Monthly Archives: October 2001

Subject: Labour Against the War (England)

From: Dorothy Macedo [mailto:d.macedo@unisonfree.net]
Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2001 6:03 AM
To: michael letwin
Subject: Labour Against the War (England)

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you will be pleased to hear that the English version of Labour Against the War was launched on 24 October in Portcullis House, the office block/meeting rooms building for MPs next to Parliament in the heart of Westminster. I expect you will get official confirmation soon but I thought you’d like to know at once. It is the English rather than the British version because a separate organisation is being set up in Scotland.

Speakers at the launch meeting included veteran ex-MP Tony Benn, Labour Party NEC member Christine Shawcroft, ASLEF (train drivers union) General Secretary Mick Rix and Erkan Gok representing Turkish workers in London plus MPs Bob Marshall-Andrews, George Galloway, Jeremy Corbyn, Alice Mahon and Paul Marsden. Other MPs present included Kelvin Hopkins and John McDonnell. The meeting was attended by Labour Party activists from London and the south east of England. The meeting agreed the statement of aims (see below) and set up a committee which is now contacting local Labour Parties in every constituency to build support. We plan to have a large Labour Party presence on the next major demonstration in London on 18 November.

This is the report that appeared in the Guardian newspaper:

[http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/25/afghanistan.politics]

Anti-war MPs force Blair and Short on to defensive
Party leftwingers launch Labour Against the War group, but development secretary declares: ‘We must not wobble’
Michael White and Patrick Wintour
Guardian Thursday October 25, 2001

Backbench critics of the US-led coalition’s military campaign against the militant al-Qaida network and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan launched a group called Labour Against the War last night, amid growing signs that internal opposition to Tony Blair’s policies is growing in confidence – despite differences among the opponents.

The launch of the group, mainly by leftwing MPs, followed brisk exchanges in the Commons. Mr Blair and the international development secretary, Clare Short, were taken to task about a range of politics. Not even Ms Short’s high reputation on the left could wholly deflect the criticism.

Mr Blair told Jeremy Corbyn that he “respects entirely his right to disagree” but refused to endorse calls for a pause in American bombing of what he stressed included “no civilian targets at all” in Afghanistan.

Making a Commons statement on the desperate struggle to get aid through to the refugees Ms Short – who had earlier soothed the weekly private meeting of backbenchers – told critics that no landmines had been dropped on Afghanistan during the 16-day campaign. But she admitted that a “few” cluster bombs may have been deployed.

She was even more adamant than Mr Blair that the Taliban were the main obstacle to relief supplies reaching Afghan civilians. “It is not true that the bombing is the cause of the problem,” she told MPs, adding later: “We know how in good people’s hearts they hate the bombing. But they are wrong.”

“Of course we must mini mise the bombing and move to the political phase as soon as possible. But we must not wobble,” the impassioned minister said.

Refugee figures were “much less than the UN predicted” Ms Short also revealed. Many people were moving within the country to their villages.

The priority of the anti-war group at Westminster is to rally support among Labour activists in constituencies, so that an increasingly significant anti-war movement is not dominated by churches, pressure groups such as CND and far-left fringe parties.

Alan Simpson, MP for Nottingham South, who organised last night’s anti-war meeting, stressed five key aims to unite diverse opinions:

*: Unequivocal condemnation of the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York;

*: Belief that military action against Afghanistan will not rid the world of the terrorist threat or create a stable international framework;

*: Opposition to British involvement in the bombing, and support for alternative methods of defeating terrorism, including aid;

*: Opposition to any clampdown on civil liberties or the right to asylum in the name of the fight against terrorism;

*: Commitment to work for these objectives in the Labour party and union movement.

Three members of Labour’s national executive are said to have offered support – Mark Seddon, Christine Shawcroft and Ann Black – and two union general secretaries, Mick Rix of Aslef and Andy Gilchrist, head of the firefighters union.

The anti-war group includes people with a variety of views. Some MPs would endorse operations by special forces to seize Osama bin Laden as prime suspect behind the terror attacks on US cities last month, but would not back the bombing of Afghanistan, or occupation by ground troops.

“Plenty of people wouldn’t mind if something happened to Bin Laden,” one leftwinger explained. But other critics want Bin Laden captured, not killed, and brought before an international court.

