Hundreds of people peacefully demonstrated Saturday against the U.S. war in Afghanistan during a rally at Pershing Square and a march through downtown Los Angeles.
The protest was organized by the LA/Orange County Coalition to Stop the War and the Coalition for World Peace, said James Lafferty, one of the leaders.
The LA/Orange County coalition is affiliated with ANSWER--Act Now to Stop War and Racism--whose organizations held similar protests Saturday in cities around the country, said Magda Miller, another protest organizer.
"We want to send the message that we don't want the innocent people of Afghanistan to be killed in our name," Miller said. "It was the people who stopped the Vietnam War. The people of the U.S. need to stop the one in Afghanistan."
The rally began at 1 p.m. The square quickly filled with numerous progressive organizations peddling their literature and holding signs bearing anti-war slogans. The speakers ranged from religious leaders to progressive politicians, including Santa Monica Mayor Michael Feinstein. Though the rally focused primarily on the war, speakers used the platform to promote socialism and protest the global spread of capitalism.
"We are going to keep coming back to the streets until America comes to its senses," Lafferty told the crowd. "The real patriots are the ones on the streets with the guts to fly the flag of peace."
The Rev. James Lawson, pastor emeritus of Holman United Methodist Church, spoke about civil rights in the United States.
"The end will be when we have millions of people on the streets who demand . . . not war but justice," he said.
Another speaker, Ji Sung Kim, said she lost three relatives who were passengers in one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.
"They'll never come back," she said. "I know they would never seek vengeance."
The crowd spilled into the streets for the march, which was monitored by bicycle and motorcycle officers from the Los Angeles Police Department.
"I feel we have to address the root causes of Sept. 11: global imperialism and [U.S.] support of Israel," said Linda Everett of Fullerton. "This [march] reminds me of the early days of Vietnam. I only hope we are more effective."