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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Groups protest Iraq occupation

Several hundred people rallied in Lafayette Park across from the White House Saturday afternoon to peacefully protest the use of troops in Iraq and the Bush administration’s support of Israel.

The protest, followed by a march through the city, was sponsored by the group Act Now to Stop War & End Racism. Organizers said the hastily prepared event was in response to the March 31 massacre in Fallujah, Iraq, where insurgents burned and butchered the bodies of several American contractors. U.S. Marines have laid siege to the city following the attacks.

“Those people in Fallujah have refused to surrender,” said Brian Becker, an A.N.S.W.E.R. leader. “We are the people of Fallujah. They are our sisters and brothers.”

“The U.S. has to leave Iraq not tomorrow, not next week, but today – that is the solution,” Becker said.

President Bush has announced that he will transfer power to Iraq by June 30.

Protesters also criticized Bush for the possible use of faulty pre-war intelligence.

“George Bush lied to the U.S. when he said there were weapons of mass destruction. We all knew he was lying,” Becker said.

A.N.S.W.E.R. leaders rode in a white Ford F-150 truck as they led a crowd with cheers such as “The biggest terrorists in the world today are Bush, Cheney and the CIA” and “Self-determination now.” After an hour-long rally in Lafayette Park, about 200 people marched north to Adams Morgan and U Street as police cordoned off city streets.

There appeared to be no arrests during the demonstration.

The protest was interrupted by a group of several men claiming to be Iraqis who shouted at the demonstrators and said they did not know the truth about Iraq.

“America is a freedom fighter all over the world,” one of the men said.

“I would love to see Iraq be the 51st state,” he added.

Another one of the men, Rahim Al-Shamaray said the immediate withdrawal of troops would be dangerous for Iraqis because it would leave the country vulnerable to other Middle Eastern nations including Syria, Turkey and Iran.

Protesters also likened the Iraqi occupation to the three-year Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hussein Agrama, of the Free Palestine Alliance, spoke in Lafayette Park as another protester waved a Palestinian flag.

“The Palestinian people won’t end the intifada until the occupation ends,” said Agrama, referring to the Palestinian uprising against Israeli troops. “(The occupation) is wrong, it is a crime, and it has to end.”

During the march, protestor Dorothie Southern wore a shirt reading “We are all Palestinian.”

She said she was upset that the United States had not separated itself from Israel in the wake of last month’s assassination of the founder of the militant group Hamas.

Other protesters said the massacre in Fallujah was not an isolated event and that it signals widespread opposition to American forces.

Alexandra Phillips, an A.N.S.W.E.R. student leader, said, “The Bush administration is trying to tell us the incidents in Iraq … are isolated. We know that’s not true.”

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