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
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.”