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Labor Against the War Statement (Re: ALAA/UAW Local 2325)

M E M O

To: ALAA Members
Fr: Michael Letwin (Pres.), George Albro (Sec’y-Treas.) & Charlotte Hitchcock (Rec. Sec’y)
Re: Labor Against the War Statement
Da: October 28, 2001
Several recent e-mail messages allege that Michael Letwin and other Union members have made unauthorized antiwar statements on behalf of ALAA. The facts are as follows.

Letwin has been a principal supporter of New York City Labor Against the War (attached). To date, this statement has been endorsed by more than 500 union members, including 24 presidents, and numerous other elected officers and representatives.

Signers-including Letwin, Albro, and 29 other current or former ALAA members[1]-have consistently been shown with their union and position (if any), beneath the standard disclaimer, in capital letters, that “ALL INDIVIDUAL AFFILIATIONS AND TITLES [ARE] LISTED FOR IDENTIFICATION ONLY (UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED).”

From its inception, this statement has been widely circulated within ALAA and the UAW.

On September 20, the statement was discussed in draft form at the ALAA Executive Board, at which there was a unanimous consensus not to propose its adoption by the Union.

On September 27, the final statement was circulated to UAW Regional Director Phil Wheeler, and to UAW local presidents-two of whom signed, along with affiliation and title.[2]

On October 1, the statement was faxed to ALAA representatives (LAS e-mail was still down) under the bold capitalized statement that “THE ATTACHED IS NOT AN OFFICIAL ALAA STATEMENT.” (Emphasis in original).

On October 4, hard copies, along with written and verbal disclaimers, were distributed to a meeting of ALAA delegates at 111 Livingston Street.

At the October 23 Delegate Council, Letwin distributed an article from the October 26 Chief (attached) which stated that he has “spearheaded the [antiwar] petition drive,” and that municipal labor leaders had “signed as individuals, not as representatives of their respective organizations.”  (Emphasis added.)[3]

This caveat reflected an October 3 press release which conspicuously noted that the statement is “supported by . . . union members (in their individual capacity) . . .” (Emphasis added.) Letwin has written the Chief to reiterate that the above disclaimer applied to both him and the municipal union presidents.[4]

No ALAA funds have been used for New York City Labor Against the War.
Notes

1. To date, the following signers, all of whom identified themselves with ALAA and, where applicable, Union position, are:  George Albro, Daniel Ashworth, Harold Bahr III, Tracey Bing-Hampson, Peter Blum, Ricky Blum, Maria J. Chiu, Antonia Codling, Brooke P. Davis, Kate Fitzer, Winston A. Gordon, Elon Harpaz, Carol Hochberg, Adriene Holder, Daniella Korotzer, Michael Letwin, Eileen A. McCann, Aaron Micheau, Florence Morgan, Susan Olivia Morris, Catherine Newton, Gloria E. Quiñones, Mimi Rosenberg, Andrew Rowe, Hasan Shafiqullah, Claudette R. Spencer, Steve Terry, Azalia Torres, Edlyn Willer, Milton Zelermyer, and Robert Zuss.

2. In addition to Letwin, these were Maida Rosenstein of UAW Local 2110 and Jonathan Tasini of the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981.  Both were identified as presidents of their respective local unions.

3. The article also reported that, despite AFL-CIO support for the war, New York City Central Labor Council president Brian McLaughlin “respect[ed] the difference of opinion.”

4. ”While accurate, ‘Justice, Not Vengeance’ Some Union Heads Oppose ‘Bush War’ (October 26) may have left some readers with the mistaken impression that I speak for my union in opposing the war.  As explained in the antiwar declaration and elsewhere, our union has not endorsed this statement, and, like nearly all the signers, my union affiliation and title are listed for identification only.”

