WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – A broad anti-war coalition is planning a mass march, encircling the White House September 24.

The International ANSWER Coalition–along with a diverse group of civil rights, religious and community organizations–plans to mobilize 100,000 opponents to the U.S. occupation and war in Iraq here and in several other cities, they announced at the National Press Club on June 1.

“We will, on September 24, surround the White House with a sea of anti-war demonstrators,” Brian Becker, ANSWER’s national coordinator, said at the news conference. “And this will be a graphic demonstration … that the White House is surrounded by opposition all around the country and this opposition grows day in and day out.”


The demonstrations will also demand an end to U.S. threats against North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, and an end to the “colonial-style occupation in Palestine and in Haiti,” the group said.

This “will be the largest anti-war demonstration to take place since the second election, or selection, of George W. Bush” in November, said Mr. Becker.

There is now a changed mood inside the United States, he said. “At this point, we believe the majority sentiment in the country not only disapproves of George Bush’s handling of the White House, but has turned decisively against the war in Iraq.”

Others at the press conference agreed.

“From a theological perspective, we all admit that war is a terrible sin within the human community. It is a sin that must be challenged. It is a sin that must be lifted up. It is a sin that we must push to find another way,” said Reverend Graylan Hagler, senior minister of Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington.

The Iraq conflict is similar in many ways to the Vietnam War, including the way the war affects domestic politics, according to Vanessa Dixon, of the D.C. Healthcare Coalition.

“The obscene amounts of money that have been, and will be, allocated to the Iraqi occupation, should instead be spent on domestic priorities, such as health care, education, affordable housing, veterans benefits and other social programs,” Ms. Dixon argued. “As a result of such narrow and mercenary interests, the American public is paying a terrible price for such wrong-headed priorities. We suffer from a President with painfully limited wisdom and woefully inadequate compassion. While waging a war against Iraq, the Bush administration wages another war against America, by requiring massive cuts in social spending for programs that benefit U.S. residents.”

Central American and Mexican immigrants are also victims of the racist U.S. war policy, according to Macrina Cardenas of the Mexico Solidarity Network.

“The Bush administration has made a mess, and it gets worse every day,” she said. “It’s long past time for the people of this country to say, ‘No more.’ It’s time for us to take this country back from the politicians who sacrifice our children and our future to the profits of a few oil companies.

“And now, in the name of fighting terrorists, the Bush administration is building a wall along the Southern Border, the latest step in the racist war that touches immigrant workers,” she continued, referring to aggressive border tactics in the Southwest.

Instead of receiving gratitude in this country for the good they do, immigrants support families at home and, at the same time, they pay taxes in this country. Immigrants face their own racist discrimination, Ms. Cardenas charged. “They pay taxes, including Social Security, with no chance of enjoying social services. And for these contributions, they are treated like criminals, under constant threat of deportation. This is the racist war at home against people who work hard in our homes and communities.”

The only solution is massive mobilization of the U.S. public, according to the ANSWER Coalition. “If it’s left to the Bush administration, the United States will never leave Iraq,” said Mr. Becker. “They have no intention of leaving Iraq. The Bush administration has no intention of leaving the Middle East. That’s what the American people have to really recognize. They went in and destroyed the Iraqi government, not because it posed a grave and imminent danger to the people of the United States, but because it was an impediment, and an obstacle to the full take-over of that oil-rich region.”

Mr. Becker believes that, if the public continues to wait for the U.S. to leave Iraq, the bloodshed will only continue to grow.

“The Bush administration will go all the way to World War III in order to win in Iraq, and yet you have the Iraqi people who are determined to drive the Americans out, and the people of the Middle East who stand with them and are sympathetic to their cause,” he said.

“The people of the United States have to fully realize the dangerous consequences of the Bush administration policies. The U.S. will only leave Iraq when the people of the United States and the people of the Middle East show that we have a commonality in opposition to the Empire.”

Other participants at the press conference included Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, attorney and co-founder, Partnership for Civil Justice; Mahdi Bray, executive director, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; and Chuck Kaufman, Nicaragua Network.

Messages of support were sent from Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney-general; Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg; Ben Dupuy, general-secretary, National Popular Party of Haiti (PPN); and Kathy Boylan, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C.

ANSWER is reaching out to churches, mosques, youth and student organizations and others, providing them with logistical information on the demonstrations. It will hold teach-ins this summer that aim to bring together organizers, religious and academic leaders, and elected officials to discuss U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.