Demonstrations against escalation of Afghanistan war take place across the country Saturday, December 5, 2009
Report back from major actions on Dec. 1 and 2
In response to a call for emergency demonstrations issued by the ANSWER Coalition and six other anti-war organizations, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across the country on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 to protest the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Members of the PSL helped organize several of these demonstrations. The Party for Socialism and Liberation is a member of the ANSWER Coalition.
San Francisco, Calif.
A spirited and militant crowd gathered at Powell and Market Streets on the evening of Dec. 2 in San Francisco to demand "No escalation! Troops out now!"
Richard Becker of the ANSWER Coalition and Frank Lara of the Party for Socialism and Liberation spoke at the rally, as well as representatives from One Struggle One Fight and others. Cristina Gutierrez of Barrio Unidos closed the rally with a call for the need to speak up and fight back against the U.S. imperialist destruction going on all around the world.
More than 600 people took to the streets and marched through the main shopping district shouting, "Wall Street's war? We say no! The occupation has got to go!"
The event was organized by the ANSWER Coalition and co-sponsored by World Can't Wait, Code Pink, UFPJ and Veterans for Peace.
Los Angeles, Calif.
In Los Angeles, more than 300 people rallied in front of the Westwood Federal Building. The demonstration included veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military families, and workers and students who are bearing the brunt of the war machine at home.
Long-time activists were present, but also a significant number of young people brand new to the anti-war struggle; many of whom were college students set into political motion by the recent wave of mass student protests against the budget cuts and fee hikes.
Rallying at a busy intersection during Los Angeles rush hour traffic, activists chanted from behind banners reading "Occupation is a crime" and "US/NATO out of Afghanistan." Recognizing that Obama’s aims in Afghanistan have the same goals as Bush’s—imperialist plunder and colonialism—the crowd chanted, "Same lies, same plan, troops out of Afghanistan."
The numbers at this demonstration exceeded that of the recent protest on the 8th anniversary of the invasion, held in October. This reflects a growing trend around the country of public opinion turning against the Afghanistan war, and against the supposed "anti-war candidate" turned president. Many in attendance were once avid Obama supporters whose illusions about Obama being a progressive, anti-war president were shattered by his speech on Tuesday.
The ANSWER Coalition initiated the action, which was endorsed by several other progressive organizations. It was covered by both local and national press.
Dozens of anti-war and social justice organizations participated in a Dec. 2 emergency protest in response to the escalation of the Afghanistan war. More than 400 people came out on a below-freezing work night to rally and march under the slogan "U.S. and NATO Out of Afghanistan Now!"
The protest started with a spirited rally at Federal Plaza. Speakers included Kathy Kelly from Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Ray Parrish from Veterans for Peace, Andy Thayer from Gay Liberation Network, Vicki Cervantes from La Vos de los de Abajo and John Beacham from ANSWER Chicago.
After the rally, protesters marched along Michigan Avenue militantly chanting, "They say more war, we say no more! They say get back, we say fight back!"
Nearly two hundred people attended a rally and picket on Dec. 2 called by the Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition and United for Justice and Peace. The protest was held at the Park St. train station near Boston Commons, a busy after-work through way for commuters. Additional protests organized in Massachusetts occurred in Worcester, Gloucester, Falmouth, Cambridge and Andover.
At the Boston rally, there was a short program of speakers followed by an open mic and moving picket. Many local anti-war and progressive organizations were in attendance, including Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, ANSWER Coalition, Committee in Solidarity with the Honduran Resistance, Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement, International Action Center and International Socialist Organization.
ANSWER organizers handed out hundreds of fliers promoting the March 20 National March and Rally with the help of PSL members, who also distributed flyers for a local PSL forum on Afghanistan. There were many new, young faces in the crowd and many commuters stopped to listen to the rally and get literature.
Protesters gathered outside the White House for an emergency demonstration. Members of the ANSWER Coalition distributed signs and flyers announcing the March 20 anti-war March on Washington.
Although the Bush administration is gone, chants from those earlier years are being heard again on the streets of Washington as Obama claims ownership of the war machine: "No Justice, No Peace: U.S. Out of the Middle East."
Speakers included Brian Becker, national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition, who noted that "The war is not about ‘the security of the people of the United States being at stake.’ If it was, there could be no talk about exit strategies and announced plans for withdrawal."
Becker also spoke of the growing opposition to the war. "Starting today, there will be a growing escalation of anti-war protests in the United States. Tonight and tomorrow there are demonstrations across the country," he said.
New Haven and Hartford
New Haven, Conn.
More than 60 people gathered in New Haven and over 45 people in Hartford, Conn. on the evening of Dec. 2 to protest the escalation of the Afghanistan war. University of Connecticut students organized a demonstration on campus at noon.
Demonstrators spoke out against Obama's plan to spend more money on war and occupation while the economic conditions at home continue to deteriorate. People were outraged by the lies of the administration and the continued escalation of war.
Participants were energetic and spirited, chanting "Troops Out, Now", "U.S. out of Afghanistan, Out of Iraq, Out of Palestine and Don't Come Back!"
Organizers of the events including the ANSWER coalition, CT United for Peace, New Haven Peace Coalition, Middle East Crisis Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Trinity College and many more local antiwar groups. People will continue to demonstrate in CT until all the troops are out.
Demonstrators gathered on Dec. 1 at rush hour at the busy Westlake Park area with signs and leaflets, receiving positive responses from the many commuters and shoppers in the area.
The action was supported by all the major anti-war organizations in Seattle: the ANSWER Coalition, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Sound Non-violent Opponents of War, Veterans for Peace #92, and World Can't Wait.
Speakers from World Can't Wait and ANSWER spoke on the significance of the mobilization. According to Jane Cutter of ANSWER: "The U.S./NATO military intervention in Afghanistan is not a good war or a war of necessity. It is an imperialist war. … There is no reason that the mothers and fathers of the United States should send their children to kill or be killed in Afghanistan so that political leaders can avoid taking responsibility for a military failure."