Miami rallies against U.S. intervention in Iraq
Miami, FL – Over two dozen activists gathered at the Torch of Friendship in downtown here, June 21, to rally against U.S. intervention in Iraq. As the news comes out that the Obama administration is considering military action in Iraq, south Florida anti-war activists sent a message that the people of this country are opposed to endless war.
On June 16, the U.S. announced plans to deploy 275 troops to Iraq and U.S. officials announced the potential of military strikes. Military action by the U.S. destroyed the country of Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands and will not bring about peace now. The rally demanded that the U.S. not seek an intervention in Iraq, that no U.S. troops get sent overseas and that no airstrikes or drone strikes take place.
Cars honked to show support and passersby joined to listen to the speeches and chant “No justice! No peace! U.S. out of the Middle East!” and “Money for jobs and education, not for wars and occupation!” The banner that read “U.S. hands off Iraq” waved alongside signs that said “Not then, not now! U.S. out of Iraq!” and “First Bush, then Obama, different party, same drama!”
People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism, and Racism (POWIR) organized the protest, with Occupy Miami, Progressive Democrats of America-Miami, CODEPINK Miami, Miami-Dade Green Party, Veterans for Peace Miami and SOA Watch coming together to say “Hands off Iraq!” Members of different organizations gave speeches and recounted the timeline of the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq.
Cecelia O’Brien, lead organizer for POWIR, opened the rally by narrating the history of U.S. military aggression in Iraq. President George Bush Sr. launched the first U.S. war on Iraq in 1990. Then when Clinton was in office, the U.S. used murderous sanctions and committed Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign against Iraqi targets. Under George W. Bush, the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 and spent over $1 trillion. It appears that Obama is now following the pattern. “No matter what party has been in power for the past 20 years, we have been at war with Iraq. Is Obama truly an anti-war president? He has significantly expanded the drone campaign in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. He has not yet shut down Guantanamo Bay. And this week he sent armed troops to Iraq.”
“Many of us were here back in 2003 and protested when we invaded Iraq. During that time hundreds responded and we held weekly vigils for many years,” said Ray Del Papa, an organizer with SOA Watch who was involved with the Broward Anti-War Coalition during the years that Bush was in office.
O’Brien said, “It is urgent for the American people to take action now and not allow another war to be waged against Iraq. This protest is part of actions taking place across the country because of the potential threat of another war. The organizers of POWIR are announcing that when the U.S. strikes Iraq, we will respond with an emergency action at the Torch of Friendship the next day at 5:00 p.m.