by Eleanor Ommani
On August 2, 2008, more than 800 determined Americans gathered during a torrential downpour in Times Square and 42nd Street, the commercial and cultural center of New York City, raising their voices in opposition to sanctions, interference, and the threats of war against Iran, determined to prevent Washington’s plan of expanding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran. The protesters resounding message was: No attack on Iran, bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, take care of the people here at home suffering from loss of jobs, the housing crisis, the high costs of food, fuel and necessities, and spend the resources on the people of the United States, not on the White House military machine which has killed and maimed hundreds of millions of people and wrecked the economy.
As the rally was about to begin, like a thunderbolt suddenly the sky turned dark, and huge gray clouds hanging over the tall sky-scrapers poured down a torrential rain, filling the streets with pools of water and sending the pedestrians to the interiors of near-by stores, seeking protection under the canopies of the shops and overhangs of the large buildings. For a short time it was not NYC teeming with tourists, but seemed nearly deserted. Even the police force in charge of security seemed to disappear. No doubt many thought that the rally is washed away for the day and the participants would soon decide to leave.
But instead, within the confines of the police barricades, the spirit of the messengers of peace remained unbroken and undaunted, as these dedicated anti-war activists, representing a broad multi-national, multi-cultural cross-section of black, white, brown, Asian, African and European people from organizations representing peace and church groups, union workers, immigrant rights spokespersons, Palestinian right-to-return activists, raging grannies for peace singers, youths from Long Island, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, civil rights advocates, Korean community activists, African and Latina(o) people and Iranians, all opposed to war on Iran, in a powerful display of unity demanded: No U.S.-sponsored Zionist attack on Iran, U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Money for human needs, not war! It was as if the colossal rain was met with a colossal message: We will NOT be silent, we will not go home quietly, we WILL resist Washington’s moves, whether led by a Republican or a Democratic president, toward war, greed and militarism.
Participants in this rally came from many organizations, including the main sponsors, the StopWarOnIran Campaign, the International Action Center, and the American-Iranian Friendship Committee. Also participating were Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the Harlem Tenants Council, a survivor of the Katrina disaster, the World Can’t Wait, Troops Out Now Coalition, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, NYC Labor Against the War, No War Westchester and many others, too numerous to list. Foreign news media reporters from Italian TV, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) agency, CBS, and Al-Jazeera covered the protest. It was shown twice on prime-time Iranian television, and on another Iranian live interview with the reporter who filmed the event. Go to stopwaroniran.org
Then, as if in a show of support for these, the best of the people living in the United States, the sky lightened, the rain tapered off, and the sun actually came out and shone on the wet bodies of the rain-drenched protestors, as everyone headed south for a high-spirited 25 city-block march downtown. The enthusiasm and chants of the marchers was met along the march route with smiles, outstretched hands for leaflets and flyers about the StopWarOnIran campaign, and a renewed sense of urgency to turn the U.S. from its present path of war to peace and social needs.
Note:For CBS coverage of the demonstration and interviews with Ardeshir Ommani, AIFC, and Sara Flounders, Stop War On Iran Campaign: cbsnews.com
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