BY GRANT COLEMAN
WOLLONGONG — On February 8, the people of this working-class city mobilised in numbers never before seen in the Illawarra, exceeding even the protests against the Vietnam War. More than 5000 people came out to demonstrate their absolute opposition to a war on Iraq.
The march and rally reflected a broad cross-section of the local population. There were long-time peace activists and newly active young anti-war activists. However, the majority of those present had not been to a protest for many years, if ever. Some had not demonstrated since the 1960s.
The Islamic community, as well as Catholics and other religious communities were there in force. Also notable was the trade union presence, including firefighters, maritime workers, public service workers and construction workers.
There were people who had come alone, and others who arrived in large groups with their own banners. There were young children, primary-school age children, high school students, university students and young workers. Just as vocal were the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
As I weaved through the crowd, I heard people discussing the latest news, joking about John Howard's and George Bush's justifications for war and talking optimistically about the size of the February 14-16 national day of action against the war.
Everyone was convinced of one thing: we have to try and stop the war. Many believe we can.
From Green Left Weekly, February 12, 2003.
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