Brisbane's March 22 protests



For the second time in two days, up to 10,000 people marched through the streets of Brisbane on March 22. The noon rally at King George Square drew a crowd of 5000 but people kept pouring in from all sides of the square even as the march began at 1.15pm. Stretching for two city blocks and growing in size as many bystanders joined in, the march stopped outside the Brisbane office of US aerospace and arms manufacturing giant Boeing.

From the steps of the building, Adrian Skerritt from the Queensland Peace Network and the Socialist Alliance called for solidarity with the Palestinian people as well as the people of Iraq. Skerritt pointed out that Apache helicopters manufactured by Boeing and sold to the Israeli Defence Force had been used to destroy the homes of Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Unable to be heard by large sections of the crowd with only a hand-held megaphone, the speeches were cut short and the march proceeded towards the official end-point at Waterfront Place.

Not content to finish the march there, the river of people bypassed Waterfront Place and headed back towards King George Square via the Queen Street mall. Once a public space but now thoroughly commercialised, the mall was filled with shoppers who gathered to watch the march cross the mall and stage a spontaneous sit-in in Adelaide Street below the steps of King George Square. A thousand protesters, mostly young people, continued to occupy the street and the steps with chants, drumming and impassioned political speeches. Resistance activist Sam King asked the crowd to pledge that they would return to the square for the March 26 student strike, which responded with a roar of approval.

Added notes from Tim Stewart: Chaired by Ross Daniels, the rally heard from a number of speakers including

Brisbane Mayor Jim Soorley who has replaced the Australian flag with a United Nations flag to "demonstrate the flagrant breach of international democratic processes" in launching a war on Iraq.

Jim Foras from the ALP spoke of the history of US bullying in Mediterranean region and reminded people of the US playing friends, then enemies with countries like it has with Iraq.

After hearing from an Iraqi refugee, Ross Daniels exclaimed to the rally that if John Howard has got any integrity from people fleeing war and famine he'll let every single refugee out of the detention centres.

The loudest applause was spared for a speaker introduced from Kimberely College, who stated young people had nothing to lose and everything to win by opposing the war machine.

William Blum a former US State Department official took to the platform telling the crowd "we are the 2nd superpower in the world", and that "we can't defeat the American empire militarily, but we can defeat it morally."

From Green Left Weekly, March 26, 2003.

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