L.A. Libyan Community Protests Tyrant Gaddafi
What began as a series of protests on Feb. 15, spurred on by unrest throughout the Middle East, has ballooned into an all-out war.
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has shown no sign of letting up on the people he has ruthlessly led for 42 years, drawing the ire of the international community. Gaddafi continued to wage war on his own people Friday, relentlessly striking the rebel-held city of Az Zawyiah in one of the bloodiest attacks on protesters since chaos engulfed the country.
At least 30 civilians were killed and hundreds injured.
America continues to wrestle with its response, despite the dire situation.
On Friday, the US Department came out with its strongest declaration to date.
“There are rights and there are responsibilities,” said State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley. “Gaddafi has been a brutal dictator for four decades. And based on what he has done in turning his weapons against his people, rather than engaging them, we believe that he has forfeited his right to lead Libya.”
The U.S. is still entertaining the thought of joining in an international “no-fly zone” over Libya. Some fear the move would signal a war cry.
Locally in Los Angeles, the Libyan community has raised its own collective voice.
Half a world away, a show of support has been on display multiple weekends in Los Angeles, led by the Iranian Green Movement.
On Feb. 13, the Iranian Green Movement organized protests along the streets of Los Angeles, calling for democracy and human rights in Iran.
On Feb. 20, the Iranian Green Movement organized another protest, this one in front of the Westwood Federal Building; this one drawing largely from LA’s impassioned Libyan community.
Cell phones relayed history as it unfolded in Libya.
On Sunday, Feb. 15, the world’s longest reigning autocrat of 42 years, Muammar Gaddafi, fled Libya. It all happened a short time after the rally began as throngs of protesters lined Wilshire Boulevard.
Chants, songs and speeches poured from the mouths of protesters, all in exultation for a moment unprecedented in the country’s history. Their “merciless dictator” had fled, and, it seemed, would surely soon give up control.
But after hours of rejoicing, a sudden melancholy overtook them.
Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, denounced the protesters and said they were “on ecstasy.” He blamed the uprising on Islamists, the media and drug addicts. He all but promised a bloodbath.
In the days following, Gaddafi mercilessly attacked his own people. Many in Gaddafi’s own security force left him, forcing him to pay foreign mercenaries to kill. One afternoon in Westwood showed joy and sadness, hope and disappointment, relief and fear as Gaddafi refused to surrender in the face of a national uprising.