Tampa, FL - At the University of South Florida, Oct. 8, about 30 students gathered outside of Cooper Hall to protest on the 11th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. Six speakers from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) spoke to the crowd about the impact this war has had on the students across the United States, and on the targets of U.S. wars abroad. After the protesters listened to the speeches made by the students and various community members, they marched to the C.W. Bill Young Building, which houses the ROTC program on campus. The building is named after Congressman Bill Young, whose anti-worker and anti-student policies sent many young people from poor communities to fight wars for members of the 1% - such as him.
Walt Byars, a member of SDS, thought that the protest went over well with the students who stopped to take it all in, stating “Our demonstration let students know that there are people on campus dedicated to constant struggle against oppression. It’s up to us to build on these impressions and show the student body what dedicated activists can achieve.”
Many of the activists who gave speeches also used the platform to celebrate the continuing power of the people in Venezuela, after the re-election the night before of Hugo Chavez. There is indeed reason to celebrate. Despite the conditions caused by the war, countries like Venezuela determine their own destinies in the face of open attacks on their democracies and ways of life by the U.S.
Matt Hastings, a senior at USF, pointed out that democratic rights are under attack at home, with the FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas of 23 anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists just two years ago. Hastings stated that the government, “does not want us to organize against war and they do not want us to challenge imperialism, because it challenges the foundation that they have built their power on. We must be on the side of the oppressed or we are only working on the side of the oppressors.”