Los Sindicalistas de Nueva York Contra La Guerra

http://barcelona.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=8227&group=webcast

LOS SINDICALISTAS DE NUEVA YORK CONTRA LA GUERRA by [accionglobal-info] 6:44pm Fri Oct 26 ’01
letwin@alaa.org
27 de septiembre del 2001

En esta trágica circunstancia, desde “Ground Zero/NYC”, llamamos a todos los sindicalistas del mundo a sumarse a este llamamiento. (La lista actualizada de firmantes puede consultarse en http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files)

Para incluir su firma individual o de su sindicato, escribir a: letwin@alaa.org o LaborAgainstWar@yahoogroups.com , con los siguientes datos: nombre, cargo, sindicato, e-mail, ciudad, país.

Los atentados del 11 de septiembre han provocado un sufrimiento indescriptible a los trabajadores de Nueva York. Hemos perdido amigos, familiares, compañeros de trabajo de todas las razas, nacionalidades y religiones. Entre ellos, más de mil sindicalistas. Y más de 100.000 neoyorkinos perderán sus trabajos.

Condenamos estos crímenes contra la Humanidad y lloramos a quienes han muerto. Estamos orgullosos de los que participaron en los rescates y el enorme apoyo de los sindicatos a las familias de las victimas. Queremos justicia para los muertos y seguridad para los vivos.

Y estamos convencidos que la guerra de George Bush no es la respuesta.

Nadie merece pasar por lo que nosostros sufrimos el 11 de septiembre. La guerra afectará a incontables civiles inocentes, reforzará las alianzas de EE UU con dictaduras brutales y aumentara la pobreza en el mundo. De la misma manera que EE UU y sus aliados han inflingido un enorme sufrimiento en personas inocentes en lugares como Iraq, Sudan, Israel y los territorios Ocupados, la antigua Yugoslavia y América Latina.

La guerra también nos afectará y mucho a nosotros. Para los americanos en uniforme — la inmensa mayoría trabajadores y gente de color- será otro Vietnam. Provocará una nueva ola de terror contra arabes, musulmanes, sur-asiáticos, gente de color y emigrantes, erosionando nuestras libertades civiles.

Miles de millones de dólares serán desviados a los presupuestos militares y a los ejecutivos de las multinacionales, recortando programas esenciales de educación, sanidad y seguridad social. En Nueva York, como en otras partes, será un pretexto para imponer a los trabajadores y a los pobres una política de “austeridad” disfrazada de “unidad nacional”.

La guerra será aprovechada por los fanáticos religiosos –desde Osama Bin Laden a Jerry Falwell — y alentará nuevos actos de terrorismo en grandes centros urbanos como Nueva York.

Por lo tanto, los abajo firmantes, sindicalistas de la zona metropolitana de Nueva York, creemos que una respuesta justa y efectiva a los ataques del 11 de septiembre exige:

*NO A LA GUERRA. Es una injusticia castigar a toda una nación o pueblo por los crímenes de unos individuos. La paz solo es posible con una justicia social y económica global.

*!JUSTICIA SI, VENGANZA NO!. Que un Tribunal Internacional Independiente investigue imparcialmente, arreste y juzgue a los responsables de los ataques del 11 de septiembre.

*!NO AL RACISMO, DEFENDAMOS LAS LIBERTADES CIVILES! Hay que poner fin inmediatamente al terror, la descriminación racial y las restricciones legales contra la gente de color y los emigrantes, y defender los derechos democráticos.

*AYUDA PARA LOS POBRES, NO LOS RICOS. Ayuda del gobierno para las familias de las victimas y los trabajadores que han perdido sus empleos, no para los ricos. Hay que reconstruir Nueva York con trabajadores sindicalizados, con convenios sindicales y con especial cuidado para evitar nuevas amenazas a la salud y la seguridad de los trabajadores.

*NO A LA POLITICA DE “AUSTERIDAD” CONTRA LOS TRABAJADORES. Los trabajadores y los pobres no tienen que pagar el coste de los atentados del 11 de septiembre. Ninguna concesión en el nivel de vida, los beneficios y los derechos laborales de los trabajadores.

FIRMAS (a 19 de octubre del 2001)

SINDICATOS

*AFSCME DC 1707. New York

*AFSCME L.215, DC 1707. New York

RESPONSABLES SINDICALES

*Larry Adams, Pres., National Postal Mail Handlers Union L.300

*Barbara Bowen, Pres., Professional Staff Congress-CUNY/AFT L.2334

*Arthur Cheliotes, Pres., CWA L.1180

*Glenn Huff Jr., Pres., AFSCME L.205, DC 1707

*Michael Letwin, Pres., Ass’n. of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW L.2325

*Jill Levy, Pres., Council of Supervisors and Administrators, NYSFSA, AFSA L.1

*Kim V. Medina, Pres., AFSCME L.253; Pres., DC 1707

*Victoria Mitchell, Pres., AFSCME L.107; VP, DC 1707.

