After a tense week between the United States and Iran, about a hundred people rallied at Dilworth Plaza and marched through Center City streets Thursday evening, decrying any war or continued violence with Iran.
The “No War With Iran” protest, organized through MoveOn.org, was one of more than 370 demonstrations nationwide sparked by the recent assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his country’s vow for revenge.
Three blue peace-sign flags flew amid the freezing temperatures as demonstrators held homemade signs that read, “Give peace a chance," and “Trump: This is your fault.” Others contained Jimi Hendrix-inspired quotes.
The group marched from City Hall down Market and Walnut Streets before returning to Dilworth, drawing curious crowds out of stores and restaurants as they chanted, “No threats, no bombs, no war on Iran."
“We’re spending ... money that could be used for other things such as health care and education,” said Christina Allen, 22, a math education student at Rowan University. “It’s important that we get out here and shake people out of their complacency. We’re the ones that will make a difference.”
A previous Philadelphia rally was Saturday, two days after President Donald Trump ordered the airstrike that killed Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport alongside top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Some Iranian officials called the strike an act of war.
The action has divided Americans and politicians. Some believe that the death of Soleimani should be celebrated, as the high-ranking official was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans. Others have criticized what they’re calling an assassination of a foreign leader, and the fact that Congress was not briefed on the decision, as well as the lack of an overall strategy that could potentially waste resources and put innocent lives at risk.
Trump deployed thousands of troops in response to Iran’s promise of “harsh revenge.” Iran launched a missile attack on American bases in Iraq earlier this week. There were no casualties.
“I went through a war when I was a young woman, the Vietnam War ... and the thought of having to live through another war is just disgusting to me,” said Nad Rosenberg, 75.
Rosenberg attended the demonstration with her husband, Bruce McDowell, a Vietnam War veteran.
“It’s a tremendous waste of the taxpayer money and people’s lives,” said McDowell, who was celebrating his 71st birthday.
Many shared fears of another possible high-casualty, unsuccessful war.
“It’s actually horrifying that we are in this situation again,” said Cathy Zukoski, 71, who spent her youth protesting previous wars. “It’s almost like, if you elect a Republican, you get a war.”
More protests are scheduled in the city throughout the month, including one at 3 p.m. Saturday at City Hall.