeth Prus, 91, of the Catholic Sisters of Social Services said war is useless.
"We are coming down to the level of the people we abhor," she said. "We are not here to do vengeance."
War Threat Ignites Protests At UM
Two groups of students at the University of Michigan on opposite sides of a conflict over war met today for a spirited demonstration on campus.
One group is a newly formed coalition fighting racism and war. The other is a loose-knit group that supports the United States government and the action that President George W. Bush feels is appropriate after the terrorist attacks.
"Whether we bring our enemies to justice or we bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done," Bush said Thursday in a nationally televised speech.
The president's speech came hours after protesters gathered to voice their anti-war sentiments. It was part of a nationwide effort to demonstrate on college campuses Thursday. They were met by a group who favored taking military action to combat terrorism.
"We feel it's important," student Steve Macguidwin, who supports government actions, said.
The students were chanting, waving signs and waving flags. The two groups were just a a few feet away from each other.
It was a peaceful demonstration and police say that there were no problems, although at times it was difficult for either group to hear what was going on as both sides marched under the university's clock tower.
The pro-action group eventually left the site, and the anti-war protesters continued for a short time before gradually disbanding.
A New Coalition Called Portland Peaceful Response called for a demonstration of mourning for the dead, rejection of racism, and a reasoned, non-military response to the terrible crimes of September 11. Despite only two days notice and war fever in the media, 3000 people responded.
Like the rest of the world I was unprepared for the surreal horrors of a week ago. The sheer awful scale of it stunned me.
As if that werent enough, beginning late that day the ugliest part of the American Soul began a procession across the TV screen at my office. Horrible, wild-eyed ghouls called for blood to placate their anger, any blood, even that of innocents, provided they are the same race/religion/nationality as the presumed enemy: George Shultz, Madelyn Albright, James Baker, John Negroponte (with the dried blood of Central America still under his fingernails).
We must curtail civil liberties, they said, surveil our citizens, unleash the CIA to assassinate whomever they choose, pour more money on the sacrificial fires at the Pentagon. Our vengeance must be terrible. To avenge ourselves on our enemies we must become exactly like them. Their sycophants in the press licked their thin lips in excitement.
A few lesser monsters have taken their cue from the greater. Around the country mosques have been attacked; shot at in Dallas, petrol-bombed in Seattle. People have been threatened and assaulted Arab-Americans, but also Hispanics. Anyone with brown skin is a target. In Phoenix a Sikh gas-station owner was shot to death by a self-described American because he took the beard and turban that are traditional for that people of North India, for signs of Arabness, and hence terrorist-ness. Some people are too ignorant even to be good bigots.
Despite all the bombast in the media, when I went into the streets of Porland I did not see its fury reflected there. People were somber, depressed, but I saw no raving. The people I spoke with didnt want to carpet bomb all Muslim countries, nor even just Afghanistan. But they all seemed to think that everyone else in the country did.
The television networks might not be able to sway critically thinking people with their propaganda. But they seem to be able to convince even these people that the rest of the country believes their hateful lies, thinks the way theyre told to, and that those who dont are alone and isolated.
The networks brandish polls to bolster the effect. But the dirty little secrets of the pollsters are that people lie (They dont trust assurances of anonymity. They say what they think theyre expected to say), and many, many people refuse to answer.
The people who refuse to answer do not, as a group, have the same range of opinions as those who do answer the poll takers questions. The opinions of those who answer them do not accurately reflect the opinions of the sample as a whole (they may not even accurately reflect their own views). So poll results are skewed.
Since September 11 Ive avoided television. I have decided to live in the world I see around me instead of the world as they portray it.
The next day, September 12th, all the headlines screamed war. Congress stampeded to hand G.W. Bush whatever he asked for (unanimously except for one Representative from Northern California, Barbara Lee). Restrictions on roving wire taps by the FBI were removed. Before the bodies buried in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were even cold, oil companies had raised gasoline prices and the FBI had shown up at the offices of internet service providers with Carnivore devices to collect the email of millions of people. Theyll sift through them later looking for keywords like; bomb, terrorist, PGP, Marx, and Nike.
What a great racket the State Security agencies have. The more the CIA, FBI, and the rest screw up, the more money and power Congress gives them. I wish my job were like that.
I heard that there would be a meeting that night of people opposed to the spasm of racism and warmongering. I made up my mind to shake off my feelings of powerlessness and frustration, and attend. What I found there was about 60 people of many races, most of them young, who were determined not to allow this terrible crime to be answered with still more crimes. Just being around them made me feel stronger and less alienated.
