On Saturday, March 18 th, 2006, U.S. Citizens for Peace and Justice were proud to join the 100,000 Italian anti-war protestors in Rome. The day started with talks given by representatives of veterans' groups and military families from the U.S., Israel, Palestine and Italy, all speaking out against war.
At the beginning of the march, our Rome group met up with our sister group from Florence, U.S. Citizens Against War who came in great numbers. They had their banner that reads “Not In Our Name, Statunitensi contro la guerra” waving high in the air as well as their U.S. flags made in rainbow colors. We complemented their message with our banner reading, “Stop Torture”; its visual impact of the symbolic black prisoner hoods against a white background was quite stark. In addition, our red, white and blue signs saying, “Stop War/The Occupation”, a large poster of the know infamous “torture victim” in a black cape, two U.S. peace flags, a few PACE flags and other signs including, “Impeach Bush” allowed us to get our message out loud and clear. They were photographed by the Associated Press, Reuters, and appeared on Italian TV channels as well as on major websites, i.e., CNN, Common Dreams, Michael Moore, etc.
Our group was quite impressive, as well, in that we spanned several age groups: seniors, mid-lifers, young adults, adolescents and even a toddler. Our participants were U.S. citizens who have lived in Rome for more than forty years and others less than six months. We were also joined by a Dominican friar living in Rome and a group of his friends visiting from the U.S. as well as a tourist from Seattle who carried one of our U.S. peace flags the entire route. One woman came equipped with a pink hat, as a symbol of CodePink, which she had worn in a demonstration back home. The international nature of our group was also represented as we were joined by members from Egypt and the U.K.
We picked up several tourists along the way, including a couple who only found out about the demonstration because the buses weren't running. Their presence was fundamental as his deep and voluminous voice led us in chants of, “Stop, Stop, Stop the War” and “What Do You Want – Peace! When Do You Want It – Now!”, which rallied our spirits along the way.
The march made its way from Piazza Esedera to Piazza Navona. At one point, we were photographed by the Associated Press, with the Colosseum at our backs, the Florence banner and our U.S. peace flags clearly visible. Once in Piazza Navona, a stage was set up and speeches were, once again, given. Giuliana Sgrena, the journalist of il manifesto who was kidnapped in Baghdad and then shot by U.S. military upon her release spoke, as did some of the veterans from the morning session. A representative of the Florence group delivered a very strong message, which drew cheers of agreement from the crowd. (Read the speech [in Italian])
We met friends from the Italian movement along the way who commented about how our group has grown in numbers and visibility since last year’s march. We want to thank everyone who has worked (tirelessly) and participated to make this so.
Protests were held in countries around the world, including Australia, South Korea, Iraq, Pakistan, all across Europe as well as Central and South America and in cities and towns throughout the U.S.
The mainstream media has continued to say that there were fewer protesters around the world, this year than last. We question whether that statement is accurate. What we do know is that we cannot absorb that message and interpret it as meaning that fewer people are against this war/occupations and in turn become discouraged ourselves.
We think that the Italian peace movement sent an incredibly clear message to “the powers that be” and we are pleased that we are playing our part.
From around the world
For reports and photos of anti war demonstrations around the world, see:
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