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"It Makes Me Think Back to the Awful Days When We Were Struggling Against Apartheid in South Africa": Desmond Tutu Condemns a Federal Court Ban On the Feb. 15th Anti-War March in New York

StoryFebruary 11, 2003
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This Saturday, on February 15th, millions of people around the world will protest the Bush administration’s plans to launch a first-strike attack on Iraq.

From Berlin to Paris to London, Islamabad to Bangkok to Baghdad, from Johannesburg to Cairo, Buenos Aires and Mexico City, and San Francisco to New York City and hundreds of other cities in between, organizers say February 15th could be the single largest day of protest in world history.

But in New York City, a federal judge yesterday banned the massive peace march in Manhattan. Peace demonstrators sought to gather at the United Nations plaza and then march to Central Park for a rally.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones apparently took the word of the New York City assistant police chief, who said he feared the police department couldn’t provide sufficient security for a moving crowd of up to 100,000 people.

The city also linked security concerns about the peace marchers to security concerns about terrorism. Judge Jones noted evidence the city had presented about a failed plot to bomb New York landmarks including the U.N., and the case of a gunman who scaled the fence of the U.N. and fired pistol shots through the windows.

Judge Jones ruled that the First Amendment guarantees the right to protest, but does not ensure the right to march. She said the peace activists can accept the city’s counter-offer of a rally at the U.N. Plaza.

The ACLU immediately appealed the ruling.


  • Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of South Africa.
  • Danny Glover, actor and activist.
  • Leslie Cagan, coordinator of United for Peace and Justice.
  • Bill Perkins, New York City Councilman.


  • Hany Khalil, peace and justice organizer who coordinates Racial Justice 9-11 and works with the anti-war newspaper War Times and United for Peace and Justice.

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