On Saturday, United For Peace and Justice is organizing a March for Peace, Justice, and Democracy in New York City. We speak with an organizing coordinator of UFPJ and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/PUSH coalition that is co-sponsoring the march. [includes rush transcript]
We turn now to a series of mass demonstrations scheduled over the next three days. On Saturday, United For Peace and Justice is organizing a March for Peace, Justice, and Democracy in New York City. Co-sponsors of the march include the National Organization of Women, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Friends of the Earth, U.S. Labor Against the War, and Veterans For Peace.
More information at: April29.org
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Jackson, you are also going to be here in New York this weekend for the major protest that is going to be taking place against war. Can you talk about the plans?
REV. JESSE JACKSON: You know, Amy, I was in London before the war started, saying there was no basis for the war, and two million people marched that day in London and also around the world, saying the U.N. inspectors had not been given a fair chance, and there was no evidence at that point of weapons of mass destruction or imminent threat or al-Qaeda connection. We were right then. When our friend and sister led the drive in New York just before the Republican Convention, our sister Leslie Cagan, it was a time then for Democratic leadership to join the demonstration, and they did not, trying to play coy. But now it seems that it is even more obvious we need to march to end a war based upon lies and spies. We’ve lost money and lives and honor. I urge all Americans who care about another course to meet us in New York on Saturday to march to end the war in Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined here in the studio, as we talk about mass demonstrations that are scheduled all over, by Hany Khalil, who is with United for Peace and Justice, an organizer and coordinator. Can you talk about the specific plans for New York and for the various places that people will be protesting this weekend?
HANY KHALIL: Sure. Well, we’re going to have what we expect to be a massive march for peace, justice and democracy here in New York City tomorrow. People are coming from all across the country. We’ve got buses coming from as far away as Wisconsin, Detroit, Chicago. There are peace trains being organized from Connecticut and Jersey and New York State. A thousand people coming on a peace train from New Haven. Labor is going to have what we expect to be the largest labor antiwar contingent probably in history on Saturday.
So we’re very excited about what we think is going to be a powerful demonstration, a call for an end to the Iraq war, but also, a no-war-whatsoever on Iran and new priorities here at home. We’re going to be meeting at 12:00, marching at 12:00 from just north of Union Square, down Broadway, where we’ll proceed to Foley Square and have what will be a dynamic peace and justice grassroots action festival, where there will be more than 19 theme tents and a hundred organizations that are going to offer information and opportunities for people to plug into action to end this war in Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Jackson, you’ve been dealing with New Orleans. You’re dealing with the war. You also have made an offer to a young woman in North Carolina, in Durham, to help her out with her education, because of her allegations of rape at Duke University. And I was wondering, if you could talk about, well, the connections between violence.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, you know, the circumstances surrounding the Duke case are still being revealed by the prosecutor. What I do know is I have compassion on the young woman. And if her argument is, as she tries to pay her way through school and sustain her two children, that she had to strip and to bare her body as a way of making a living, let’s relieve her of that burden. While there are those who would say, "Don’t abort; adopt," I would say, you know, "Don’t strip; scholarship." Let’s get her a scholarship and a job, that she may be able to work her way out of the hole without going deeper into it. It is unfortunate that we’re so tolerant of violence against women, and that becomes another reason, I think, to stand with her until we find out what’s happening.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, talking about Louisiana, talking about New Orleans, there is the vote coming up again, the mayoral runoff, but there isn’t satellite voting outside of Louisiana. Your comments on where the situation now stands in New Orleans.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: What is so sad about that, Amy, is that two-thirds of the citizens are in 47 states around the country. The fact is there are unused military bases like England Air Force Base in Alexandria, and Algiers Base, Belle Chasse Base. Those citizens never had the option to move to those unused bases closer to home or unused state parks, for example. Many of them who are in exile could be living close enough to home to be actually living in temporary housing and working at the same time. Now, they’re strung out around the country.
On last Saturday, for the election, thousands came back by bus and some by plane. And while that looks dramatic, why should they have to have done that in the first place? If you’re a first-time voter, a first-time voter, you must, by state law, show up and vote in person. What an expense, just to vote. Or if you have voted before, you must have two witnesses on authorized affidavit, which you must send for the ballot, to send it back to you. You send it back to Baton Rouge, and then they take it to New Orleans. That is an onerous process upon the basic voter. Why can’t those New Orleanians who are in exile have the opportunity to vote where they are living now temporarily?
The fact is the Department of Justice abdicated its responsibility to uphold the extent of the Voting Rights Act, Section 2, where you cannot dilute minorities, or Section 5, there must be clearance or pre-clearance before you move precincts. Rather than the Department of Justice upholding that standard [inaudible] Voting Rights Act, they threw it to the state. And now states’ rights, for the first time since 1965, are determining the basis of voting.
And so, it is a sense of injustice that those who are the most able and the most mobile are there to vote and play golf and open their businesses back up for tourism. The least able are strung out around the country. It just seems that it violates the Voting Rights Act in such a profound way, that for us to be fighting for a democracy at a billion dollars a day, killing and getting killed in Iraq, and will not afford it in New Orleans is just again another reason why we’ve got to march in big numbers this coming Saturday in New York.
AMY GOODMAN: Hany Khalil, last comment.
HANY KHALIL: Well, I think if there’s anything we’ve learned from the massive immigrant rights mobilizations over the last few weeks, it’s that mass marches can make a difference in shaping the debate in the media and what’s going on in Congress. So it’s vital that folks come out to this march tomorrow, Saturday, April 29, to Midtown Manhattan and join us in the streets. There’s an exciting coalition of groups that’s come together, including Reverend Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH, the National Organization for Women, Friends of the Earth, all working with United for Peace and Justice to make this the most positive and powerful opposition to the war in Iraq and the entire Bush agenda. For more information, people should go to april29.org. That’s april29.org or unitedforpeace.org.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you for being with us, Hany Khalil, and Reverend Jesse Jackson, for speaking to us, who will be in New York this weekend.