As many as 2,000 people ranging from college students to housewives to tourists to war veterans rallied in Honolulu for peace on Saturday, as part of a worldwide movement opposed to President Bush’s threat of a military strike against Iraq. United under the theme “Not In Our Name,” peace activists staged a rally at Ala Moana Park, then led a march that filled the streets and prompted many passers-by to honk and cheer in support.
Speakers at the Honolulu rally frequently paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and his philosophy of nonviolent means to bring change. Those stepping up to the microphone included local attorney Eric Seitz, the Rev. Renate Rose of the Church of the Crossroads, local musician and actor James McCarthy, and Hawaiian activist Kalama Niheu.
While organizers estimated the crowd at over 1,300 people, Police Sgt. Glenn Naekawa told the Star-Bulletin that nearly 2,000 could have been participating at some point.
Seitz, who said he’s been “demonstrating against wars for five decades now,” said he was thrilled with the turnout. But he warned that the fight for peace is only just beginning. “We are setting the tone here for what is to come, because the war hasn’t even started yet,” he said. “And it will start.”
“The axis of evil, to me, is Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld,” Seitz said.
Rev. Rose, introduced as a “feminist theologian,” spoke on the immorality of war in the 21st century.
“A famous man once said violence is the last refuge of the incompetent,” she said. “The Bush administration has proven its incompetence in all areas of international law.”
Many were especially impressed with the diversity of participants.
“There were youth as well as seasoned activists represented in the march, and I felt that we all stood out together in solidarity despite our differences,” said Eric Beyer of the human rights group Refuse and Resist. “If we continue this mode of thinking in the future, there’s a very good chance for us to overcome the Bush push for war.”
Rallies and marches were also held on Maui and the Big Island.
On Maui, as many as 400 marchers participated, and organizers unveiled plans for a “Maui Peace Portrait” to be taken Feb. 16 and sent to Washington, D.C.