by Mac McKinney
Staff writer for The Southern 'I',
a Hampton Roads, Virginia Independent Media Journal
Protesters held a peace demonstration at Gate 5 at NOB, the Norfolk Naval Operating Base, home of the Atlantic Fleet, this Sunday afternoon, October 1st. This was in response to ongoing, threatening rhetoric toward Iran by the Bush Administration and news that a nuclear carrier strike group led by the USS Eisenhower would be steaming out of Norfolk on Tuesday, October 3. The small strike group, consisting of some half-dozen naval vessels, is said to be under orders to position itself for actions off the coast of Iran by October 21st, 2006.
This is viewed by alarm in many quarters, particularly in light of the fact that the US Air Force was tasked earlier this year with drawing up plans for a massive bombing campaign against Iranian nuclear reactor facilities and military infrastructure. And there have been allegations in various journals and websites of clandestine U.S. Special Forces-sponsored activities within Iran's borders, including sabotage and assassinations, possibly through the aegis of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, a Kurdish independence group traditionally on the U.S. State Department terrorist list, that is accused by both Turkey and Iran of ongoing terrorist acts against their citizens.
In response to all this, local peace and justice groups mounted a demonstration against an attack on Iran from Noon to after 2:00 pm today outside Gate 5, the main entrance for the submarine piers at NOB, taking up positions at all four corners of the intersection at Gate Five with signs and posters. Members of the Norfolk Catholic Worker, Hampton Roads Peace and Justice Coalition, the Tidewater Peace Alliance, Gaia Circle, Norfolk Food Not Bombs as well as the Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality focused on getting their messages out to local motorists and pedestrians going in and out of the Naval Base or moving up and down Hampton Blvd, many of whom are military personnel. Reaction from military personnel and other motorists was quite mixed, with some honking in support, many just staring at the signs to read them, and some yelling out various hostile remarks, several too crude to print.
Asked why she was demonstrating, Luna Negra, one of the organizers from the Tidewater Peace Alliance, said, "The purpose of this event for me was to let the military know that we are aware of the intentions of the Bush Administration in relation to Iran, just like we knew what their intentions were in relation to Iraq. We took to the streets before the war on Iraq and we will take to the streets again in order to be heard by the people in power. Any of these wars are not endorsed by me or by many of the American people."
Around 1:00 pm demonstrators were surprised when an organization all the way from the Washington DC/Maryland area showed up and joined the demonstration, some half dozen members of CASMII, the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran, carrying two large banners demanding dialogue with and truthfulness about Iran that they unfurled along Hampton Blvd. They had gotten wind of the local event through the Internet and were glad to make the long drive to Hampton Roads to confront what they consider a serious threat to the Middle East region. They pointed out that certain elements within the Bush Administration, the Media and Congress are clearly pressing an attack on Iran.
They commented also that there seems to be a de facto media blackout on demonstrations against war with Iran in the Washington DC area. Ironically, there was no media coverage of the demonstration today by any local newspapers or TV Stations except for the Southern 'I', a small, local independent journal. Local TV station and Fox affiliate WTKR, Channel 10, did do an interview on a previous date with one of the organizers and did dispatch a news van to this Sunday's event. However, bizarrely, no personnel ever left their van and they simply drove off after a short wait.
When asked about this episode, another demonstration organizer, Star Womanspirit of the Tidewater Peace Alliance exclaimed, "I am here to do what I can to give a voice to the majority of the people. The majority of Iraqis (62%), the majority of our troops (72%), and the majority of Americans (64%) want America to withdraw from Iraq. These voices have been silenced by a corporate media that gives the elite--a tiny group--the power to blast their message all over the world. That same corporate media that silences the voices of the majority refused to cover this rally today....the first local rally against Bush's war on Iran."
All told, some thirty plus individuals showed up over the two hour plus period in the hot sun to voice their displeasure with the Bush Administration's increasingly hostile stance toward Iran. Some demonstrators also discussed among themselves reports and rumors on the Internet that Karl Rove has promised the Republican leadership an October Surprise, speculating whether an attack on Iran would become just such a politically motivated scenario.
Oct 1, 2006
(This article is reprinted with the permission of The Southern 'I', which, although it currently has no website, works with the Hampton Roads Independent Media Coalition, www.HRIMC.org. This article with photos of the protest will be posted there.)