The World March for Peace and Nonviolence arrived to New York City today, November 30. A team of 25 international representatives comprising the base team of the World March landed early in the morning in Kennedy airport after having travelled for 60 days through 50 countries on four continents, bringing their message of peace and nonviolence throughout various global conflict zones.
Shortly after their arrival from Senegal, the base team made their way to Brooklyn Borough Hall where more than 1000 people welcomed them and accompanied them over the Brooklyn Bridge despite the rain, wind and cold. Concluding the march across the bridge, marchers gathered at New York City Hall, where a press conference was held.
Immediately following the press conference, New Yorkers representing more than 100 cultures, among youth, students, children, teachers, religious leaders, organizations, international representatives from consulates and city officials, gathered on the steps of City Hall to show their support for peace, calling upon governments to abandon their talk and begin to take action for generating peace and nonviolence.
In a show of support for the World March leaders from unions, religious organizations, and political leaders participated in the gathering accompanying Rafael de La Rubia, international spokesperson for the World March for Peace and Nonviolence and Chris Wells, spokesperson for the United States. Among those present were council members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Julissa Fererrars, union leader Steve Kramer, Iman Shamsu Ali, Dr. Uma Mysorekar, and several local public schools.
At 7 pm, an official ceremony was held in the historic Riverside Church to welcome the 25 members of the international World March team in which Dr. Barnard Lafayette participated, who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King as a life-long proponent of civil rights and nonviolence. The event, free and open to the public was a multi-cultural multi-media presentation including speeches and performances under the theme of “Beyond Violence”.
The arrival of the World March occurs the day before President Obama will announce his plan to deploy troops to Afghanistan, and comes as a reminder to Obama to “live up to the Nobel Peace Prize” recently awarded to him.
Throughout the World March, the international base team met with presidents of Finland, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and have received the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI. A delegation of the World March also participated in the Tenth Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates held in Berlin where the World March International Team was given the “Charter for a World Without Violence” to deliver to global representatives worldwide.
The March demands that governments renounce the use of war as a means to resolve conflicts, global nuclear disarmament, the immediate retreat of invading troops from occupied territories, the progressive and proportional reduction of conventional weapons, and the signing of treaties of non-aggression among countries.
Upon leaving New York, members of the international World March team will attend events in Washington, DC, Montreal, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. In Mexico they will begin the Latin American leg of the World March with an event to be held on the Mexican-U.S.A. border. The World March for Peace and Nonviolence will culminate January 2, 2010 in Punta de Vacas, Argentina, where a celebration of the 99,000 mile journey will be held high in the Andes Mountains at the border of Chile and Argentina.