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Minnesotans take to the streets to say stop U.S. wars!

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
March 24, 2015
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 Minneapolis march on 12th anniversary of U.S. war on  Iraq start.
Minneapolis march on 12th anniversary of U.S. war on Iraq start. (Fight Back! News/Kim Defranco)

Minneapolis, MN – Around 200 protesters took to the streets here, March 21, to mark the 12th anniversary of the start of the U.S. war on Iraq. The protest called for an end to U.S. military intervention in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere and coincided with national anti-war actions, including an anti-war protest in Washington, DC at the White House on the same day.

The protest began at the busy intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis with protesters holding signs saying “Stop bombing Iraq and Syria,” “No new wars for the 1%,” and “Hands off Ukraine, Venezuela and everywhere.” After a short rally they marched on Lake Street, one of the busiest streets in Minneapolis, to Walker Church.

The U.S. is very much at war in Iraq again, and the war has extended to Syria. March 2015 marks 12 years since the start of the U.S. war in Iraq. Now, the U.S. is again at war in Iraq and the war is expanding into Syria. The Obama administration has requested a new Authorization for Use of Military Force from Congress, which will give a legal cover to more years of endless war. Reuters news service reported March 18 that a Pentagon report states that as of March 12, the U.S. military has flown 2320 air strikes since Aug. 8 at a cost of $1.83 billion, hitting thousands of targets. The new military intervention costs an average of about $8.5 million daily according to Reuters.

Loretta Van Pelt, a leader in the Welfare Rights Committee, spoke out at the opening rally. She explained, “The resources that are used to fight whoever and whatever could best be used to help low income people, more affordable housing, a living wage, the list goes on. They wonder why 50% of public school kids live in poverty, wonder why people still have a hard time finding a job even though the economy supposedly improved and the unemployment rate is going down. War is obviously not the answer, which is why we are here today! We need to keep rallying for peace, stop all wars and stop U.S. aggression!”

Sabry Wazwaz, a Palestinian American activist with the Anti-War Committee, spoke at Walker Church, “The U.S. government spends trillions of dollars on wars, invading other countries leaving over a million deaths of innocent civilians just for their own personal interests. Instead it should fix inner cities across the U.S. Instead of closing so many schools down in inner cities they should invest money into them and fix them. The U.S. should help its own citizens as millions of homeless sleep under bridges including thousands of vets themselves, build more care centers to help the mentally ill, and fix up the city of Detroit instead of sending billions to Israel.”

Speakers also condemned U.S. intervention in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Joe Callahan, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Cuba Committee and a long time Latin America solidarity activist, addressed the crowd at the opening rally about the Obama’s recent actions against Venezuela, “On the other hand, here in the hemisphere, the U.S. has stepped up hostility toward Venezuela, they have declared sanctions against Venezuela and ominously proclaimed that Venezuela represents ‘an extraordinary threat to U.S. national security.’ Venezuelan leaders have sounded the alarm about U.S. organized coup plots, arresting the mayor of Caracas and expelling some U.S. embassy personnel. Food distributors are holding back food, and the right wing blames shortages on the government. It’s a very tense and dangerous situation. We need to stand together with Venezuela against U.S. intervention. Hands off Venezuela!”

The protest was organized by the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition. It was endorsed by AFSCME Local 3800, Alliant Action, Anti-War Committee, Committee for Palestinian Rights, Community of St. Martin, Every Church a Peace Church, Faith Mennonite Church, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Grandmothers for Peace, Marxist Student Federation, Mayday Books, Military Families Speak Out (MN chapter), Minneapolis Green Party, Peace and Justice Committee of Sacred Heart Catholic Church (St. Paul), St. Frances Cabrini Justice and Peace Committee, Socialist Action, Students for a Democratic Society (UMN), St. Joan of Arc/WAMM Peacemakers, St. Paul Eastside Neighbors for Peace, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Veterans for Peace, Welfare Rights Committee, Women Against Military Madness, and Workers International League.

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