Video: Demonstrators March Through Amherst in Solidarity With Egyptian Protesters as Part of National Day of Action
AMHERST — Demonstrators marched through town Saturday as a gesture of solidarity with Egyptian protesters, who took to the streets of Cairo recently to demand democratic reforms.
Egypt has been in a state of unrest since late January, when thousands of Egyptians — emboldened by a successful uprising in Tunisia — began railing against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
The protesters in Amherst were also marching to draw attention to the United States’ role in the affair, according to members of the Western MA Coalition for Palestine, an ‘umbrella group’ of over a dozen local organizations, including the Middle East Peace Coalition of Western Mass., Amherst Amnesty International and the Amherst International Socialist Organization.
“One point is to make the connection between the funding the Obama administration gives to the Mubarak regime and how weapons actually produced in the United States were used to attack the pro-democracy protesters in Egypt,” said Charles Peterson, a member of the coalition.
Chanting things like, “From the Nile to the sea, Egypt, Egypt will be free,” the crowd marched from the Haigis Mall on the University of Massachusetts campus to Amherst College, through freezing rain and to occasional honks of support from passing cars.
Police cars escorted the demonstrators through traffic as they marched down North Pleasant St. to the Amherst College campus, where speakers took turns at the megaphone, drawing connections between the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and the plights of people in Sudan and Palestine.
“I believe a strong movement like this — civil disobedience, like what’s happening in the streets of Cairo, and Sudan, and Yemen and Tunisia — is going to be victorious,” Dr. Mohamed Elgadi, the coordinator for Amnesty International Amherst, told the crowd. Elgadi, who said he was “half Sudanese, half Egyptian and 100 percent international activist,” emphasized the importance of youth involvement in democratic reform.
“This is very important,” he said. “We should support all the students there.”
Saturday’s demonstration was part of a national day of action. The Associated Press reports that demonstrations were held in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans, Detroit, Toledo and Washington today. The AP reports:
About 150 people gathered outside the New Orleans federal building to demand that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak step down. Meanwhile, about 180 people demonstrated in Atlanta outside the headquarters of CNN. In Washington, more than 100 marched from the Egyptian Embassy to the White House, following protests in that city on Tuesday and last Saturday. Rallies were also held in New York and Seattle.
Organizers in Amherst said today’s demonstration was part of a larger movement to draw attention struggles for democratic reform abroad and the role the U.S. has to play &mdash both negative and positive — in affecting their outcomes.
“It’s not just a small protest on a street corner. We can say we’re actually part of a broader global movement,” said Michael Fiorentino, a student at Holyoke Community College and a member of the coalition. “I mean, there’s going to be thousands of people in cities and towns across the country. And I think it’s a good way to say, look, concretely, we have a lot of people who support the process that’s going on in Egypt … Coming out of the march we want to say, What do we do on our campuses, what do we do in our communities, what do we do in our trade unions?” SOURCE