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Hundreds protest at Democratic debates

By Daniel Williams |
February 14, 2016
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Protesters at Democratic National Debate in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee, WI - About 500 protesters rallied, Feb. 11, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Zelazo Center, where the Democratic National Debate taking place. The Milwaukee Antiwar Committee (AWC) along with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), the Student Union Movement (SUM) and United Workers Organization (UWO) marched through the streets demanding “No more deportations!” “No more wars!” and “Black lives matter!”

Tracy Pollock, of the Milwaukee Antiwar Committee, stated “Drones and bombs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq. Weapons for extremists in Ukraine, Libya and Syria. These are all things that have actually increased under the last president and now is the time to let the Democrats know we reject their imperialist policies,”

Chanting, “United we stand, divided we fall, an injury to one is an injury to all!” the protesters joined with the Fight for 15 who were also rallying outside the debate. Fast-food workers, community members and union staffers mobilized around the Democratic National Debate demanding that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour, a policy supported by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

“I want to give a shout out to the brothers and sisters in the Fight for $15 movement who are demanding an increase to a $15 an hour wage and respect on the job for all workers,” Pollock continued. “Because when we say economic justice we know that workers not only deserve this, but in fact it’s necessary for survival. Just as we know that the workers in Palestine deserve the right to go to their jobs without the threat of getting shot dead by the Israeli Defense forces. And workers in Pakistan have the right to go to their jobs without the fear of being killed by a drone sent by the U.S. imperialists.”

Many in the crowd were not happy with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's record on foreign policy and carried signs such reading “Hillary for prison!” and “Bourgeois feminist.”

“Hillary ain’t no feminist,” said Pollock. “Because what kind of feminist wants to increase aid to apartheid Israel whose genocidal policies against the Palestinian people wouldn’t be possible without funding from the U.S.?”

With the University of Wisconsin system facing a $250 million budget cut, many students from the campus came out to voice their concerns about higher education. “It's completely unjust that a generation of students are burdened with debt due to an exploitative educational system, and that they have to work for decades just to break even,” said Evan Elkins of SDS. “The alternative to being burdened with debt is being unemployed, or living in poverty. These students deserve loan forgiveness from these predatory financial institutions so that they can have economic freedom, and it is an issue neither candidate is talking about.”

After roasting Republican lawmakers, Daniel Ginsberg of the United Workers Organization stated, “In fighting for the working class we need to keep pressure on both political parties. There's a lot that the Democrats aren't talking about in there that we're discussing here.”

Protesters then marched through the student union chanting “The people united will never be defeated!” and “When they say cut back we say fight back!”

“Electing a progressive president can only do so much,” said Jorge Maya of Youth Empowered in the Struggle. “Bigger than that is the labor movement and the immigrant rights movement and the Black lives matter movement. Because we know that the people are the ones that make change, not the politicians.”

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