- Published: 14 December 2007 14 December 2007
by David Doonan, Green Party of New York State
More than three thousand Greens and other peace activists participated in two rallies and a march through Syracuse, New York on September 29. Not only was this the largest anti-war rally in up state New York since the Vietnam War, but also active-duty soldiers from nearby Fort Drum initiated the event. This was a unique example of outspoken anti-war sentiment among the troops.
Soldiers of the Iraq war, along with Greens and other peace groups, planned the protest specifically for Syracuse as it is close to Fort Drum military base. Fort Drum has the highest number of soldiers serving in Iraq and the highest number of casualties in the country. Not only was the location of the rally meant to highlight the situation of Fort Drum, but was also a way of reaching out to soldiers who visit Syracuse while on leave.
A group of spirited Greens from around the state gathered for a Green rally in front of a home belonging to a Syracuse Green and then marched through city streets to the first rally a mile away. Among the speakers at the Green rally was Bob Gumbs, a disabled veteran and Green candidate for congress from Harlem.
The main rally was held at the plaza in front of the Everson Museum in downtown Syracuse, followed by a mile and a half long march through the city to a second rally at Walnut Park in front of Syracuse University.
Along with Greens, those participating in the dayís events were Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, the Campus Anti-War Network, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out and SEIU 1199.
Speaking at the second rally, Rebecca Rotzler, a New York Green and former deputy mayor of New Paltz, expressed her anger at marching past a center for homeless veterans earlier in the day. "Those are two words - homeless and veteran - that should never go together," she said. (For more information on this issue contact the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
Following the second rally was a series of networking meetings for activists and a panel discussion on the Petraeus Report featuring veteran Jimmy Massey, Dr. Dahlia Wasfi and veteran and former weapons inspector, Scott Ritter.
Despite the good turnout of protesters and coverage by local media, the parks and streets where the rally was held were mostly deserted. The lack of people in downtown Syracuse is due to business going to the suburban malls. Planners should considering protesting closer to where more people gather in the future.