Connecting the dots between war & poverty
Published Feb 28, 2010 8:56 PM
Two street meetings held on Feb. 19, one in Los Angeles and the other in
New York City, confirmed mass opposition to the war in Afghanistan and
disillusion with the government by a population reeling from unemployment,
foreclosures and budget cuts.
That week the U.S. had started a new offensive in Afghanistan. There were
already reports that the Air Force had “accidentally” bombed
civilians, killing children and adults in their homes. Here are brief reports
on these two anti-war meetings.
Los Angeles: A question gets a response
It would have been a typical Friday evening in the city of Los Angeles at the
busy intersection of Vermont Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard last week except for
about 10 protesters holding a well-observed and well-received street
Participants in the protest were members of the Al-Awda Coalition, the United
Teachers of Los Angeles, the SEIU Labor-Community Coalition and the
International Action Center/Bail Out the People Movement.
This metro station daily serves hundreds of thousands of a very multinational
and working-class ridership. Commuters on their way home, to the next shift or
to other appointments at first avoided getting a leaflet or making eye
But then a banner was put up reading, “Money for jobs, not war in
Afghanistan,” while a speaker asked a question of the commuters:
“Why is the government spending $100 billion to bomb and kill children in
Afghanistan, like those 12 Afghan children killed last week, when that money
could have produced 3 million jobs here in California — a state where one
out of every five people is either unemployed or underemployed?”
Many then began asking for leaflets and to be informed about the next meeting.
Not one leaflet was seen discarded on the sidewalks or at the entrance to the
metro station following the conclusion of the street meeting.
NYC: Putting two and two together
New York City
WW photo: John Catalinotto
It was more than a protest. It was an educational street meeting that showed
how the vast Pentagon budget and U.S. corporate exploitation of workers abroad
is intimately connected with the dire economic situation at home. The nods
coming from many in the dense crowds of workers and shoppers passing by on
Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street showed they understood. Some
stopped, exchanged views and signed up to take part in future meetings.
New York City has always been made up of many nationalities. The tabloids
— and the “moderate” media, too — try to tear down
unity among the workers that could threaten the city’s control by bankers
and billionaires like Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The street meeting, in English
and Spanish, was a direct challenge to this racism and xenophobia.
Students talked about how young people face grim choices — poverty, the
military or jail — as jobs disappear and education is cut back. They
assailed the planned closing of 19 public schools and the raising of tuition in
the once-free City University of New York system. They called for taking the
bailout money and the Pentagon budget and spending it on education and a real
Workers World Party, the Troops Out Now Coalition, the International Action
Center and the Campus Anti-War Network were among the groups
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