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Demonstrations denounce criminal war on Afghanistan

Protests held in cities throughout the country on 11th anniversary of war

October 8, 2012

On the weekend of Oct. 6-7, 2012, the ANSWER Coalition joined with many other organizations in cities across the country and around the world to call for an end to war and occupation in Afghanistan.

These actions marked the 11th anniversary of the U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan. Contrary to countless state­ments from Democratic and Republican administrations alike claiming “great progress,” etc., the occupy­ing forces are no closer to achieving their aims than when they launched the war. In order to avoid the appearance of defeat, Washington continues to prosecute what is now the longest war in U.S. history—at a very heavy cost. Even as the Afghanistan war drags on, the danger of new wars and interventions is on the rise. The weekend of protests opposed war threats against Iran and Syria, and called for funding people's needs rather than war.

Please see below for reports and photographs from several cities.

San Francisco


Photo: Bill Hackwell

Some 300 people gathered at Powell and Market in San Francisco to decry the 11th year of the criminal war on Afghanistan. Sarah Carlson of the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and Jiddou Sirker of the Progressive Student Union of Oceana High School emceed the rally, making the connection between the inherent racism of U.S. imperialism in its occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and the need to revert the massive war budget to people’s needs such as education. Speakers included Dr. Henry Clark of the West County Toxics Coalition, Iyad Kishawi, a Palestinian community activist, Nancy Mancias of Code Pink, Stephanie Tang of World Can’t Wait, Mazda Majidi of the ANSWER Coalition, Marisela of Yo So 132, Mark Ostapiak of UNAC, Shanell Williams, the student body president of City College of San Francisco-Oceana campus from the Save City College Coalition, Michael Floyd and Cory Dats-Greenberg of UNITE-HERE, Local 2, Frank Lara of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Michael Wong of Veterans for Peace and Richard Becker, West Coast Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition. Many passers-by stopped and participated in the action.

A lively march went through Union Square chanting “We want money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation,” “No justice, no peace, U.S. out of the Middle East” and “Occupation is a crime, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine.” The march stopped at Union Square where the annual Arab cultural festival was being celebrated. In solidarity with the Arab independence movement, protesters and festival participants chanted together “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

As the march left Union square, they were joined by UNITE HERE, Local 2 organizers as they marched together to the final stop, Hyatt Hotel, where workers are boycotting the Hyatt for its abuse and mistreatment. The march joined the workers in a massive picket in the front of the Hyatt chanting: “Hyatt Hotel you’re no good, treat your workers like you should,” “Don’t check in, check out” and “I don’t know, but I been told, Hyatt Hotel’s got no soul.”

Los Angeles


Photo: Erin Wilkerson

Over 200 people rallied on the busy Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles, showing thousands of tourists and pedestrians the message “U.S. out of Afghanistan now!”

Iraq war veterans from the Army, Marines and Navy, joined by high school and college students and military families, led the action through Hollywood carrying mock coffins draped with Iraqi, Afghan, Palestinian and U.S. flags to represent the massive human toll of the war.

The march culminated at the major Army “Career Center.” The protesters placed the coffins at the door to the recruitment center, and swarmed the entrance to shut it down for the day.

As the action shut down the recruitment center, high school students from working-class communities spoke about the need to end the war, and for recruiters to stop preying on struggling students. Pat Alviso of Military Families Speak Out, whose son just returned from Afghanistan following a fifth tour, spoke about the toll on families. War veterans expressed solidarity with the Afghan people, and called on service members to refuse to fight in Afghanistan. Anti-war messages were delivered in English, Spanish and Tagolog.

The action was initiated by ANSWER LA and co-sponsored by dozens of anti-war, immigrant rights, veterans’, student, labor and progressive organizations.

Albuquerque

Activists and concerned members of the Albuquerque community came out on Oct. 6 to demand an immediate end to the Afghanistan war, marking the 11th anniversary of the ongoing U.S./NATO criminal war and occupation of the country. Protesters also carried signs and banners demanding no war and sanctions against Syria and Iran, and freedom and self-determination for the people of Palestine.

The action was part of coordinated activities around the country and around the world to demand an end to U.S. aggression in the Middle East and everywhere.

A militant spirit prevailed throughout the demonstration while chants such as "Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!" and "1-2-3-4, we don't want your racist war!" rang out across the area in front of the University of New Mexico.

