A protester is seen in front of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, 25 kilometers north of downtown San Diego, California, the United States, March 18, 2023. Anti-war organizations held rallies in Los Angeles and San Diego on Saturday in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which started on March 20, 2003. (Photo by Zeng Hui/Xinhua)
SAN DIEGO, the United States, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Anti-war organizations held rallies in Los Angeles and San Diego on Saturday in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which started on March 20, 2003.
The gathering came amid nationwide anti-war rallies organized by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER Coalition), a U.S.-based protest umbrella group consisting of many anti-war and civil rights organizations.
"We felt today is a good point to get together with younger people to discuss the issues that are involved. It commemorates the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq," Gary Butterfield, a veteran, told Xinhua.
Holding up placards saying "Fund the people's needs, Not the war machine," "Build schools Not bombs," "Path to peace in Ukraine: Negotiate, Don't Escalate," "For peace: Disband NATO" and others, dozens of protesters gathered in front of the gate of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, 25 km north of San Diego downtown.
The protesters also chanted such slogans as "Money for job and education, not for war and occupation" and many drivers passing by honked to show support.
Butterfield said the authority should direct some funds to development issues like health care, child care, and education instead of wars and arms race.
As for the Ukraine crisis, which escalated more than a year ago, Butterfield said: "Too many lives are lost, and there should be more emphasis on diplomacy and negotiation."
"We welcome any country that would come in as an intermediary and to help diffuse the situation," Butterfield said. "We want serious diplomacy to move to a ceasefire and negotiation. It has to start at the politician level, the governmental level. They could turn off the faucet of arming Ukraine."
A similar rally was held in Los Angeles downtown Saturday, organized by Code Pink: Women for Peace, a women-led anti-war grassroots organization. The protesters also called for negotiations for peace in Ukraine and urged the Biden administration to invest more to meet people's needs instead of the war.
"U.S. military aggression succeeded in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, but it failed to impose a stable new order, leaving only chaos, death and violence in its wake. The same was true of U.S. interventions in Afghanistan, Libya and other countries," Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the group, said in an article.