Photos by Alvin Engo.
With unbridled optimism for Americans at the dawn of a new decade, renewed conflict may bring more U.S. military efforts to the Middle East as rising tension between Iran and the U.S. grows to a boiling point. And that has Long Beach protestors saying no to another American “endless war.”
On the third day of the new decade, the United States military, under orders of current President Donald J. Trump, carried out a drone strike on an Iranian convoy fatally intercepting Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani had led covert operations using the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s military and economic branch that carries out both domestic and foreign military operations.
In response, on Jan. 8 the Iranian military struck back on U.S. bases stationed in Iraq with no government-reported casualties so far, but 11 U.S. troops were later confirmed to have suffered from concussions.
While observers find a sudden de-escalation of military forces on both sides, according to National Review, tensions still persist. “The situation regarding Iran is tense, no doubt,” adding that Iran might “strike back at us through a terrorist proxy, either at home or abroad.”
In Long Beach, myriads of groups have signaled their opposition to the escalation, including Mayor Robert Garcia who tweeted “Agree completely” to Rep. Alan Lowenthal’s tweet that President Trump “is risking wider conflict between the U.S. and Iran with far reaching and dangerous consequences.”
The Democratic Socialists of America – Long Beach and Long Beach Anarchist Collective have expressed their opposition towards the escalation and held their own protest against being pushed into another conflict in the Middle East.
Locals Gabriel and Dylan (who did not give their last name), a couple who had just previously moved from New York about one year ago, came to Long Beach with an interest in sparking change. On another day, they held their own protest to voice their opposition to military escalation on January 9.
The couple used the site MoveOn to host this protest with more than 30 protesters attending voluntary or with other activist groups. Youth were also involved to participate with representatives from the Gay & Straight Alliance (GSA) present alongside members of the Grey Panthers.
“I thought it was super important to voice our own opinions,” said Gabriel. “It’s great that many people in Long Beach are politically active and I just thought a couple of people would show up. It’s great!”
Amongst the protesters was Teddy Hart, a pastor in Long Beach. He protested alongside his wife and two young sons, one of them being in a stroller. The family was one of various families attending the protest with their children. When asked why he would let his young children take part, Hart replied, “I don’t think war solves anything. I’m a proponent for anti-violence… We want them to understand [protesting against violence] is our family ethic.”
As the new decade dawns, and with earnest hopes, many are left wondering what the rest of the decade holds in the coming years. But for the protesters, the chanting of “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” lingers as the years begin to roll.