A rally with participation from several groups showed the unity of the movement against U.S. imperialist aggression in the Middle East. The program included representatives of Veterans for Peace, Raging Grannies, Stop the War Machine, (UN)Occupy Albuquerque, Students for Justice in Palestine, and GetEqual New Mexico.

ANSWER NM organizer Joel Gallegos called for a continuation of the struggle for justice here and all around the world: "We are the working people who produce the wealth in this country and we're sick of their wars against working people in the Middle East and elsewhere. We need to take back the wealth we produce and use it for schools, healthcare, jobs and housing right here at home."

Chicago


Photo: Ana Santoya

On Oct. 7, anti-war activists gathered in front of the Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue in Chicago for the 11th anniversary of the U.S. war and occupation of Afghanistan. Many different groups rallied to demand the return of all troops from Afghanistan immediately as well as in opposition to any new wars targeting Iran and Syria. After a short rally the energetic crowd marched downtown to the Obama campaign headquarters and then continued on to the headquarters of the war profiteers at the Boeing Company.

The people chanted, “When the people of Afghanistan are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!” and “Hey Boeing, what do you say? How many kids have you killed today?” Members of the ANSWER Coalition brought their anti-imperialist message condemning Wall Street’s war cries against Iran and Syria, demanding that the war machine be shut down and fighting to put the needs of the people before the profits of Wall Street.

Tallahassee, Fla.

On Oct. 5, Florida State University students came together on Landis Green for an anti-war protest marking the 11th anniversary of the Afghanistan War. The “Oppose U.S. Imperialism” demonstration demanded an end to the war in Afghanistan and an end to U.S. intervention in Syria. A few of the signs read: “Military suicide rates highest in ten years,” “Depleted uranium is a war crime,” “1/4 women assaulted in the military” and “Fund education, not occupation.” Representatives from several organizations, such as the Center for Participant Education, The Outlet, F-word, Dream Defenders and Students United for Justice in Palestine spoke against the war. Students then marched to Oglesby Union, where they dropped two large banners reading “Stand up for vets” and “No more war. Stop US imperialism!”

On Oct. 7, Tallahassee held another demonstration at the Florida Capitol building. The rally was sponsored by Tallahassee Network for Justice and Peace, Veterans for Peace - Chapter 15, and Vietnam Veterans Against the War-Tallahassee. Activists there joined the international protest against the wars at home and abroad, the threats to Iran and Syria, and U.S. drone warfare on the 11th anniversary of the Afghanistan war.

Seattle


Photo: Jane Cutter

Activists gathered to mark the 11th anniversary of the Afghanistan war in the north end of Seattle outside of the Army and Marines recruiting office. The office had a sign on it indicating that the office would be open “by appointment only.” Protesters proceeded to liberate the brochures and recruiter business cards on the door intended to ensnare unwitting youth into the military machine, and set up lively vigils on both sides of the street and in the median strip as well.

Organizations represented included ANSWER Seattle, which initiated the action, World Can’t Wait, Lake Forest Park for Peace, United for Peace Pierce County, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Veterans for Peace and the Bradley Manning Support Network.

The intersection near the recruiting office is a busy one adjacent to a shopping mall and near a major transit hub; car traffic was additionally slowed due to road work and the action was seen by hundreds of drivers and pedestrians. Many honked and waved their support of signs and banners that read “Afghanistan: Another war for the rich” and “Drones Kill.”

At the end of the action, some participants gathered for a group photo in front of the shut down recruiting station and made announcements of upcoming activities, including the March Forward! and Veterans for Peace deployment to Ft. Lewis.

New York City


Photo: Elizabeth Birriel

Over the weekend of Oct. 6-7, three anti-war protests took place in New York City, organized by Veterans for Peace, World Can't Wait and UNAC. Over the weekend, rallies took place in Times Square in Midtown, at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Building Plaza in Harlem, and at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in lower Manhattan.

At the war memorial, 25 people, most of them U.S. military veterans, were arrested while engaging in a vigil. According to Veterans for Peace, "At 10:15 pm, the police informed the group that the park was officially closed and that if they remained they would be arrested. Many chose to continue reading names and laying flowers until they were handcuffed and taken away."

Contributing writers: Michelle Schudel, Michael Prysner, Preston Wood, Sean Pavey, Bryan Ellis, Jane Cutter.

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