*Maida Rosenstein, Pres., UAW L.2110

*Joel Schwartz, Pres., AFSCME, Civil Service Employees Ass’n. L.446

*Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, Chairperson, State Delegate Assembly, NY State Nurses Ass’n.

*Brenda Stokely, Pres., AFSCME L.215, DC 1707

*Jonathan Tasini, Pres., National Writers Union/UAW L.1981

AFILIADOS SINDICALES

(421 firmas…)

groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/f…

‘Justice, Not Vengeance’: Some Union Heads Oppose ‘Bush War’

THE CHIEF-LEADER, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2001

‘Justice, Not Vengeance’
Some Union Heads Oppose ‘Bush War’

By DEIDRE McFADYEN

In a political climate where those who question U.S. foreign policy run the risk of being called unpatriotic, nearly 300 New York City trade unionists-including 12 union presidents-have come out publicly against the war.

“We want justice for the dead and safety for the living,” said a statement they signed. “And we believe that George Bush’s war is not the answer.”

`Don’t Need Vengeance’

Michael Letwin, president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325, spearheaded the petition drive, which calls for “justice, not vengeance” and no labor austerity.”

Mr. Letwin called the petition an organizing and educational tool. “We wanted to show that labor was not of one mind on the issue,” Mr. Letwin said.

Communications Workers of America Local 1180 President Arthur Cheliotes, Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen and Council of Supervisors and Administrators President Jill Levy were among the municipal union leaders who signed the petition. They signed as individuals, not as representatives of their respective organizations.

District Council 1707, which represents workers in the nonprofit sector, was also among the signatories.

AFL-CIO Central Labor Council President Brian McLaughlin, whose organization supports the Bush Administration’s response to the terrorist attacks, said those who signed the petition were entitled to express their views. “We respect the difference of opinion of others, particularly when it comes to these moral questions outside the realm of labor,” he said.

Mr. McLaughlin added, however, that he believed the overwhelming majority of New York City labor leaders backed the war in Afghanistan.

“No one should suffer what we experienced on September 11,” the anti- war statement said. “Yet war will inevitably harm countless innocent civilians, strengthen American alliances with brutal dictatorships, and deepen global poverty.”

The possible death toll on the American side was another cause for concern : “For Americans in uniform–the overwhelming number of whom are workers and people of color–it will be another Vietnam,” the statement said.

The critics contended that the people of Afghanistan shouldn’t be punished for the crimes of individuals. They called for convening an international tribunal to try the terrorist suspects.

The petition also warned that financing the war effort would drain resources from education, health care and the Social Security trust fund. “In New York City and elsewhere, it will be a pretext for imposing `austerity’ on labor and poor people under the guise of `national’ unity,” the statement said.

`Band-Aid on the Cancer’

Mr. Cheliotes linked the attack on the Twin Towers to U.S. support for free-market policies worldwide that do not address pressing social needs and widen the gulf between the rich and the poor. “A military response is like putting a Band-Aid on the cancer if you don’t deal with the causes of the problem,” he said. “We can’t be seen as the cause of the misery of the rest of the world. Those two great oceans don’t protect us anymore.”

Mr. Cheliotes said that the government should concentrate on freezing the financial assets of the terrorist network and closing the gaping holes that the attack revealed in American intelligence. He acknowledged that he had no easy answers for how to track down and capture Osama bin Laden and his cohorts.

Ms. Levy said that she supported targeted military forays into Afghanistan aimed at the bid Laden forces. But she opposed a full- scale war involving U.S. ground troops, citing the many oppressed Afghani civilians who would be killed. “These people are victims,” she said. “We will victimize them more.”

A protracted war against Afghanistan, she said, could backfire by stirring up anti-American sentiment in other Muslim nations. “Rather than get respect, you’d get the hatred of the rest of the people,” she said.

