Anti-Iraq War Organizing in Grand Rapids from 2002 – 2008: Part I

Recently, we posted a piece about the Anti-Afghan war organizing that took place in Grand Rapids in 2001 – 2002. 

Part of that organizing grew out of a Teach-In that took place just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, in early October of 2001. One year later, a second Teach-In was held, this time focusing on Israel/Palestine and Iraq.

It was at that Teach-In, which took place in early October 2002, that people began to discuss the importance of organizing against the Bush administration’s shift from Afghanistan to Iraq, in order to wage its “War on Terrorism.”

The last session at the Teach-In was devoted to discussing plans to mobilizing resistance to a US military build-up against Iraq. People came together for meetings to oppose the war in Iraq in the next few weeks and organized the first protest against the US threat of war against Iraq near the end of October.

The protest consisted of a rally that started at Veteran’s Park in downtown Grand Rapids, where a few people spoke, mainly to get the crowd of 400 people fired up. The crowd then marched through downtown Grand Rapids, without a permit, with part of the march taking place in the streets.

The 400 marchers then went to the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building, where they occupied the steps in front of the building. A few more people spoke and shared information about next steps in the campaign to prevent a war with Iraq.

The 400 marchers was the largest anti-war march in Grand Rapids since the Vietnam war, yet this resistance would only grow in size and intensity in the coming months. The march had been organized by the People’s Alliance for Justice & Change. In Part II of this series we will look at the next phase of anti-war planning in Grand Rapids, including the protest that greeted George W. Bush when he came to town in later January of 2003.

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