We decided that we would do two things: Some of us would place ourselves on call to come to the aid of any people of color who feel threatened, if only to ease their minds, but also to defend them if necessary. We also would have a public demonstration of our sorrow at the loss of so many lives, our solidarity with the targets of racism, and our desire for a thoughtful, peaceful response to the terrible acts of September 11.
We met again Thursday night to work out the details of the event. We decided to hold a vigil for the dead and bereaved, followed by a procession against racist hate and for peace. The vigil was to be silent except for some singing. Chanting seemed inappropriate to us. We would meet at Portlands South Park Blocks and walk from there around the town square and back to where we began. We agreed on Sunday at noon as the day and time.
Most of the people present at that meeting seemed to think that the violence of September 11 was a reaction to years of unjust US foreign policy that, for the benefit of transnational corporations, thwarts the will of peoples around the world, supports dictators and death squads, and manipulates international financial institutions to keep much of the world poor and in debt.
If the speculation in the media was true, and the people who were willing to kill themselves to kill so many Americans were from the Middle East, then it seemed that US support for Israeli state terror against the Palestinian people, the US governments economic sanctions and routine bombing of Iraq were probably the immediate causes of their hatred. The death of over 500,000 Iraqi children (that, the UN High Commission on Refugees says, has been the result of the deliberate destruction of water treatment plants and hospitals, followed by sanctions on food and medicine) alone would probably be enough. But we decided to put off that critique until another time so that our message would be as clear as possible.
We didnt bother to debate whether we should get a parade permit because a few hundred people walking down the sidewalk do not require one. On Friday the vigil and procession were first announced by email, notice posted to Portland Indymedia, and on KBOO radio. Friday night the flyers were ready. They were distributed on Saturday.
The day was bright, clear and warm when I arrived at the South Park Blocks at 11:30 Sunday morning. A few hundred people had already gathered in the plaza at SW Park and Main, under the shade of huge elm trees. The crowd was quite a mix; old and young, children, hippy-looking folks, trade unionists, professional people. Mostly people of European descent, but there were many people of different races there. People talked in small groups and greeted their friends and neighbors. A knot of them practiced singing songs from lyric sheets we had prepared.
A bronze sculpture of Rachel at the Well stands in a stone shelter at one end of the plaza. A black velvet cloth was spread at its base on which people had begun to place flowers, poems, cards of condolence, and signs pleading for peace. Lit candles had been placed around it.
Some of the organizers who were to usher and protect the crowd along the procession route talked among ourselves. It was looking like the crowd would be much bigger than we expected, and it was going to be a challenge. We found some last-minute recruits from among the activists we knew in the crowd, and hastily briefed them on the itinerary.
By Noon it looked to me like around 1,500 people were gathered under the trees, listening as a few speakers addressed them through a bullhorn. I didnt pay close attention because I was busy helping to explain the route to new ushers and finding a place in the procession for them. Some led prayers for the dead and bereaved, some called for peace and patience in waiting to bring those responsible to justice, some denounced the rise of violent racism in the land.
About 12:30 we began the procession. People poured down the steps, out of the park, into the street. There were too many of us to keep to the sidewalk. Over two thousand, I guessed. We took a lane of traffic as we went around Pioneer Square, a distance of about a mile. We walked quietly or singing, carrying signs that expressed our desire for peace.
There were few police, only a couple bicycle cops, so we had to manage traffic on our own. We redirected traffic so it would not enter streets that were blocked at the other end by the procession. Workers from Tri-Met helped with traffic around the Max train tracks by the square.
Shopping, and driving one's car unimpeded (except by other cars), are the two most sacred rights of an American citizen. Some people were angry with the delay we were causing them. Only one or two became angry because we opposed war.
As I was redirecting traffic, one middle-aged, white guy stopped his pickup truck and asked, What are you Liberals up to, now?
Im not a Liberal; Im a radical. I replied. He just drove away shaking his head. Mother Jones probably got the same response.
No one honked their approval and gave a thumbs up, as many usually do for demonstrations in Portland. I wasnt sure if the reason was that no one approved of us, or it just didnt seem proper at such a solemn scene.
We must have gathered people along the route because when we got back to the South Park Blocks our numbers had swelled further. One fellow from the Boilermakers Union had stood aside near the last block of the route and counted the people who went by. By his estimate the crowd was close to 3,000 people. There were definitely more than when we began, because they could no longer all fit in the plaza at SW Park and Salmon. They spilled out over the lawns and sidewalks and into the side streets and the next park block.
We had planned on having the MC thank the crowd and wrap things up once we had returned to the Park Blocks, but people did not seem to want to leave. Most packed close in the plaza and listened as people took turns speaking their minds and hearts through the bullhorn. The speakers frequently denounced US foreign policy for backing repression around the world, and by doing so making us all targets of justified, but misdirected hostility. This drew applause from the crowd.
