On Saturday at least 150,000 people from all walks of life and in every part of the USA participated in eleven regional demonstrations against the war in Iraq.
Scores of other protests took place across the country for a national day of action to mark the fifth anniversary of the Senate vote to authorise the war.
The ‘National Day of Action’ was initiated by United for Peace and Justice, a five-year old coalition of 1,400 groups.
Over 45,000 protesters rallied in New York, while tens of thousands marched and rallied in San Francisco and over 10,000 did so in Chicago, with over 5,000 marching and rallying in both Seattle and Orlando, Florida.
The United for Peace and Justice (UNPAJ) coalition, also attracted thousands of protesters in Boston, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.
Wet weather did not deter the crowds in New York where protesters carried signs reading ‘End the war now’; and ‘Healthcare, not warfare’.
Participants gathered in Union Square, before marching on to Foley Square, which is close to many of the city’s largest courthouses and government offices.
UNPAJ national co-ordinator, Leslie Kielsen said that the ‘half a trillion’ dollars spent on the war was money that could have been used for education, social housing and to feed the hungry.
Those taking part, who included relatives of servicemen fighting in Iraq, urged the US Congress to cut off funding for the war.
Mike Carano, who organised a march in Ohio, said the mass mobilisation was about ‘ending the occupation of Iraq and redirecting funds for needs in this country.’
He said: ‘It’s about our attempt to get Congress to stand up and have its prerogative to cut funding, to take charge.’
A two minute silence was held across the country to honour the over 600,000 Iraqi civilians and almost 4,000 US troops who have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion.
• Second News story
GAZA POWER CUT
While Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas was meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, Israel yesterday cut off the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip.
Israel carried out its plan to cut off the electricity supply to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip after the court system gave the government its final authorisation.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak had on Thursday approved cutting electricity to the Gaza Strip allegedly in response to the escalation in Palestinian militants’ rocket fire against Israel.
Israel plans to paralyse the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip in every possible way and separate itself completely from the Palestinian territory in the long term, Barak’s deputy said on Saturday.
Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told Israeli public radio: ‘We want to separate ourselves from the Gaza Strip at the level of its infrastructure in every way possible.
‘Long term we want to separate ourselves from this territory, 100 per cent.’
Last Friday, Olmert had promised Abbas that he would not cause a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip by not cutting off the power to hospitals.
Last Friday marked the deadliest day of Israeli violence in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip for a month.
Two Israeli air strikes in eastern Gaza City killed three anti-occupation activists and wounded five, medical officials said.
Two of the victims and two of the wounded belonged to the Islamic Jihad movement. The third victim was named as Mahmoud Hasouna, 25.