Chants of “No justice, no peace, U.S. out of the Middle East” and “Up, up, up with people. Down, down, down with war” resonated through Hahn Plaza Friday as students gathered in front of Tommy Trojan to protest war against Iran.
Around 30 people gathered at the event that was organized by Trojan Advocates for Political Progress, USC Environmental Student Assembly, Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, College Democrats at USC, and USC Students for Justice in Palestine.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike that targeted Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, leading to escalating tensions between the two countries that led to “World War 3” trending on social media. Days after, Iran retaliated by sending airstrikes on military bases in Iraq that were housing American troops.
The protest started with TAPP Vice President Jessica O’Connor leading the chants and thanking everyone for being there to fight for justice and peace in Iran.
“The biggest threat to our stability sits in the White House, in Congress and at the Pentagon,” said O’Connor, a senior majoring in law, history and culture. “Dropping bombs on unsuspecting towns, while lulling us to sleep with the reassurance that this violence will never touch us, but it does touch us.”
ESA co-director Nathaniel Hyman also addressed the crowd, emphasizing why ending the war is important environmentally.
“It was really important that environmentalists support this demonstration because there is no climate justice, no economic justice, criminal justice, justice in general for that matter,” said Hyman, a junior majoring in public policy. “When we can see that human suffering can be minimized to expendable currency and indeed, with conflict, initiated by corrupt desperate and malicious individuals.”
After the speakers addressed the crowd about why the issue was important, O’Connor opened up the platform and encouraged students attending the protest to share their views regarding the airstrikes on Iran.
Tianna Shaw-Wakeman, a senior majoring in psychology and social entrepreneurship, shared a story she had read in the newspaper about a little girl from Baghdad named Sarah, who hated cloudy days because she never knew when a bomb might drop from above the clouds. Shaw-Wakeman asked students to be empathetic and kind when thinking about these issues.
“When you’re thinking about these stories … when you’re reading history textbooks about past wars America stupidly got into, that you don’t just think about the mass amount of people who died,” Shaw-Wakeman said. “Also think about Sarah … that you also think about individuals and their stories and what it would be like to actually be in a war-torn area.”
Andra Astorga, co-director of the Latinx Student Assembly, said it was important that the organization shows support to the other student organizations who put together the protest.
“We’ve supported each other in other protests,” Astorga, a senior studying health promotion and disease prevention said. “Every protest that we’ve, or at least I’ve experienced on campus has been connected in one way or another with the [other organizations].”
Shaw-Wakeman said that protests on human rights issues are important, but most people only think about the personal problems that affect them and not on global issues.
“I think there’s a little bit of complacency when it comes to even the thought of war with another country. It seems like something that wouldn’t affect the way of American life,” Shaw-Wakeman said.
Truman Fritz, Undergraduate Student Government senior director of communications, said he attended the protest as a student concerned about how the war was affecting people both abroad and at home and that USC played a role in helping with military activity.
“USC has a huge stake in how military contractors and the work that they do and the partnerships that they have impacts not only the U.S. but the world at large,” said Fritz, a junior majoring in business administration.
O’Connor also provided TAPP’s reasons for staging the protest and its importance on campus.
“TAPP thought we should do a ‘No War with Iran’ protest in solidarity with the protests across the globe that sprung up after the U.S.’s illegal and unjust actions and aggressions toward Iran,” O’Connor said. “We wanted to make sure that students knew that we were going to support that anti-war movement and wanted to give students a chance to raise their own voices.”