[Marxism] March 20 in Salt Lake, Utah, U.S.
dayneg at aros.net
Sun Mar 21 16:45:17 MST 2004
everything you wanted to know, and more, about the Salt Lake march 20
mobilization. written by yours truly, not particularly for Marxmail, but
first shared w/ Marxmail beyond the local organizers. Dayne
MARCH 20: UTAHNS SAY NO TO WAR AND OCCUPATION
Over 700 Utahns participated in Salt Lake City's anti-war march
and rally on the warm, sunny first full day of spring. Utah organizers
changed the national March 20 flag and globe symbol for local flyers by
adding two words to the slogan on the flag so that it said "the world
still says no to war and occupation."
Aaron Davis of Military Families Speak Out and Veterans for Peace,
who spoke first at the rally, criticized U.S. government imperialist
policies and called for ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq. "Bring the
troops home now!" concluded Davis, who has two sons in the military in
The mobilization began at the State Capitol, where people enjoyed
poetry, the "Peace and Justice Blues Band," and took beautiful paper
flowers made by CodePINK activists. As marchers passed by the downtown
Federal Building, they slowed to leave the flowers on a casket and several
wheelchairs sitting beside a huge banner marking the many thousands of
dead and injured Iraqis and Americans. A powerful emotional chant of
"support the troops, bring them home now!" spontaneously welled-up from
Marchers walked peaceably through about two miles of busy downtown
Salt Lake City receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from
passersby and honking drivers. We were about evenly divided between
older peace activists(like me) and young people with creative anti-war and
anti-Bush placards, some proudly demonstrating their allegiance to the
youthful counter-culture with their attire, hair styles and body
The banner at the front of the march heralded the four
demonstration demands: End the Occupation of Iraq, Bring the Troops Home
Now!; Money for Jobs, Education, Healthcare and Human Needs - Not War!;
End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine; Defend Democratic Rights, Restore
Civil Liberties, Repeal the PATRIOT Act!. Closely behind were banners
from the Green Party and the Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice and
signs from People for Peace and Justice, the three local groups who
initiated the Utah March 20 Committee.
Signs and banners scattered along the march noted the presence of
other groups from among the twenty-six co-sponsoring organizations - from
the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and Mormons for Equality and Social Justice
to the Utah Chapter of U.S. Labor Against the War. A member of USLAW
participating in the March 20 Committee got the collection of food and
donations for the coal miners on strike in Huntington, Utah put on the
protest's agenda and publicity materials.
There were contingents from local schools and colleges, ranging
from the Westminster Action Network to the University of Utah's UNION
(University Not In Our Name) which has built a large replica protest
Apartheid Wall on the campus to solidarize with the struggle of the
Palestinian people. Amanda Madden, an activist from East High School,
gave a rousing rally speech in defense of student rights to resist school
administration repression and to protest against government policies.
A new force in the local peace movement was represented at the
rally by professor Michael Minch of the Utah Valley State College Faculty
for Peace and Justice, who spoke on defending the democratic rights under
attack by the Bush administration. Pediatrician Louis Borgenicht, a
long-time peace activist and community leader, spoke on the misallocation
of social resources from human needs to war and destruction. They were
two of the six five-minute rally speakers who shared the stage at the City
government building with several poets and musicians.
Anwar Arafat, a Palestinian-American University of Utah freshman
who was born in Utah but lived in the Gaza Strip from about age eight to
seventeen, told of living under the U.S.-supported "organized terrorism"
of the Israeli occupation. Arafat, who began by saying he is not related
to Yasir Arafat, is a member of both the Muslim Student Association and
the Occupation NO! Peace and Justice for Palestine activist group. Final
speaker of the day was the popular anti-war movement stalwart Reverend
Daniel Webster of the Episcopal Church who definitively refuted George W.
Bush's constant claim that his policies are an instrument of God's will.
Coverage in the local news media was decent, usually saying
"several hundred" participated. The Mormon Church-owned daily Deseret
Morning News' report was more positive overall than the Salt Lake
Tribune's, as usual. The Tribune's reporter quibbled that whether the
crowd was the 'some 400' he "counted" (at the beginning) or 'around 750'
"estimated by march organizers," it was still "only about one-fifth the
size of a Salt Lake protest on the eve of the Iraq invasion." The
Tribune's talented cartoonist Pat Bagley did create an excellent anti-war
cartoon for the editorial page (can be found at <www.sltrib.com>).
The march and rally inevitably manifested a pervasive anti-Bush
sentiment since the Bush administration is carrying out the policies large
numbers of people want to protest - although the march's official
political identity was non-partisan. Explicit support for John Kerry was
not particularly noticeable. Frances ReMillard of Utahns for a Just Peace
in the Holy Land, tabling at the rally, noted that John Kerry may be a
more rigid supporter of Israel than George W. Bush.
Experienced activists among the march organizers, the Radical
Cheerleaders, and the Circle Dynamics peacekeepers who made the event
flow, generally have no illusions that a Democratic Party administration
would carry out much different policies than this administration
controlled by the other capitalist party.
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