World Can't Wait Initiates Protest to STOP U.S. War

World Can't Wait, SF Bay Chapter | November 22, 2015

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A week after the terrorist attack in Paris, a crucial protest demonstration took to the City Hall steps in San Francisco. Over 40 people held a speak-out and press conference to demand: Break the Silence! No More War on Syria and Beyond! Stop the Air Strikes and Targeted Killing NOW!

As far as we're aware, this is one of very few such emergency anti-war protests anywhere in the U.S. to boldly say NO to not just the latest air strikes, but to the whole imperialist veil being spun in the wake of Paris to wrap people’s grief and fear into support for escalating the war and the very related heightening of repression and xenophobia. There was emotional applause every time different speakers hit at the fact that “American Lives Are Not More Precious Than The Lives Of Others,” and generally a real hunger for mass opposition to the war based not on what might be best for Americans, but on an internationalism that takes as principal the interests of all of humanity.

The demonstration was called by World Can’t Wait, CODEPINK, and OccupySF Action Council, and quickly endorsed by Courage to Resist,American Friends Service Committee, School of the Americas Watch(SF and East Bay), Larry Everest (Revolutioncorrespondent and author), and POOR Magazine.

We came together to call this action because to us it was so clear, so quickly, that the howls from on high for more war and more repression had to be answered in the streets, had to be rejected and refuted by people refusing to go along with any of it. We thought back to 2001 when those artists stood up right after 9/11 saying ‘Our Grief Is Not A Cry for War.’ And 2003, those worldwide demonstrations of so many millions marching before the U.S. war on Iraq. Whether one hundred or ten million: who’s going to stand up now?” one World Can’t Wait organizer explained.

Leaders of longtime anti-war organizations, activists with roots in the church, people carrying “Rise Up” banners from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, revolutionary communists with Revolution newspaper and flyers of the revcom.us recent statement, and School of the Americas Watch veterans gathered. A huge banner simply listed death statistics from countries ravaged by U.S. occupations, invasions and wars since 2001. Beneath the banner lay seven cardboard coffins bearing the names of Middle Eastern countries. And the faces and stories of Syrian refugee children were present in a stark black-and-white photo exhibit.

The small crowd ranged widely in people’s respective politics over what’s the problem and solution – pressure Congress? Elect a president? Revolution? – and over analysis of the political situation inside Syria. Yet a passionate and heartfelt unity got expressed by all the speakers and the entire gathering for standing together to say NO to more of a very illegitimate, very immoral war and to all the justifications and lies “our own” government raises.This unity was based on two demands:

  1. An immediate stop to all U.S./NATO air attacks in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – and stop all U.S./NATO support for Saudi air attacks in Yemen.
  2. An immediate stop to all U.S. “targeted killing” actions globally, including drone surveillance and drone assassinations, which are all key and active components of U.S. secret ops being carried out in 147 countries this year.

And in and around the unity of this demonstration, and those two demands, everyone at this protest was thinking about a whole lot:

There was a lot of camaraderie in the gathered circle over simply coming out today to stand up together. As the initiating groups argued in mobilizing this action: people can’t merely stay home disagreeing with the war quietly, and it’s not even enough to just be engaging over the Internet: what’s needed is visible, public resistance. “There’s no posting or meme that can replace thousands of people out in the streets,” said one activist (who herself does quite a lot of good political work writing and blogging).

Among the protesters there was a lot of strong feeling over the urgent need to “break the silence” specifically, when Larry Everest hit at the U.S. silence about its own crimes including the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz, the Saudi bombing of a Yemeni wedding party. A Unitarian activist agitated about the U.S. arming and backing the Saudi crimes. The School of the Americas Watch speaker hit at the deliberate creation of fear, a necessary ingredient to silence in the face of injustice. And there was a wellspring of love and support for Chelsea Manning, soldiers who resist, and now especially for the new whistle-blowers, the four former drone operators/technicians who have just gone public denouncing the U.S dron warfare program, who Courage to Resist’s Jeff Paterson spoke about.

Another compelling feeling for everyone was about stopping not only the bombs of war, but the dangers of anti-Muslim bigotry and violence being whipped up. Both toward the refugees – as the OccupySF Action Council speaker noted, Trump and his ilk this are so reminiscent of Nazi Germany and who spoke up back then? And also being poised to respond to reactionary threats, hate campaigns, and worse against Muslim and Arab communities already here. This is an important dividing line of internationalism in morality and principle that matters a great deal today and even more in times ahead.

At different times the point Bob Avakian makes about not being trapped between “the two outmodeds, ”BAsics 1:28 , had a lot of heads nodding. Why should anyone in the Middle East, the West, or anywhere in the modern world be forced to choose between supporting either imperialism or Islamic fundamentalism? In our times, these are two clashing opposing forces, and supporting either one liberates nobody, only fueling a dynamic that strengthens both of them.

The reading of the November 16 statement from World Can’t Wait was part of kicking off the speak-out, and the strongest response was to some of the same points that Larry Everest got applause for: American Lives Not More Important – refusing to go along with the two outmodeds as all there is – and breaking of the silence, in this case it’s so important that people came out today to be here.

Several people spoke of feeling an intense emotional admixture: feeling proud to be at this first protest, and their relief when they’d seen it announced -- but also their fear and frustration at the absence so far of major anti-war outcry. “It’s so unbelievable how deafening this silence is, it’s not like we haven’t been through this before!” said one older woman, looking at the sign “Our Grief Is Not A Cry for Endless War.” “Where is the anti-war movement,” a dedicated peace activist cried out over the mike, “There should be tens of thousands here today!”

The World Can’t Wait SF chapter reported also that : “The shared -- and pledged -- intent of the 40-some friends who did this action together is that our mobilization may have been the first such protest in the country, but that much more is needed and has to be worked for. Even before we all left the plaza there were a lot of new discussions buzzing as people were sharing ideas and brainstorming new plans. We intend to be contagious.”

Photos provided by Rem O'Donnelley, freelance writer / photojournalist: remsreports.com.

About

World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.