A crowd of protesters numbering in the tens of thousands gathered in Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday to demonstrate against the looming U.S.-led war on Iraq.
Carrying signs bearing slogans like “Drop Bush Not Bombs,” the mass of people paraded down Queen St. and University Avenue and ended up at U of T’s Convocation Hall for a rally at 2:30 p.m.
Faline Bobier, a spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop The War, one of the rally’s organizers, said the large turnout “revealed that the majority of public opinion does not support the war.”
She went on to say the demonstration was only one of 30 taking place across the country and one of 22 happening worldwide.
The United Jewish People’s Order was another participating organization. Maxine Hermoline, one of its leading members, said they were marching because “the parade falls into our longstanding commitment to find a peaceful and just solution to all wars (not just the Palestinian-Israeli conflict).”
The parade ended in a mass rally at Convocation Hall that was sponsored by the organization Science For Peace. The event drew speakers from the Native community, York University’s Osgoode Hall law school, and student artists.
Jimmy Dyck, a speaker from the Native community, commented on the need to cut back on oil consumption in order to prevent conflict in the future. “We need to stop the U.S. from controlling the United Nations,” he added. Dyck said the Native community supports every movement for peace and the prevention of war with Iraq.
Michael Mandel, a lawyer from Osgoode Hall, focused on America’s wrongdoings. “The U.S. has more weapons of mass destruction than the rest of the world combined,” he said. Mandel also quoted U.S. linguist and activist Noam Chomsky: “[the] U.S. is the leading terrorist state in the world.”
Mandel talked about what he called the devastating effect U.N. sanctions have had on the Iraqi population, and said the U.N.’s estimated civilian death toll in a hypothetical war in Iraq is approximately 500,000 lives lost.
Convocation Hall was filled to capacity during the rally, which was simultaneously broadcast by speakerphone to protesters who were unable to get in.
Each guest speaker was treated to immense applause from the crowd, which at times banged on their chairs and the walls to show their support.