Considerably more than 100 North Texans turned out Saturday afternoon in Dealey Plaza to protest the United States' continued presence in Iraq and the recent American airstrike that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, and four of his associates.
As the protesters waved their signs and chanted their chants, people in cars zoomed passed them on Main Street. Some honked in solidarity, others rolled down their windows, gave protesters the middle finger and yelled "Trump!"
"We are here to protest the terrifying escalation of tension perpetuated by President [Donald] Trump deliberately and consciously with the assassination of the Iranian general who was in Iraq," said Hadi Jawad, executive director of the Dallas Peace and Justice Center.
Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" played from a portable PA system as Jawad approached the front of the crowd to speak.
"We opposed the Iraq War back in 2003. We opposed the war in the early '90s during Iraq one. We also opposed the bombing of Iraq in the 1980s," he said. "This is the freaking fifth decade — the fifth decade — of bombing the people of Iraq. Not only did we destroy Iraq, but the fires that we set in Iraq inflamed the entire Middle East."
The activists erupted in chants. "Never again! Never again! Never again!" they yelled.
Jawad invited longtime activist John Fullinwider to speak to the crowd. With his long, white hair tied in a ponytail, Fullinwider took the mic to explain what he and Jawad say is a history of U.S. lies that have been used to involve the country in wars.
"Sometimes presidents lie to start a war, like President [Lyndon] Johnson, like President [George W.] Bush, like our current president," Fullinwider told the crowd. "...They're all based on lies, but sometimes we want to support a war."
After the airstrike that killed Soleimani, Trump said the general was, directly and indirectly, responsible for the deaths of many Americans and that he was plotting to kill more. Fullinwider said he didn't believe it.
"Now, we come to the mother of all presidential liars: President Trump," Fullinwider said, as boos poured from the protesters' mouths. "Even before the lies of this week, [Trump] had told a whopping 12,000 documented falsehoods. So, we don't expect anything he says, even the words a, an or the, to be the truth. And of course, he told a really good one just yesterday. He said, 'We took action in order to stop a war.'
"Was he lying then?" Fullinwider asks the crowd. "Yes!" they responded.
Party for Socialism and Liberation DFW, Dallas Peace and Justice Center, Dallas Anti-War Committee, CODEPINK Greater Dallas and Veterans for Peace Chapter 106 all hosted the demonstration, which was just one of several major anti-war protests held Saturday in cities across the country. Demonstrations were also organized in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and many other cities.
Meanwhile, on the same day, thousands of Iraqis followed a car carrying Soleimani's coffin as they mourned his death in Baghdad.
Ramon Mejia, an organizer with a group called About Face Veterans Against The War, an organization of post-9/11 service members taking action against militarism and endless wars, pleaded to the crowd of protesters.
"We have to sustain a campaign," he says. "We have to identify active service members that want to refuse to go to war."
As a veteran of the Iraq War, Mejia says there's nothing he can say or do to make right his wrongs from the time he was in the Middle East.
"The only thing I can do is say that I'm sorry and that I'm dedicating the rest of my life to fight against waging war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Nigeria," Mejia says. "All these places are being bombed by the United States government and it's not just Trump. It's Obama. It's Clinton. It's Bush. It's every president. It doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat. There's only one party and that's the war party, and we have to oppose U.S. imperialism."
As long as there is democracy in the U.S., the opposition to these wars will never die out, Jawad says.
Since Soleimani's death, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Americans will "feel the impact" of their "criminal act ... for years ahead," according to the BBC. Over the weekend, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for foreign troops to leave the country, and Iran rolled back its nuclear deal commitments.
Jawad says he hopes Iran can be the adults in the room and that the country's leadership will respond with maturity.
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