Hundreds of thousands marched through New York City (NYC) last Saturday in a demonstration for peace, justice, and democracy. Marchers demanded that the US pull its troops out of Iraq and protested against the possibility of a war in Iran.
The march’s lead contingent included Susan Sarandon, the Oscar winning actor, Roger Toussaint, leader of the NYC Transport Workers’ Union leader and Michael Berg, whose son was the first US civilian hostage killed in Iraq. The Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton also spoke.
The march came a day after the military announced that April was the deadliest month for US forces in Iraq this year. The war has become increasingly unpopular and George Bush’s opinion poll ratings are plummetting.
Some 350,000 or more people joined the march. The trade union contingent was the largest, broadest and most spirited of any seen in New York in 50 years or more.
Between 15,000 and 20,000 labour anti-war activists came from across the country – from as far away as California, Mississippi, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and upstate New York.
It was the largest contingent of organised labour on an anti-war demonstration in the history of this country, including during the Vietnam era.
A rally to kick off the march heard a powerful speech by Roger Toussaint, who had been jailed followed a strike by NYC transit workers embroiled in a struggle for a fair contract.
War at home
“The war in Iraq is linked to the war at home. At home, we just did some jail time, because they need to silence the fightback movement,” he said.
“We just did some jail time, because they are attacking pensions and health benefits and living standards at home, while they are waging a war abroad, spending a billion dollars a day abroad to conduct a war against the Iraqi people, while they’re claiming that they don’t have money for pensions, health benefits, living standards, education for US workers.
“A government that can’t provide health benefits, pensions, education for its own has no business telling people around the world how they should live, has no business conducting an illegal war across the world, has no business at all. We need our troops home.”