WASHINGTON - March 18 - Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, winner of the 2003 Ghandi Peace Award, has accepted an invitation to be one of the keynote speakers at the Rally Against War and Occupation (Global Day of Action) in New York on March 20th.
Kucinich, the Ohio Congressman who led the fight on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose the 2002 resolution empowering the President to invade Iraq, announced he will leave the campaign trail in Alaska to attend the Saturday events, where tens of thousands are expected from Boston, Washington and the Northeast. Specially designated "peace trains" are also coming from Connecticut, New Jersey and Long Island.
Kucinich, the last remaining active challenger to Sen. John Kerry, is the only Democratic presidential candidate who voted against the war resolution two years ago. "Giving the President carte blanche then was the wrong decision," Kucinich said, "and the events and revelations over the past several months have proven that there was no legitimate basis for the invasion."
More than 250 similar protests are planned in cities all across the United States, as well as in dozens of countries around the world, to mark the one year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
"Last year, I stood on New York's First Avenue and looked out at a half-million people who were protesting what was then the prospective involvement of the United States in Iraq." Kucinich said. "Since then we've seen that there has been nothing but a trail of lies that led the United States into its involvement in Iraq. That Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. That Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaida's role in 9/11, and that it had nothing to do with the Anthrax attack upon this country."
The NYC event begins with an hour-long kickoff rally, then a march through Midtown Manhattan, followed by a closing rally at Madison Ave. and East 23rd St. Other rally speakers will include Tony Benn, former member of the British Parliament; Adele Welty of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows; and Fernando Suarez del Solar of Military Families Speak Out.
A central plank in Kucinich's platform has been the withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq, as well as the establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Peace. "We must work toward a society in which a Department of Peace is as important as a Department of Defense, in which we spend as much on health and education as we do on our military. We must get the UN in and the US out of Iraq. And we must bring home as soon as possible the American servicemen and women who have served so long and so hard in Iraq."
"Right now, neither the leading Democrat nor the Republican Administration is willing to commit to a plan to bring our troops home," Kucinich said. "I look forward to joining forces with people throughout America and the world as we send a united message to governments and peoples everywhere: an end to war and a beginning to peace. We will no longer tolerate a world in which war is the driving force and peace merely an interval between conflicts."
Thousands of Kucinich campaign volunteers all across the country have been working with local organizers of various March 20th events in New York and other cities to lend support and provide coordination.