Many other people stood on the fringe of the gathering not paying attention to the speakers, but talking with friends and acquaintances. They didnt want to leave either. They seemed to be soaking up the solidarity and peacefulness. Until that day many of them had felt isolated and alone in their resistance to the war sickness. They felt relieved. But more than that, they had begun to feel their own strength.
Lewis & Clark Students Rally for Peace
September 20, 2001, 04:15 PM, Associated Press
By Joseph B. Frazier, AP Staff
Waving banners and singing "Give Peace A Chance," about 300 students demanded the United States not go to war during a rally Thursday at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.
Satya Bycock, a sophomore, said she feels terrible about the East Coast terror attacks last week but she thinks going to war will make matters worse.
"I didn't stop crying for four days," she said of her feelings about the Sept. 11 attacks. "But the cycle of violence can't continue."
The peace rally was one of more than 100 held at colleges and universities across the United States on Thursday.
Antiwar activists also rallied at Reed College.
Lewis & Clark students formed a human peace symbol on a plot of grass in the center of campus.
One woman student chose to show up naked, other than peace symbols painted onto her body as well as the words "I'd rather go naked than go to war."
Hanging from a college building was a banner reading "Why should we cause the world more pain now that we know how it feels?" One student carried a poster reading "Mindless Patriotism Kills."
A short distance away, students who oppose military action engaged in a heated debate with some who favor it.
"Do you want another 5,000 people to die? We have to show a little backbone," said David Warth, a junior from Portland.
But the pro-war students were outnumbered by those who said combat is not the solution.
In speeches, students argued that going to war would cause even more instability and conflict in the Middle East.
"Not all of us want to see more death and destruction," Chris Fromhurz, a junior from Portland, told the crowd. "We must not condone the tragic acts. But we condone them by going to war."
Zaher Wahob, a professor who was born in Afghanistan, told the students his homeland has been suffering from years of conflict and that it would be wrong to inflict even more on the people there.
"I like this country in many ways. But I like too where I was born and raised," he said.
Afghanistan "never harmed America in any way," he said.
The new anti-war movement made a big step forward today here at Hunter College in NYC. Despite rain that forced the event indoors, over 200 students turned out for a Candlelight Vigil for Peace. The crowd refelected the diversity of Hunter's student body (over 70% people of color and 35% immigrant). Many students held candles. A number of students spoke, read poems and sang songs in a somber expression of our determination not to let our grief be used to drag this country into war.
The first speaker was James Creedon, a paramedic and Hunter
student who was caught in the collapse of the first tower and lost many co-workers.
Creedon spoke powerfully, conveying the terror of his own experience and demanding
that the U.S. government not visit similar horrors on other people in the
name of either those who died or the rescue workers who fought so heroically
to save lives. Two large black banners read "We Mourn the Victims, Our
Grief is Not a Cry for War" and "Arabs and Muslims are Not the Enemy,
War is Not the Answer." Dozens of placards expressed
Three young women from the Muslim Students Association spoke
strongly against the attack on the World Trade Center as a perversion of Islam
and against the attacks on Muslims as its own form of terrorism. One spoke
of the 800 Muslims killed in the attack and declared that the only "martyrs"
that would be recognized by Islam were the rescue workers who
gave their lives to save others.
Cynthia Carrion, President of the Undergraduate Student Government
and a member of the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM) read a poem
memorializing the countless undocumented workers who died in the
attacks whose names will appear on no memorials as unknown as the civilians who may die from U.S. bombs tomorrow.
Brendan Sexton III from the International Socialist Organization spoke on the roots of the attacks in crimes committed in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.
The editor of the Hunter newspaper, Jennifer Weiss, spoke of the need to confront the global conditions that nurture the desperation unleashed so recently on New York.
The crowd also sang "Lean on Me" and "Give Peace a Chance."
This event was organized on very short notice while classes were out of session for Rosh Hashanah. It is already clear from conversations in the classrooms and hallways that the majority of students at Hunter oppose this war. Today's event indicates that many students here are willing to speak out and take action to try to stop it. It should be remembered that, more than anybody, New Yorkers are still reeling from the enormity of this tragedy. In spite of this, huge numbers have grasped the urgency of pulling themseleves out of the state of shock to do something to prevent even more suffering. We are so inspired by the courage of students across the country -- from Berkeley to Baylor -- who have done so much to bring this new peace movement into existence.
We are having our first broadly publicized organizing meeting on Monday and recognize that we are only at the beginning of a long struggle.
this is what democracy looks like,