Mr. Cheliotes said it was appropriate for labor leaders to take a stand on the war because workers would be asked to bear the greatest burden. “When it is time for the nation to sacrifice, who is put on the sacrificial block?” he said. “It’s always, always working people.”

October 7 Coalition Report

OCTOBER 7 COALITION

On Monday, October 22nd a meeting was held by the people who have facilitated the large coalition meetings and representatives of some of the working groups of a city-wide anti-war coalition that began meeting at the Brecht Forum and organized the October 7th anti-war demonstration. We discussed several of the problems at recent meetings, and had an initial exchange of ideas about the nature of this new coalition.

We agreed that an interim step is needed before the next large general meeting. This would build on the existing strengths of our coalition – the working groups and participating organizations – and allow us to establish a stronger foundation to help build a lasting peace movement in New York City.

Toward that end, we agreed to convene an interim meeting this coming Monday, October 29th at 6:30 pm at the Brecht Forum (122 W. 27thSt., 10th Floor.) Each of the working groups of the coalition are being asked to send 2 representatives. In addition, we hope that each of the organizations that have been part of the coalition or want to be involved in the coalition, will send 1 representative (individuals are also welcome to attend). CydCharise Goler nd Humberto Brown will co-facilitate this meeting, which will include the following items (not necessarily in this order):

– nature of this entity as a “coalition”
– name of the coalition
– structure of the coalition
– process/facilitation of meetings
– decision-making
– reports from the working groups, including proposals for the work and activities of this coalition

In preparation for this meeting, we encourage each of the working groups to meet before next Monday night in order to discuss these issues and select representatives to the 10/29 meeting. Below is a contact list for the working groups, with information about some of their meetings.

Yours,

Andrew Stettner (notetaker)

Other attendees at 10/22 meeting: Arun Aguiar, John Riley, Nhan Ngo Thanh, Merle Ratner, Michael Letwin, Diane Greene-Lent, Daniel Vila, Bill Koehnlein, Ariella, Gloria Bletter, Tom Burgess, CydCharise Goler, Humberto Brown, Tristin Adie and Leslie Cagan. {Note: Andrew Stettner took these notes, and bears sole responsibility for their errors}
———————————————
WORKING GROUPS

1. People of Color Outreach:
Margarita Garcia: m_carnauba@excite.com
Ariella
Next Meeting: Thursday, October 25th, 6:30 pm at the National Black Theater, 5th Avenue and 125th St.

2. Labor Outreach:
Michael Letwin: letwin@alaa.org
Ray LaForest: raylaforest@mindspring.com
Next Meeting: Wednesday, October 24th at 6 pm, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, 568 Broadway, Suite 702A (just south of Houston)

3. Neighborhood Outreach:
Paul Mishler: mishlerp@aol.com
Mark Leger: trix@panix.com

4. Religious Outreach:
Johanna Ghiggeri: ghiggeri@ix.netcom.com
Peter Laarman: plaarman@judson.org
Yanira Lopez: ylitchel@aol.com
Next Meeting: Tuesday, October 23rd, 5:30 pm, Intercommunity Center for Peace and Justice, 20 Washington Square North

5. Student Outreach Group:
Douglas Medina: djmdam@hotmail.com (718-386-5635)

6. Education:
Bill Koehnlein: toplab@toplab.org

7. Internal Media & Communication:
Amy Melnick: amyinusa@yahoo.com

8. External Media & Communication:
Lisa Caswell: lcaswell17@cs.com

9. Arts & Culture:
Judith Miller: zeldaarts@mindspring.com

10. Finance & Administration:
Tom Waters: tjwaters@earthlink.net
Arun Aguiar: ArunAguiar@aol.com

11. October 7 Event (Other Protests):
Diane Greene Lent: greenelent@earthlink.net

Labor Antiwar Efforts in Three Cities

LABOR ANTIWAR EFFORTS IN THREE CITIES

The following brief reports were written by labor antiwar activists based in Washington, D.C., New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. These independent committees have begun to establish communications in order to share information, to encourage other labor antiwar activists, and to promote common goals. (Statements issued or disseminated by each committee are attached in RTF format.)

