Week of antiwar protests launched MLK Day weekend

Jan. 16, 2023 — The antiwar actions scheduled Jan. 13-23, in at least 50 U.S. cities, come as another escalation is threatened in the U.S.-NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. 

Seventh Avenue, New York City, Jan. 14, 2023. (John Catalinotto)

Reflecting NATO’s escalation, the Danish newspaper, The Worker, reported last week that the U.S. was poised to unload tanks at the Aarhus port to drive overland to Ukraine. German imperialism was about to send its own tanks to the reactionary Kiev regime. In both countries antiwar groups plan protests.

The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) scheduled its call to action to coincide with the Jan. 16 holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At many rallies, organizers recalled or played King’s April 1967 speech, when the Civil Rights leader castigated the U.S. war against Vietnam. 

Reports to Workers World, in order received by Jan. 16, include: 

No to NATO in New York City, Times Square, Jan. 14. Hundreds joined the rally called by Answer. Setting the political tone for the participants, Sara Flounders of UNAC — who is a contributing editor to Workers World — slammed NATO’s role as a U.S.-led force for oppression of peoples and nations around the world. (Hear her talk at: youtu.be/BL2rSDjCI_U) 

Times Square, New York City, Jan. 14, 2023. (Brenda Ryan

Following an hour of education and agitation, the crowd marched and rolled downtown on Seventh Ave. to bring the message to others in Manhattan. While the original call emphasized a demand for negotiations, many of the signs held by participants had the slogan, “No to NATO!”

Boston Common, Park Street Station, Jan. 14. Antiwar activists gathered in a sleeting rain for a rally and speak-out near the newly unveiled bronze statue: “The Embrace,” dedicated to King and his spouse, Coretta Scott King — who had met in Boston in the 1950s. The statue’s “Freedom Plaza” base pays homage to 65 additional civil rights leaders. The activists recommitted to strengthening the U.S. workers’ struggle against the evils of poverty, racism and militarism — as Dr. King taught.

Boston union activists join antiwar action, Jan. 14, 2023. (Maureen Skehan)

Chanting “Money for jobs and education, not for war and nuclear conflagration!” “Cuba sí, bloqueo no!” and “No war but class war!” trade unionists, immigrants, LGBTQ+ and disability rights activists, veterans, socialists and youth coalesced with a chorus of demands — including “Defund the Pentagon, Abolish NATO” and “Fund Human Needs, Not U.S.-NATO Wars!” 

Indigenous prayer offerings were made, and the Black National Anthem was sung.

Workers World Party youth leaders shared news from the Venceremos Brigade’s recent 51st trip to Cuba. Mairead Skehan Gillis said, “We need to fight for our own revolution here. We saw how beautiful socialism can be.”

Wil Hodgkinson spoke on the growing imperialist war danger and threats against China. He was cheered when he concluded, “People are saying no to endless war! Down with the U.S. empire! No to imperialism and yes to peace!” 

San Francisco, downtown. Jan. 14. Demonstrators ignored the threat of heavy rain to protest the U.S./NATO-provoked war in Ukraine and to demand “No expansion of NATO.” Several speakers, including Mike Wong of Veterans for Peace, warned about U.S. military plans to provoke wars against both Russia and China. The theme of the Answer-led demonstration was “Negotiations Now — Peace in the Ukraine — No NATO Expansion.” 

San Francisco, Jan. 14, 2023. (Answer – Bay Area)

Several speakers, including Judy Greenspan of Workers World Party, sharpened the demands to include ending U.S. militarism, occupation and threats against Russia, China, Palestine, Haiti and Cuba. Greenspan and several speakers condemned the U.S.-imposed sanctions against one-third of the world. 

West Harlem, New York City, Jan. 13. People filled St. Mary’s Episcopal Church for a discussion opening the joint antiwar activities. Presentations by the Rev. Annie Chambers, co-chair of the National Welfare Rights Union; Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report executive editor; and Omowale Clay, December 12 Movement, showed the relationship between the battle against white supremacy at home and against imperialist war abroad. Kimberley called NATO “an illegitimate structure in service of imperialism.”

John Parker, Socialist Unity Party, California U.S. Senate Candidate, who recently traveled to Donbass, and Melinda Butterfield, Struggle-La Lucha co-editor and author of “U.S. Proxy War in Ukraine & Donbass,” revealed how Ukraine’s Kiev regime, placed in power by a U.S.-manipulated coup, waged war on the people of Ukraine’s southeastern Donbass region for eight years before Russia had intervened. 

Representatives of many organizations, including Richie Merino from UNAC, made short solidarity statements before the meeting ended.

Seattle, MLK Day Jan. 16. At the 40th annual MLK Jr. march, many people carried antiwar signs and banners, chanting “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation.” After the march, some people attended the grand reopening of Seattle’s Northwest African American Museum.

Seattle, Jan. 16, 2023. 40th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Day march (Jim McMahan)

Contributors: Maureen Skehan, Judy Greenspan, and Jim McMahan.

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