As the U.S. stepped up its military campaign against Iraq, protesters across the globe became more riled, even violent.
In the Yemeni capital of San’a, an 11-year-old protester and a policeman were killed in a shootout between cops and protesters on Friday (March 21), according to various press reports. The incident occurred as 30,000 angry citizens set fire to tires and garbage cans and shouted “Death to America!”
In Cairo, at least 5,000 demonstrators angrily marched toward the U.S. Embassy before being dispersed by police using water cannons. In one area, protesters threw rocks and broken furniture at riot police from atop a medieval mosque.
Thousands of Jordanian protesters in Amman grappled with baton-wielding police, and officers in Beirut, Lebanon, used tear gas and water cannons to fight back hundreds of youths flinging stones and marching toward the U.S. mission.
The largest Operation Iraqi Freedom protest to date took place in Rome, where 200,000 farmers marched through the city, waving rainbow flags. Another 5,000 protesters marched in Melbourne, Australia, the site of the first organized war protests a day before (see “Protesters Clash With Cops As Rallies Spark Across Country” ). At least 11,000 in Tokyo marched for peace, and more than 1,000 students in Paris staged a spontaneous sit-in on Place de la Concorde.
No major organized activities took place in the United States on Friday, but there were numerous individual acts of civil disobedience and hundreds of arrests. In San Francisco, where more than 1,400 were arrested in protests Thursday, about 100 more were arrested at unauthorized rallies and at sit-ins in the streets and in front of government buildings.
In East Lansing, Michigan, 14 were arrested when 100 protesters, many of them chained together, blocked a street near Michigan State University. In the nation’s capital, 100 people, many smeared with fake blood, demonstrated a block from the White House; approximately two dozen were arrested for blocking traffic. And 30 of 70 protesters in Baltimore were arrested outside a federal courthouse after dropping to the ground and refusing to get up. Also, 300 rallied in Chicago’s Federal plaza, resulting in 15 arrests.
In response to the Bush administration’s campaign of “shock & awe,” protest groups across the nation called for 5 p.m. marches at federal buildings and in New York’s Times Square on Friday.
A march and rally scheduled for Saturday in New York may be the largest U.S. protest since the outbreak of war. The event, organized by United for Peace and Justice NYC, is expected to draw “hundreds of thousands of people,” predicted Unitedforpeace.org. Crowds will assemble at noon on Broadway between 36th and 41st Street to march through Manhattan to Washington Square Park in the West Village.
As citizens exercise their right to assemble in protest, artists continue to voice their objections in song. Former Rage Against the Machine singer Zack de la Rocha has recorded a song with electronic musician DJ Shadow called “March of Death.”
“Lies, sanctions and cruise missiles have never created a free and just society,” de la Rocha wrote on www.marchofdeath.com, where he posted the song. “Only everyday people can do that. Which is why I’m joining the millions worldwide who have stood up to oppose the Bush administration’s attempt to expand the U.S. empire at the expense of human rights at home and abroad. I hope it not only makes us think but also inspires us to act and raise our voices.”
Clash guitarist Mick Jones and Generation X bassist Tony James also wrote a new song, “Why Do Men Fight?,” which they’ve posted on www.poptones.co.uk. Before the war began, the Beastie Boys, Robbie Williams and John Mellencamp released anti-war songs on their respective Web sites (see “Beasties, Audioslave Say Protest Songs An Important Part Of Our Culture” ).