Bronx, New York, March 26
Today Bronx residents rallied in the Mott Haven/Melrose neighborhood in the South Bronx. Their goal was reviving the movement to shut down police and military recruiters in poor and working-class high schools and to call for a reallocation of the $750 billion U.S. war budget to fully fund public schools, jobs, universal health care, citizenship and housing for all.
This was the inaugural rally of the “Bronx Anti-War Coalition.” Speakers included community activists from La Peña del Bronx, The Ghetto Brothers and About Face, and Puerto Rican antiwar poet Mariposa María Teresa Fernández.
According to organizers, the coalition was formed in the heart of the South Bronx to revive the workers movement to remove military and police recruiters from poor and working-class high schools. The South Bronx is home to some of the most oppressed people in the country. In 2019, the South Bronx was composed of 97% nonwhite households, with a median income of $25,500. About 40% of families in Mott Haven/Melrose are living in poverty. (See furmancenter.org for neighborhood statistics.)
Organizers say the New York Police Department has served as a domestic occupying force committing violence against this majority Black and Latinx immigrant community for decades. Speakers at the rally sought to draw connections between the NYPD and the U.S. military as tools of white-supremacist and imperialist domination.
Speeches discussed how military recruiters specifically target and prey upon the most oppressed and disadvantaged youth, luring students with the fewest opportunities into fighting imperialist wars on behalf of Wall Street. Poor and working-class youth are deceived by false promises of easy money, “adventure” and an “escape” from the downtrodden lives they currently live.
According to the groups involved, there exists a school-to-military pipeline the same way there’s a school-to-prison pipeline — and both prey on the poor. The warmongers running the U.S. government continue to deny workers free college, universal health care and a homes guarantee, because it would destroy military recruiting and the military-industrial complex — and that’s exactly why principled anti-imperialists should agitate for these popular programs now more than ever.
The new coalition says: “Police and military recruiters out of our schools! We will no longer be used as tools for imperialist aggression! We will no longer be used to fight and kill working people like ourselves! Money for jobs, not for war!”