Protests condemn U.S./NATO wars and wars at home

The 11th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was not forgotten by anti-imperialist activists inside the United States. From New York City to Los Angeles, and in dozens of cities in between, the ongoing war and occupation were denounced at actions held Oct. 5-7. Initiated by the United National Antiwar Coalition and related organizations, the series of protests demanded “U.S./NATO out of Afghanistan!” “Hands off Syria!” “Don’t attack Iran!” “No more drone attacks!” and “No sanctions!” Following are outlines of actions in several cities.

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In New York City, protesters rallied Oct. 7 at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Building Plaza in the historic center of Harlem’s Black community. Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council chaired the two-and-a-half hour rally. Bailey made a strong appeal to youth in the Harlem community, emphasizing that the organizers’ message was opposition to wars “at home and abroad.”

Speakers from dozens of anti-imperialist, anti-war and neighborhood organizations underlined this message. U.S. militarist policies, which were seen as expanding due to the prolonged capitalist economic crisis, were strongly condemned. Speakers equally denounced anti-Islam persecution and the latest types of intimidation from local police forces, such as stop-and-frisk and all the recent shootings by killer cops.

On the same day, police arrested 25 people, mostly U.S. military veterans, as they held a vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in lower Manhattan to commemorate those killed and wounded in Afghanistan and oppose the war there.

In Los Angeles, many organizations were among those protesting at Pershing Square Park on Oct. 6. The event was emceed by the International Action Center, which initiated the action. The Southern California Immigration Coalition, Unión del Barrio, Youth Justice Coalition, Cuba Coalition, Syrian Americans for Peace, Union of Progressive Iranians, International League of Peoples Struggles, ­BAYAN-USA, Workers World Party, Peace and Freedom Party, and the Young Communist League were among the represented groups speaking at the rally. All of the speakers, predominantly people of color, were united in opposition to U.S. wars and aggression abroad and against working and poor people here at home. That same day there was a march by the Answer Coalition to a military recruiting station in Hollywood, also commemorating the anniversary of the war.

At the Pershing Square Park rally, all organizations were invited to continue participating with UNAC, which is holding a meeting in Los Angeles on Oct. 16. For more information about the meeting, call 323-306-6240.

In San Francisco, an action initiated by the Answer Coalition — with the endorsement of UNAC and many others — started with a rally at Powell and Market streets. Protesters then marched to the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in solidarity with UNITE HERE Local 2 hotel workers, who have called a boycott of the Hyatt chain.

Later, an “Anti-Colonial Anti-Capitalist March” took place, starting with a rally at B. Manning Plaza. It was sponsored by Occupy San Francisco and supported by members of Occupy Oakland. Workers World Party activists carried a banner reading “Occupy Wall Street, Not Palestine. U.S. Hands Off Iran and Syria.” This march met with heavy repression by the police, including 26 arrests, with all arrestees facing multiple felony charges, and a number of demonstrators injured.

More than 100 people showed up outside the Salt Lake City and County Building for an anti-war rally organized by the Oct. 7th committee of the Utah Anti-War Coalition. The demonstration, held in solidarity with the national call to action denouncing U.S. wars at home and abroad, brought together new activists and longtime peace activists.

Protesters marched through downtown Boston Oct. 6 to oppose U.S./NATO wars. After a rally at Downtown Crossing, people marched to historic Faneuil Hall for rallies. The marchers stopped en route at the Hyatt Hotel to support the UNITE HERE Local 26 boycott, and at the Boston School Department to condemn current plans to bring back the resegregationist policies of “neighborhood schools.” Speakers represented a broad range of the anti-war movement: UNAC, IAC, United for Justice with Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, New England United, Committee for Peace & Human Rights, Rhode Island Mobilization Committee, Veterans for Peace, Smedley D. Butler Brigade, Women’s Fightback Network, Code Pink, Greater Boston, and Occupy Boston Action for Peace Working Group.

In Chicago, demonstrators gathered in front of the Tribune Building on Michigan Avenue, a symbol of corporate domination of the media, to protest the anniversary of the war on the Afghan people. Then they made their way to the Obama re-election headquarters on Randolph Street, where speakers condemned the administration for drone strikes on civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. The crowd chanted slogans opposing U.S. support for terrorism in Syria and war moves against Iran.

Finally, the demonstrators rallied in front of the headquarters of Boeing, a manufacturer of pilotless drones, to condemn this military contractor for its involvement with the wars. Many organizations helped build this action, including Students for a Democratic Society, the Gay Liberation Network, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!), Answer Coalition and Workers World Party.

Activists hit the streets in front of a busy farmers’ market in Buffalo, N.Y., where they distributed hundreds of informational leaflets and talked with people about the urgency of resisting the war here at home as well as U.S./NATO wars abroad. The action, co-sponsored by the Buffalo/WNY International Action Center, Buffalo Forum and Burning Books, received coverage on three local TV stations.

In downtown Detroit, protesters assembled at Hart Plaza on Oct. 5 during evening rush hour, where their message of “Stop the wars” and “No to anti-Islam bigotry” got a good reception by passersby on busy East Jefferson Avenue. The action was initiated by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice.

Internationally, demonstrations were also held in London, Glasgow, Scotland and Vancouver, Canada.

Based on reports from WW reporters John Catalinotto, Ellie Dorritie, Terri Kay, John Parker, Gerry Scoppettuolo, Eric Struch, Summer Wulle and Wilden Wulle.