Trade unionists making similar efforts elsewhere are invited to contact these committees at: D.C.: <laborpeace@hotmail.com> N.Y.C.: <letwin@alaa.org> S.F. Bay Area: <getorganized@igc.org>

WASHINGTON, D.C.–In Washington, DC, a group of us began meeting to talk about our concerns about our government’s response to the events of September 11. Our working group, which we call Labor Committee for Peace and Justice, is composed of national/international union office staff, union members and local union staff. We have written down our thoughts (Time for Justice document attached) in a statement and are seeking labor activists to sign it. Many of us have participated in peace activities held since September 11. We are constructing a web site to serve as an information sharing resource. It can be viewed at http://communities.msn.com/laborpeaceandjustice. We will also be holding a teach-in for the greater Washington, DC area labor community.

What You Can Do: We are asking those who share the same thoughts expressed in our statement to sign it. You may do so by sending an email to laborpeace@hotmail.com, stating your agreement and providing your name, labor affiliation, email address and telephone number. We will publish the statement in The Nation, and need donations to cover the cost of advertising. Checks may be made out to Labor Committee for Peace and Justice, and sent to Labor Committee, PO Box 34752, Washington, DC
20043-4752. We welcome signatures anytime. However, signatures for the Nation ad must be received by Thursday, October 18 by 4 pm.

NEW YORK CITY–NYC Labor Against the War, a cross-union multiracial committee, has come together over the past month from within a broader antiwar coalition (“Not in Our Name”) in that shared belief that trade unionists at “ground zero” have a special responsibility to speak out. The committee’s primary focus has been an ongoing antiwar petition which has been signed, to date, by 406 entities and/or individual trade unionists: 278 from NYC (including two labor bodies and 12 presidents), and 130 from other cities and countries (including 6 presidents)–the list of signers grows daily. The committee also sponsored a labor contingent at a large October 7 antiwar rally, and is planning labor teach-ins, educational materials, and other efforts. To subscribe to the NYCLAW listserv, please e-mail <LaborAgainstWar-subscribe@yahoogroups.com>.

What You Can Do: Whatever your location, please support these efforts by endorsing and disseminating the attached labor antiwar petition.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA–Labor for Peace & Justice was formed at a meeting of 68 labor movement activists, union staff, and local union leaders from 35 organizations on Sunday, October 7. Three working groups were constituted: education, outreach, and resolutions. While no formal position was adopted, there was general consensus that the resolution against the war adopted by the San Francisco Labor Council provided all the essential points of unity. Rather than spend time and energy perfecting a political declaration, it was agreed that what really mattered was what position could be adopted by each person’s local union and that the most urgent work was to engage members in conversations that connected the union values they cherish with the struggle to pursue alternatives to military aggression, to defend civil liberties, to challenge scapegoating, racism and xenophobia, to defend the social safetynet, to prompt a reappraisal of the foreign policies that create characters like bin Laden. The education working group is preparing fact sheets, train-the-trainer materials, and talking points that can be used to prepare union leaders, stewards and staff to engage members in that conversation. Efforts will be made to have a resolution introduced at the forthcoming state federation of labor convention in November. A labor contingent is being organized for the October 20 march and rally in San Francisco.

What You Can Do: To contact Labor for Peace & Justice, write to <getorganized@igc.org>. Labor4Justice has been established as an email discussion list to which information about the activities of Labor for Peace & Justice will be posted and where participants can exchange information and views. To subscribe to Labor4Justice, send a blank email to <Labor4Justice-subscribe@topica.com> To view this list on the web, use this address: <http://www.topica.com/lists/Labor4Justice@igc.topica.com/read&gt;

As Bombs Drop, Americans Say: ‘Not in Our Name’

http://www.pww.org/past-weeks-2001/As%20bombs%20drop,%20Americans%20say,%20’Not%20in%20our%20name’.htm

As bombs drop, Americans say: ‘Not in our name’
Call for peaceful solution grows

By Judith Le Blanc
People’s Weekly World
October 13, 2001

Changing America

NEW YORK CITY – Thousands marched just a few miles from Ground Zero to call for an end to war and terrorism. They rallied Oct. 7 while workers continued the grueling job of removing the rubble of the World Trade Center and the remains of the victims.

