Approximately 75 people braved the freezing temperatures on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 16 to rally against the war in Afghanistan. They gathered on Military Island, the small traffic island housing the Times Square recruiting station (now laughably tagged the Army Career Center) as a sympathy rally for the one held in D.C. earlier that day at the White House, during which 135 people were arrested.
In Times Square, 11 stalwarts blocked a stretch of Broadway for about 10 minutes before they were handcuffed and hauled off by the New York City police to a nearby jail.
The Big Apple event was populated by many Veterans for Peace and lots of peace grannies from the Granny Peace Brigade, the Raging Grannies and
Grandmothers Against the War. Two of the grandmothers were in their 90's but stood for more than an hour in the cold throughout the action. There was a contingent of Catholic Workers, War Resister Leaguers, the Green Party, and other anti-war groups, also.
After the Raging Grannies sang a few of their peace songs, names of New York State war dead in Afghanistan were read. Then, leaders in the peace movement spoke, including Bill Gilson, Vice President of local chapter 34 of Veterans for Peace; Carmen Trotta of the Catholic Workers; Barbara Harris, chair of the Counter Recruitment Committee of the Granny Peace Brigade; Tom Syracuse of the Green Party, and Alicia Godberg, Executive Director of Peace Action New York State.
And then came the civil resistance, at exactly 6 p.m. As the Times Square crowds swarmed around, the bright lights sparkled and flashed, 11 hardy souls fanned out across Broadway at the intersection with 44th St. and refused to move. The other rally participants shouted "Peace Now," "Stop the War," "Arrest Bush and Cheney, not these Patriots," as they observed their comrades loaded into the paddy wagons.
The event was organized by one of the arrestees, Bill Steyert, a Vietnam war vet with the Vets for Peace, who said: "I think it was a travesty that the war in Afghanistan wasn't even brought up as an issue during the recent mid-term elections. This tragic war jeopardizes not only the lives of American troops but directly affects our economy, which is in such dire shape because money spent on war is urgently needed to create jobs at home. This rally showed that those of us who were there have not forgotten what's going on in Afghanistan in our name."
It is hoped that the New York protest along with the big one in Washington served as a wake-up call to the American people about the tragedy of this hopeless and destructive war. Wake up, America!