Protests were held throughout the United States on Saturday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and calling for an end to the dual occupations of Iraq and Palestine. Tens of thousands of Americans gathered in dozens of cities to march, rally and carry out acts of civil disobedience to call for peace in the Middle East.
In Washington, DC, a dozen Iraq Veterans Against the War were arrested while shouting, "Arrest Bush, not Vets" – the group had tried to subpoena Bush and Cheney for alleged war crimes. Thousands more gathered outside the White House calling for impeachment of Bush and Cheney for lying and manipulating the U.S. public into invading Iraq, and continuing the assault for five years straight.
In Richmond, California, a suburb of San Francisco, activists and community members protested the war in Iraq, environmental racism and global warming by blockading the Chevron oil refinery. A coalition including health, environmental and anti-war ogroups had called for people to shut down the Chevron refinery for the day of Saturday, March 15th in support of community efforts to stop Chevron from expanding its Richmond refinery. 25 activists were arrested for taking part in the blockade.
Most of the protests around the country had a 'Free Palestine' contingent, who called for an end to both the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. People of all backgrounds and ethnicities joined together at a march in Portland, Oregon, shouting "Free Free Palestine!", and holding banners and flags to that effect. The Portland rally included music by David Rovics, and speakers who addressed the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The crowd of around 4,000 people let out a big cheer when Rovics sang his famous song "They're Building a Wall", about the Israeli Annexation Wall currently being constructed deep inside the West Bank.
Torrential rain and hail did not dampen the spirits of the crowd, who continued to march through the downpour, demanding an end to both the occupation of Iraq and the occupation of Palestine. Palestinians, Iraqis, Tibetans, and refugees from oppression worldwide stood beside and in support of the Immigrant and the beleaguered American worker, with banners connecting the issues of war and global capitalism and Corporate greed. Young people led the march, and have been planning a national student walkout that will take place on Wednesday March 19th.