The march, called by a coalition of more than 100 organizations, New York Not in Our Name, was held to honor those who died and to call for ” the establishment of a fair and independent international tribunal to apprehend and try those responsible for the attack.”

The thousands of activists heard about the Bush administration’s bombing as they arrived. The crowd, estimated by The New York Times at 10,000, marched to Times Square, while thousands of shoppers waved or looked on in curiosity, most not yet aware of the war being carried on in their name.

“The demonstrators seem more determined. Perhaps it’s because bombs and missiles started hitting Afghanistan earlier today, and after Sept. 11 we in New York feel the suffering of other victims of mass violence more keenly,” commented Bill Davis, a member of AFSCME District Council 37 Retirees Committee and leader of the New York Communist Party.

The defense of civil liberties and civil rights was high on the agenda. For those who taunted the marchers along the route, Ron Daniels, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, responded, “We must not let the Constitution be a casualty of the attack on the World Trade Center. No one can dare question our patriotism, because we are here today defending the first amendment …”

The marchers were penned in by police barricades during the rally, but their emotions could not be contained when James Creedon, a NYC emergency medical technician injured in the collapse of Tower 1, called for “justice, not vengeance.”

The city has been focused on honoring the working class heroes who died Sept. 11 and have since been carrying on the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Four members of Creedon’s unit were lost in the WTC collapse.

Even now, every day there are funerals and memorials, held to say goodbye to the over 300 firefighters, EMT’s and police who perished.

“Every time I have spoken since Sept. 11, I have called for a moment of silence for rescue workers and the innocent people who lost their lives,” Creedon said.

“Today … I call not for a moment of silence but a moment of resolve. Let us all resolve today, here and now, together: We will talk to people in our community, to anyone who will listen that we will build a movement for justice, not vengeance; peace not war.”

The crowd erupted when two Nobel Peace Laureates, from Argentina and Northern Ireland, arrived. They were bringing a message to the UN on behalf of other Peace Prize winners, seeking an international peaceful solution to the conflict.

Aldopho Perez Esquivel, 1980’s winner, spoke of solidarity, especially with the families of the victims.

“It’s not the people of the world who want this war,” he said. “The only ones who want this war are the military industrial complex, which is controlling the world … There are all kinds of international agreements, conventions, treaties, and pacts that we can work with. Those should be a guide to our actions, not illegal acts of vengeance.”

Mairead Maguire, a 1976 Nobel Prize winner, said, “In Northern Ireland, we have 30 years of violence and deep political problems. We were helped into our peace process with the encouragement of American government that we should solve our problems nonviolently.

What applies for the people of Northern Ireland applies for the American government. The American and British government did not for one moment, thank God, contemplate bombing Belfast, why should they bomb Afghanistan?”

Maguire told the World that if the Afghan people have enough food and places to live and they begin to lead normal lives, eventually they will no longer provide terrorism a base of support.

“Those who perpetrated these terrible things,” Maguire said, “can be brought to justice through international laws.”

Amy Goodman, host of radio program “Democray Now,” stirred the crowd by calling on the corporate media to let the voices for peace be heard.

“The media is saying 90 percent of people are for war. I’d like to see the question people are asked,” Goodman said. “I doubt if they are asked, ‘Would you like to avenge the killing of innocent civilians, as we saw at the WTC, by killing innocent civilians?’ The majority would say no.”

The economic needs of working families are closely linked to the fight for peace. Michael Letwin, president of UAW Local 2325, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, marching with the banner of Metro New York Labor Against War, spoke about the importance of a petition drive to galvanize labor’s voice.

“We in labor,” he said, want to send a message from Ground Zero, that “we are against war. We’ve seen the effects of the acts of terrorism.”

Letwin and others drafted the petition, which eight local presidents and 200 labor activists have now signed onto. “Labor’s participation in this struggle should represent the social consciousness for society.”

As the marchers went home to prepare supper for their families or catch up on the Giants game, they vowed to reach out to neighbors and co-workers with the rally’s message.

“We are for a policy against terrorism,” Daniels said.

“We believe that at the center of that policy is to apprehend the people responsible for the acts and bring them before an appropriate court of international law. Assassination must not be the policy of the government.”