Like the Democrats in Congress, the antiwar movement appears to be a bit all over the map this weekend, as activists prepare to mark the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
While folks may be united in their desire to get U.S. troops the hell out of there, antiwar groups are pitching a veritable smorgasbord of ways to express that.
On Saturday, the ANSWER coalition is mounting a big “March on the Pentagon” to stop the “war machine,” with speakers Cindy Sheehan, Howard Zinn, and former U.S.-Attorney-General-turned-Saddam-defender Ramsey Clark
There’s plenty of heady symbolism here, as 2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the historic 1967 march on the Pentagon, which helped galvanize public opposition to the Vietnam War.
Despite ANSWER’s annoying brand of knee-jerk leftist politics, they’ve managed to attract a fairly broad array of endorsers, including Code Pink, the Green Party, and the Progressive Democrats of America.
No word yet on any plans to levitate the Pentagon, though one group is encouraging people to wear orange jumpsuits.
Evidently not keen to get on the ANSWER bandwagon, United for Peace and Justice is hosting a big march in New York City on Sunday—part of a nationwide call for local actions to protest the anniversary of the invasion, and to press Congress to vote against the Bush Administration’s request for another $95.5 billion to fund the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The march sets off at 2 p.m. from Sixth Avenue and 37th Street and zigzags through midtown, winding up at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at Second Avenue and 47th Street.
If that sounds like another slow trek to nowhere, the bicycle advocacy group Times Up! is sponsoring a “Ride to End All Wars”—like Critical Mass only stopping at all red lights and stop signs, in keeping with the peace vibe. Riders will set off Sunday morning from all five boroughs and converge with the UFPJ march at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.
Then on Monday morning, various anarchist and pacifist groups, including the War Resisters League and the Granny Peace Brigade are planning to blockade the New York Stock Exchange to protest “war profiteering.”
“There are a lot of companies on the NY Stock Exchange that trade in war and militarism,” says Ed Hedemann of the War Resisters, citing the enormous profits reaped by Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, GE, and Northrop Grumman in the last four years, not to mention Big Oil, which stands to make out handsomely if the new Iraqi oil law passes.
“They’re trading in death from our perspective,” says Hedemann. “So we’re calling for a day off and mourning for people who have died as a result of war profiteering by these companies.”
Who knows how close the NYPD will let them get, but the plan is to meet up at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 55 Water Street, at 8 a.m.
Other protesters are planning a “day-long spree of INFILTRATION and RESISTANCE to all forms of war.” Translation: leafleting, sign waving, and street theater around Wall Street and Midtown.
“We will wear PINK because it’s HOT like resistance, and because we want to bring the BEAUTY of revolt to these hideous times!” say members of Resistance in Pink, a queer/transgender group. Ya Basta! folks are sporting orange overalls.
There will also be a Ground Zero “Shock and Awe” ceremony Monday at 9 p.m., to mark the time when the first bombs were dropped on Baghdad on March 19, 2003.
Similarly, MoveOn.org is calling on its members to stage candlelight vigils throughout the city, including Ground Zero and Union Square.
If that’s not enough, you can sign up to rant at the “24-hour Public Speak Out Against the War,” starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Columbus Circle [email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up]. Or join a silent group meditation for peace at Battery Park’s Labyrinth of Contemplation on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Or you could gather with like minds at the two-day antiwar conference taking place this weekend at Judson Memorial Church in the Village (55 Washington Square South). Academics and activists will discuss the trauma caused by the U.S. occupation and Sunni/Shia conflicts, and strategize ways to get the troops out. There will also be civil disobedience trainings and performances by Judith Malina of the Living Theater, Bonfire Madigan, and folkie Stephan Smith, whose father happens to be Iraqi.
Update: UFPJ leader Leslie Cagan wrote in to explain the rationale behind the group’s rather circuitous march through Midtown this Sunday (map here). The plan is to pass by the offices of Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer on Third Avenue between 46th and 48th Streets and holler at them for voting for the war and waffling on an exit plan. So call it a slow trek to somewhere . . . even if Hillary and Chuck aren’t likely to be around to hear them.