International Day of Protest

Report from: New York

By Alice Slater, Maryna Harrison
and Sharleen Leahey

On October 13th, in New York, over a thousand people gathered in Washington Square Park on a beautiful sun-filled day to rally in solidarity with the Global Network with an expanded focus after the tragic events of September 11th in our city, to include a call for justice, not war.

Amy Goodman, who has been locked out of her Democracy Now program at WBAI radio, emceed the event, interjecting calls to action and pertinent news information not broadcast by the mainstream media as she introduced a crowd-rousing line-up of  speakers and performers. We heard a moving explanation of Islam from Asra Adiba of the New International Muslim Association followed by stirring talks from  Pakistani physicist, Zia Mian, speaking eloquently about U.S. arms sales and  support of corrupt governments and their negative influence in the Muslim world, as well as the need to empower the United Nations,  Michio Kaku who stirred the crowd to outrage and urged action against Star Wars, and the Reverend Al Sharpton, speaking of the need to end killing and racial profiling, and drawing parallels between the current peace movement and the civil rights movement.  Fathers John Deare and Daniel Berrigan,local high school students, and representatives of the Vietnam Veterans Against War and the Center for Constitutional Rights, all gave moving talks.

The Bread and Puppet Theater treated us to a stunning performance and the crowd delighted in the singing of Toshi Reagon and Patti Smith among others. Alice Slater and Bill Hartung concluded the afternoon, by discussing the links between oil, energy, the defense industry, big business, and government, and underscoring the theme of the rally - Star Wars will not make us secure- it could not have prevented the September 11 attacks.

One refrain that echoed throughout the day was that we must insure that our government does not use these horrible events to push through controversial legislation without adequate debate.  There was a real sense of the interconnectedness of all of the issues surrounding peace, justice, and globalization, and an understanding of the need for all of us to raise our voices to the media and our representatives to start a dialogue, letting them know that there is more than one point of view in America, and our democracy requires that all perspectives  be heard.  Special thanks to Carmen Trotta and Chris Ney of the War Resisters League, and Kevin Heffel of the American Friends Service Committee who took the lead at the Abolition 2000 NY Metro Working Group in planning and making this event so informative, entertaining and well-attended.

Alice Slater and Maryna Harrison
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE)

From: Sharleen Leahey,
Songs for Peace

The action in Washington Square Park in New York City was personally very inspiring for me. I can say that it exceeded all my  expectations in the quality of the energy that was generated. I was especially moved by Patti Smith's electrifying performance of a song that spoke of the immense power generated when people unite.

I am attaching a copy of a sign I made and displayed on that day.

I will always cherish the October 13th, 20001 mobilization as a significant step toward building a broad coalition against the militarization of our planet and of space. I believe that artists are essential because often the magnitude of what is at stake in this struggle can hardly be expressed in mere words alone.

May peace prevail,
Sharleen Leahey


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