Martin L. King III joins chorus against military action

CHICAGO (–Almost exactly one year since the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the Tribune Tower Oct. 6 to tell President George W. Bush not to engage in a war on Iraq in the name of all Americans.

Not in Our Name demonstrators urged the American people who disagree with war as the answer to terrorism to stand up and not be silent as Mr. Bush pushes the country into a war that they said will kill thousands of innocent people.


“We’re sending a message. (President Bush) will not carry out these atrocities in our name,” said Lou Downey, an organizer of the Chicago demonstration. “We say no to endless war; no to the arrest and containment of our Arab brethren; no to the police state plan.”

Demonstrators passed out flyers from Not In Our Name project that crystallized their concerns: “We cannot stand silent as our government wages war without limits of time and space. We cannot stand silent as immigrants are rounded up and detained. We cannot stand silent in the face of new police state restriction threatening the very right to dissent. We refuse to allow President Bush to speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety. Together as one, we say Not in Our Name. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety.”

The plaza was filled with banners, whose messages included “No Blood for Oil,” and expressed concerns that oil, not terrorism is the root of the Bush war call.

Simultaneous demonstrations occurred in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and many other cities Oct. 6 and 7. The Not In Our Name project was initiated in New York City March 23 by the family members of Sept. 11 victims seeking ways to strengthen and expand resistance to the U.S. government’s course in the wake of the horrific attacks a year ago.

“(Not In Our Name) brings people together to resist all the unjust acts being perpetrated as part of the War on Terrorism,” said Martin Luther King III, who was included in a long list of names in a New York Times ad by the group, which called for peace. He wrote a letter urging Americans to take the Not In Our Name pledge against war. “It highlights the responsibility of people in this country to oppose the illegal and immoral acts of this government,” the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and son of the famed civil rights leader said.

There are several overarching goals of the project, which wants to “stop the war on the people of the world; stop the disappearances and vicious attacks on Arab, Muslim and South Asian people in the U.S.; and stop the destruction of civil, legal and political rights.”

The demonstration brought together people of all races, ethnicities and ideologies. Some present had already risked their lives for the very freedom they are now exercised. “If you don’t agree with this rush to war, then your patriotism is questioned,” complained Greg Heberling, a Vietnam veteran who attended the pro-peace rally. “We should not just go unilaterally into war and just invade a country at will. That’s the opposite of what my America stands for.”

Present to echo the sentiments against war included Rev. James Bevel. “You go to war when your nation’s sovereignty is threatened. Bush is not going to war. He’s a thief and a liar engaged in rape, murder and robbery who claims there’s danger, (from Iraq) although he can’t prove it,” said Rev. Bevel.

Supporters of the Not In Our Name pledge include Saul Williams, Ed Asner, Mos Def, Ossie Davis, Angela Davis, Michael Eric Dyson, Jane Fonda, Bell Hooks, Aaron MacGruder, Oliver Stone, Alive Walker, Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, Danny Glover and Howard Zinn. Those and many others had their names attached to a New York Times full-page ad Sept. 19. A copy of the pledge and other outreach materials can be obtained at