Around 100 protesters gathered despite the rain at City Hall Saturday morning to participate in the Global Day of Protest against what they fear to be imminent war with Iran.
The event was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation in conjunction with the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition. Various other groups, including Penn’s Students for Socialism & Liberation, lent support to the planning and execution of the gathering.
Saturday morning's protest was part of an anti-war movement sparked by the Jan. 3 assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Solemani’s death has raised widespread public concerns that Iran and the United States may be moving towards war. In response to the heightened tensions between these two countries, over 200 protests were scheduled to take place around the world to express opposition to the escalating military conflict, according to Walter Smolarek, an organizer affiliated with the PSL.
Smolarek explained that the groups also protested what they believe is excessive military spending that fuels war.
“It’s especially insulting that the U.S. government spends about a trillion dollars a year, when you add it all up, causing death and destruction all around the world rather than meeting the needs of people here and repairing some of the damage that they’ve done around the world,” Smolarek said.
Many student groups from different universities in the Philadelphia area helped coordinate the protest.
Erik Vargas, a College senior and leader of Students for Socialism & Liberation, explained the importance of students getting involved in the movement.
“It’s like, what are 50 people at city hall gonna do? But it does add up," Vargas said. "There does need to be this movement. And there is a movement growing, and we need to keep that going."
Temple senior Tina Ngo highlighted the key role student voices played in past anti-war movements and how university students are especially harmed by the United States' involvement in war.
“[War] directly affects every American, including American students,” Ngo said. “There are trillions of dollars going into funding the military, warfare, and technology, but there’s no money going towards education. We have a trillion dollars in student debt, and none of our politicians are even considering transferring some of these funds that are going towards warfare towards providing for the students here.”
The next Day of Action protests are scheduled to take place from March 19-21, and more specific information will be released on the PSL Facebook page in the coming days.