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Minneapolis builds solidarity with Iraq’s mass movement against U.S. occupation

By Wyatt Miller |
January 26, 2020
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Twin Cites protest against a U.S. war on Iran
Twin Cites protest against a U.S. war on Iran (Photo by Meredith Aby-Keirstead

Minneapolis, MN - On January 25, around 150 anti-war activists and members of working class and community groups united to protest the U.S. military in Iraq and threats of war against Iran. Part of a global day of protest, the action came two days after millions of Iraqis overcame political disunity to fill the streets of Baghdad and demand an end to 17 years of U.S. occupation.

The Minneapolis event was held in front of the K-Mart at the busy Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue intersection. Protesters chanted, gave speeches, held banners and brought their message of peace and anti-imperialist solidarity to thousands of neighborhood passersby.

Dakota academic Chris Mato Nunpa led the speakers with a land acknowledgment, saying, “I welcome you to Dakota homelands, and I have to add this negative note: we are on stolen Dakota homelands. We have not been paid for this land.”

He explained, “My people, the Dakota people, are well aware of the history, and we’ve gotten to know the imperialism and the warlike nature of the United States of America. Our Native peoples, our indigenous peoples, our First Nations peoples, fought for four centuries against the Western Europeans who eventually became the U.S. Euro-Americans, and against the United States, to keep them from stealing our lands.”

A letter from longtime Twin Cities resident Sami Rasouli, an Iraqi American organizer with the Muslim Peace Makers Team who is currently living in Najaf, Iraq, was read to the protesters. The letter read in part, “The U.S. administration is continuing its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign to pressure the Iranian regime, which is by its nature an escalatory policy. As evidenced by all of the provocative measures Tehran has taken since the United States withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal, maximum pressure is bringing the United States closer to another war in the Middle East and has certainly done nothing to make the negotiations more likely.

Rasouli’s letter continued, “To be honest, more stress puts us one accident away from total conflict. The presence of American forces – seen as potential targets by anti-American actors, including Iran’s agents – makes this scenario more likely. The United States should abandon these risks and exit Iraq. War with Iran will be disastrous.”

Workers against U.S. wars

The latest round of war threats began with the January 3 assassination of Iranian anti-imperialist hero Qassem Soleimani by a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, which was met with widespread condemnation around the world. In Minnesota, one organization to denounce war with Iran was AFSCME Local 2822, which represents hundreds of Hennepin County workers. Soon after the assassination, while politicians were beating the drums of war, the union local unanimously passed a Resolution of International Solidarity against Wars of Aggression.

“They tell you that ‘politics stops at the water’s edge.’ What the hell does that mean?” AFSCME Local 2822 co-chief steward Shane Clune said to the protesters. “We know that their war doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. Their war knows no bounds. Their ‘war on terror’ is used not just as an excuse to terrorize people in other countries, but to terrorize our communities in this city.”

Clune continued, “The good news is even though their war knows no bounds, our solidarity knows no bounds either. Because we recognize that the worker in America has more in common with the worker in China, or in Cuba, or in Venezuela, or in Iran or Iraq, than we do with any American capitalist.”

Daphne Brown of Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar connected working-class internationalism to the struggle against police crimes. “We must keep fighting against U.S. wars,” she said. “This is the time when people all over the country, all over the world, are standing together to fight for us. As working people, as family, we need protection, and as we see, the police are not protecting us. Our governments and politicians are not protecting us. It will be the workers protecting the workers.”

Brown led protesters in a chant of “No more war crimes! No more police crimes!”

The action was organized by the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, and endorsed by the Anti-War Committee, Women Against Military Madness, the National Iranian American Council (MN), as well as several socialist organizations and community peace groups.