by Susan Fried
Several hundred people gathered at Victor Steinbrueck Park in downtown Seattle on Saturday, January 4th, to protest the U.S. military’s continued involvement in Iraq and the Middle East, and specifically, the killing of Iranian Military Commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike on January 3rd, a move many of those attending the protest fear could lead to a war against Iran.
For many this was their first anti-war protest.but Don Bennett, who protested the Vietnam War in 1964, wanted to show up and say, “that war is exactly the wrong solution for these problems.”
Friends Lee Newell, 20, and Aleah Rand, 22, were attending their first anti-war rally. Both expressed frustration at the U.S. government’s inability to solve problems without resorting to war. “People are people, there are perfectly normal people that we are attacking,” Rand said. Newell said, “I’m here because I’m anti-war, and I’m really frustrated with what’s going on in Eastern Europe and the Middle East right now. It’s really saddening to hear that we can’t find better solutions to these problems, and the course of action that has been taken over the years has been completely inappropriate.”
Kim Loftness has attended many anti-war protests over the years. She said she was there to protest, “yet another war” that the United States, might get involved in, “thanks to a narcissist with a frail ego, that has to show his machismo to his base by calling for an unconstitutional killing of this Iranian leader. Theoretically, this is supposed to be in the U.S. interest, but that is a total lie. This is U.S. propaganda, marketing what this President did so it can justify sending even more troops over to the Middle East, when what we need to be doing right now is getting out of the Middle East. We need to be engaging in diplomatic negotiations with all the players. This is a huge chess match that’s not going to be resolved with more blood and treasure.”
Linda Soriano said she is completely against a potential war. “I don’t like what Trump is doing at all. I don’t feel like he’s been listening to his military people with more knowledge than him. It hurts my heart. There’s a strong possibility that we will be at war again and who are our allies ,tell me who are allies for America? All the nations are turning against us. It’s time for us all to unite together. This is a catastrophe if we go to war. No war, No war.”
A young woman named Shanjani held a sign proclaiming that she was Iranian. She said that the situation made her feel sick to her stomach. “I have family here in the United States, I have family in Iran, and nobody stands to win from this war, not a single soul, except for the one percent and the people in power, and that is unacceptable.’
Despite ever changing weather conditions, which included intermittent rain and sunshine, roughly 500 people stayed to listen to speakers from some of the organizations that called for the protest including CODEPINK, World Beyond War, Voices for Creative-Nonviolence, ANSWER Coalition, and others. After the protest at the park, a group of people, escorted by Seattle Police marched from Pike Place Market to the Westlake Center.