If you can’t march when they are torturing people, when can you march?


“If you can’t march when they are torturing people, when can you march?”

That was the question posed by Samantha Hamlin, Columbia College student speaking for World Can’t Wait on Sept 26, right at Mayor Daley’s door in City Hall, as the Chicago Chapter of World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime brought together an impressive array of voices from across the political spectrum to speak out against the City of Chicago’s denial of our permit application to march on Oct 5th.

The press conference was lead off by Samantha Hamlin of the Chicago Chapter Steering Committee, followed by Judge R. Eugene Pincham; Nick Egnatz from Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Vets for Peace; Donnie Moore, University of Illinois student; Bob Bossie, 8th Day Center for Justice who has made numerous trips to Iraq; Ali Khan, Executive Director of the American Muslim Council; Andy Thayer, gay and anti-war activist; Rev. Greg Dell of Broadway United Methodist Church (id only); high school students from Wells HS; and Dennis Dixon from the Chicagoland Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights.

Banner image from The World Can't Wait!

Against the back drop of the WCW’s burning globe logo, these voices spoke truth. Ali Khan asked, “How could the government say they are fighting for democracy when everyday they are violating human rights, torturing people, denying them due process, they are crossing the line and violating the law.” Nick Egnatz from VVAW and Vets for Peace underscored this point by asking “when will the American people speak up?” Donnie Moore, a student at UIC, explained his perspective on why we need to be in the streets on October 5, and Judge Eugene Pincham noted that the City was employing the same arguments officials used to try to block civil rights marches in the 60’s. “Once officials start dictating where people can go to make their protests, then that is saying that they can control the protestations, that isn’t fair or constitutional.” Closing the press conference, two students from Wells High school said that youth were angry about the future this regime has in store for them and challenged people to be out on the streets on Oct 5.

Editor’s Note: World Can’t Wait has called for a unified and widespread Mass Day of Resistance, on Thursday, October 5th. From worldcantwait.net ,” On October 5, people everywhere will walk out of school, take off work, and come to the downtowns & townsquares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to join us – making a powerful statement: NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!”The bold and much-needed action planned by World Can’t Wait is quite naturally meeting resistance in some places. March permits have thus far been denied in Chicago and New York City. No matter. The gathering momentum toward a return to constitutional government will not be sidetracked by the mere denial of a permit to march somewhere.

People are waking up. So are the powers-that-be — they’re waking up to the threat an informed, angry and motivated citizenry poses to their plans for turning the US into a third-world country. Help make October 5 the day no one can deny that we the people have finally had enough.

CITY OF CHICAGO DENIES PERMIT FOR OCTOBER 5TH MARCH but tells people who call to protest that the permit was not denied.

World Can’t Wait learned late on Friday, Sept. 22, that the City of Chicago denied our application for a permit to march on Thursday, October 5.

The denial of our application appears to be part of an alarming pattern nationwide. WCW protestors in San Francisco have been denied a permit to march on Oct 5th on the basis of “homeland security” and WCW NY was also denied a march permit for “traffic and safety” reasons. We would like to know whether Homeland Security advised the City of Chicago to deny WCW’s march permit.

Please continue to register your protests with Emergency Management Director Velasquez’ office (312-746-9111) as well as with the office of the Mayor (312-744-3300) and make clear that you consider a non-march of three blocks along Jackson (putting us at Federal Plaza at 2:00 pm in the middle of an arts and crafts fair) is in no way comparable to the very reasonable route we applied for. The press conference ended with questions from reporters, “The City of Chicago has given you another route, why is this unacceptable?” Bob Bossie answered in terms of the current world situation. “I am astonished that the City would deny World Can’t Wait a permit to march when the crimes that are being committed by the invasion of Iraq, the torture and unlimited detentions that are going on by our government, the killing of all these people in an unjust and immoral war must be stopped and we must be able to take to the streets and speak to that.” Reporters from Channel 7, WBBM, WLS, McGill wire service, and CAN-TV were present. WBBM ran coverage of the press conference over their commuter newscast in the late afternoon. The print media were noticeable by their absence, once again illustrating why we must have the right to take our message directly to the people since the corporate-owned media will not acknowledge the expressed sentiments of millions. WCW also received a statement of solidarity from 911truth.org that included the following, “We are at a critical moment in time. Even as it strips our liberties and presides over the willful destruction of the US economy, the current administration has sought to further insulate itself from the citizens it is supposed to serve. We cannot afford to allow this trend to continue. We urge all concerned citizens to join WCW in a work stoppage next week, and in helping to create the conditions for the removal of a criminal regime.” Volunteers are still needed for the legal team to fight this battle in the courts. And until we’re granted a march route where we can be seen and heard, please keep the phone calls rolling to the City of Chicago (see sidebar). Click here find more info on the permit denials in Chicago, New York and San Francisco and what you can do about it — flood the city governments with phone calls and emails; if you have a platform to speak publicly, use it; and if you are a lawyer, help fight this in the courts.

These attempts to marginalize WCW and suppress dissent will be met with even broader outreach, mobilizing people throughout the country to Bring it to a Halt Oct 5th-Drive Out the Bush Regime!

Statement in Support, from 911Truth.org

On behalf of 9/11truth.org, we want to express our extreme disappointment at the decision to deny permits for the WCW actions of October 5th. We are disappointed, but of course we cannot say we are surprised.

We take the denial of the protest permits to be an index of the strength of the action WCW has planned.

When a criminal administration sees people taking to the streets to demand accountability from their leaders, when they see people finding the courage to draw on their political power and deploy it as a challenge to the murderous status quo, when they see people openly calling for the removal of their leaders for their crimes – when they see this, those in power grow frightened that the people are beginning to behave as citizens rather than mere subjects, and that above all will not be tolerated in the post-9/11 world.

Americans have endured an unremitting assault loss on our liberties in recent years, all – we are told- in the name of ‘homeland security’. Yet the architects of this Orwellian enterprise do not understand that true citizens will never feel secure in a country where their protests against the abuses of power are not welcomed. With our right to dissent eroding to the point where it may very soon be literally criminalized, we feel our democracy is imperiled, the very opposite of secure.

The denial of the right to protest is a predictable consequence of the government’s exploitation of the September 11th attacks. We must not be fooled into accepting the unjustifiable denial of citizen actions as a some new ‘necessity’ in the post-9/11 world.

We must speak these words clearly: the right to protest the actions of the US government is simply not negotiable. What our leaders so plainly do not understand is that, in a democracy, the exercise of government power is paid for by the right of the people to voice their opinions. There is no other currency. Where the people are silenced and stripped of their liberties, the government exercises power unjustly, and must be removed.

We are at a critical moment in time. Even as it strips our liberties and presides over the willful destruction of the US economy, the current administration has sought to further insulate itself from the citizens it is supposed to serve. We cannot afford to allow this trend to continue. We urge all concerned citizens to join WCW in a work stoppage next week, and in helping to create the conditions for the removal of a criminal regime.

NOTE : Debra Sweet and Jim Oberg represented World Can’t Wait at the Chicago conference; available online here .

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