100,000 in New York March Against the War
From the Singtao Daily,
February 16, 2003
Even with the scent of Valentine's Day roses still in the air,
we already hear the thunder of dark clouds forming over the Middle
East. Yesterday, nearly 100,000 people descended upon the streets
of Manhattan with chants of "We Want Roses, Not Guns!",
joining millions of other peace-loving protesters around the world.
From the New York Public Library to First Avenue, from 42nd Street
to 70th Street uptown, individuals of all shades of skin, of all
tongues, clamored for world peace.
Demonstrators on the streets and the sidewalks packed twenty blocks
of First Avenue by the United Nations. When South African archbishop
Desmond Tutu's image appeared in the gigantic screen set up in the
middle of the crowd, just before he began to address them, the resulting
outpour shook the heavens.
Yesterday's anti-war march in New York was part
of a coordinated protest across hundreds of cities worldwide. The
frigid temperatures and snowfall that preceded the event did not
in any way quell the enthusiasm of the participants, a group encompassing
students, war veterans, young parents with infants, senior citizens
clinging to each other for support, and others. They came into the
city from every possible direction with their placards to congregate
on the east side of Midtown.
Some with posters of "Don't Trade Blood for
Oil" or "We Want Education, Not War", others with
humorous plaster busts of George W. Bush, they all found original
ways to show their love for peace.
Among the marchers was an especially noticeable
Vietnam War veteran seated in a wheelchair, whose two missing legs
alone spoke volumes on the effects of war. Native American participants
decked in traditional dress performed exorcising dances to cast
out the demon of war.
Chinese Anti-War Demonstrators
Members of the Boston Chinese Progress Society
rushed down to the city to participate in the event. Lei Pengfei,
who arrived with the group, recalled the enormous suffering a neighboring
family underwent when one of its members died in the Vietnam War:
"At that time, I was
still in high school. The boy who died was a classmate of my elder
sister's, and was only 19 years old." 49-year old Lei is now
a high school teacher. "I came here today to do all that I
can to prevent
such tragedies from arising again. Of course, even if war were to
eventually break out, I would be certain to tell my students that
peace is the only future that this world should know," he added.
Ni Huiru, who came down to New York with a group
from upstate, is the founder of the Rockland County Peace Network.
She initiated the network on November 23rd last year specifically
to give a voice to those in her area who were opposed to war. Every
Saturday afternoon since its inception, the group has met for two
hour demonstrations throughout Rockland County. "Were the war
to start, we would still gather every Saturday until the fighting
ended to protest against it," she said.
Zhong Chaoyin and Chuan Qiuju, who came to the
United.States from Hong Kong in 1993, also showed up at yesterday's
rally. "Many Chinese think of the Middle East as a far-off
region having very little to do with us. Some feel that as new immigrants,
we should focus upon our own daily affairs, and forget other matters;
however, since we came here to stay, our future and the future of
this nation are one and the same. In addition, we Chinese have been
peace-lovers all along, so why shouldn't we stand out here and voice
ourselves?" said Zhong.
Police officers came out en masse, forming walls
at every major intersection in the Midtown area. Because the crowd
was so thick around the United Nations and the police forbid marchers
from entering First Avenue, many were irritated
Translated from Chinese by Kelvin Wu.
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