Confronting a barrage of pro-war propaganda, anti-war groups, low-wage workers and community activists are beginning to mobilize against U.S. war moves in Ukraine, while continuing to rally against Washington’s efforts to destabilize Venezuela’s Bolivarian government.
The International Action Center called for anti-war actions across the U.S. in mid-March, including protests, speakouts, street corner leafleting and visits to congressional offices. Actions were planned in at least 17 cities.
While modest in size, the events held so far have all found people eager to get information and hear a different perspective from the bipartisan war fever dominating the airwaves and editorial pages — from a “Truth Table” set up by activists in Philadelphia’s Center City to a rally at Baltimore’s McKeldin Square and a vigil on the steps of the Federal Building in Lincoln, Neb.
It comes as no surprise, then, that a national survey by the Pew Research Center found that 59 percent of people polled said it is more important for the U.S. to not get involved in the situation with Russia and Ukraine than to “take a firm stand” against Russia. Clearly, the working class is wary of the endless barrage of lies for war, no matter which party is in the White House.
‘CNN lies, people die’
In New York City, 75 people joined a militant rush-hour protest outside CNN’s offices at Columbus Circle on March 14. Picketing outside the opulent Time Warner Center, protesters chanted, “CNN lies, people die, in Ukraine and Venezuela!” and “[Anderson] Cooper, [Wolf] Blitzer, stop supporting fascists!”
Confirming the anti-war sentiment, hundreds of people took informational flyers and snapped photos, and some even joined in, as protesters marched down Broadway chanting “Money for jobs, not fascist mobs!” and “USA, CIA, hands off Ukraine!”
At a closing rally outside the Fox News studios, Larry Holmes of the People’s Power Assembly said: “We demand to know why CNN and Fox are not talking about the prominent role played by neo-Nazis in this coup d’état in Kiev. Why aren’t they talking about how these fascists are displaying the Confederate flag out of some sick nostalgia for slavery?”
Lourdes Vela, representing the New York Bolivarian movement, said: “In Venezuela, the government is doing everything it can to stop the fascists who are trying to carry out a coup. There are paramilitaries and Colombian mercenaries that have entered the country and are trying to infiltrate into all corners. They are doing this because they have lost power.”
And Bill Dores of the International Action Center declared, “We stand with the anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine and for the right of people in Crimea to have a referendum.”
John McCain, war criminal
Former presidential candidate and Republican senator from Arizona John McCain has taken a leading role in promoting regime change abroad by fascist movements. Most recently, he called on the Obama administration to send weapons to the coup government in Kiev.
Chanting “No more John McCain! U.S. out of Ukraine!” 25 people marched on the senator’s offices in Tucson, Ariz., on March 14, and read out a People’s Indictment charging McCain with three counts of “material support for terrorists” based on his support of reactionary movements in Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria. An enlarged copy of the indictment was taped to the door.
Local immigrant rights leader Isabel Garcia denounced McCain’s role in calling for war, the refusal of the U.S. government to respect election results in El Salvador and Venezuela, and the privatization of Mexico’s oil industry.
Jafe Arnoldski of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization explained how people in Ukraine are fighting back against fascist gangs, forming defense committees under the slogan, “We beat fascism once, we will not let them invade us again.”
Passersby and motorists greeted the march and rally with honks of support and raised fists.
‘Hands off Ukraine, Venezuela & Syria’
Activists in Huntington, W.V., also came out March 14, calling for “U.S. hands off Ukraine! Money for people’s needs, not war!” Many people expressed disgust over the billions of dollars being spent on regime change in Ukraine while the government claims there is no money for jobs, education, housing or food at home.
“The last thing we need is more war,” declared one woman who greeted the rally’s message. “I had family members die in Vietnam and Iraq, and for what reason? There was no reason!”
In Los Angeles, protesters from several organizations and communities overflowed the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard on March 14. In front of a large banner reading “White House, CIA, Pentagon — Hands Off Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria,” they distributed hundreds of flyers countering U.S. media and government lies.
At Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Peace Parade on March 16, the Team Solidarity Sound Truck helped spread the anti-war message while contingents carried signs reading “U.S. imperialism — Hands off Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria.” Frank Neisser of the International Action Center spoke about the U.S. role in supporting fascistic movements to overturn democratically elected governments at the behest of the 1%, while Maureen Skehan of the Women’s Fightback Network connected the war on poor and working people at home with the war moves abroad.
An informational picket was called by Workers World Party in Durham, N.C.’s, Brightleaf Square Historic District on March 14. Protesters called for “Money for unemployment insurance, food stamps and higher wages, not war!” and distributed fact sheets to passersby.
Actions were also held in Buffalo, N.Y.; Houston; and Minneapolis.
Other groups participating in these widespread events included the Anti-War Committee, Arab Americans for Syria, BAYAN USA, Boston Bolivarians, Coalición de Derechos Humanos, the International League of People’s Struggle, Occupy Baltimore, Occupy Tucson, Students for a Democratic Society, the Simón Bolívar Association, Stonewall Warriors, Students for Appalachian Socialism, the Tucson Alliance for Global Justice, the Union of Progressive Iranians, Women Against Military Madness, WV FIST — Fight Imperialism Stand Together, Workers World Party and more.
More actions are scheduled in the coming days in Detroit; Milwaukee; Oakland, Calif.; Rockford, Il.; and San Diego. Visit IACenter.org for details.
Steven Ceci, Frank Neisser, John Parker, Bryan Pfeifer, Betsey Piette, Benji Pyles, Paul Teitelbaum and Dan Van Dandervance contributed to this report. Photos: WW Buffalo Bureau/Buffalo, N.Y.; John Catalinotto/NYC; Bryan G. Pfeifer/Durham, N.C.; Benji Pyles/Huntington, W.Va.; Mike Chickey/Los Angeles.