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Minnesotans protest war spending on Tax Day

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
April 17, 2023
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Twin Cities protest demand funding for human needs, not wars on Tax Day.
Twin Cities protest demand funding for human needs, not wars on Tax Day. (Fight Back! News/Meredith Aby-Keirstead

Minneapolis, MN - On April 15, 70 protesters gathered in the cold spring rain to protest the U.S. federal government’s use of their tax dollars to fund war instead of programs that would benefit people like education, environmental protection and healthcare. The protest was initiated by the MN Peace Action Coalition. 

Sarah Martin, a longtime member of Women Against Military Madness, was one of the protest emcees and started off the protest explaining the sizable Pentagon budget, “It is very important that we’re here to send an anti-war message on Tax Day. This past year the Pentagon and the U.S. military spent $858 billion. This exceeded that of the next ten countries combined! The U.S. is only 5% of the world’s population but pays 50% of total military spending. The U.S. along with NATO has 1000 bases around the world. Added to that is the $130 billion sent to Ukraine to wage that disastrous proxy war.” 

Martin also called out U.S. aid to Israel, “And of course we need to mention the $4 billion we give in military aid to Israel, which we saw most recently used to beat up and tear gas worshippers in Al-Aqsa during Ramadan as well as the brazen obscene march through occupied territories by settlers and Israel politicians to retake an outpost. But yesterday, on Al Quds Day, all over the world, and of course in Palestine, huge crowds protested Israel’s ongoing occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”

Montana Hirsch gave a passionate speech about her recent experience at the U.S.-Mexico border. Hirsch was a part of the Legalization for All border delegation and traveled as a member of the Minnesota Immigrant Right Action Committee, saying, “It is clear that our government would rather let people - families and children - who are fleeing desperate situations die rather than cross the border in hope of a better life.

Hirsch continued, “All of this is what our country is funding, what Minnesota is funding, this deportation machine, this horrific militarization at the border, using funds from taxpayer money - our money! These are funds that could be instead used for human needs like housing, healthcare and fully funding public education right here, and instead they are being used to keep our border militarized and deadly.” 

Sarah Murphy, a member of the MN Abortion Action Committee (MNAAC), spoke to the crowd about how healthcare, which includes the right to an abortion, is a human right and should be funded by tax dollars instead of war: “The United States government continuously uses taxpayer dollars to violate the most basic human rights of people around the world. The Christian right talks about ‘the right to life’ only when it applies to unborn fetuses. They are more than willing to destroy the lives of living, breathing people, both in America and abroad, when it benefits them.” She then invited the crowd to join MNAAC at Senator Klobuchar’s office later that day to protest to protect the right to a medical abortion. 

Other speakers included members from the War Tax Resisters, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, the Climate Justice Committee and MN Workers United. 

Drake Myers, a member of the MN Anti-War Committee who recently went on a delegation to Venezuela, closed out the rally addressing how the U.S. uses economic sanctions as an act of war, “You all know Venezuela is under a U.S.-led blockade, right? It’s estimated more than 100,000 excess deaths in Venezuela are due to U.S. sanctions; they didn’t even lift the blockade during COVID so the U.S. basically used COVID as a bioweapon in Venezuela. Think about that. They blocked medicine, so they made it into a weapon and people died.”

Myers also addressed the case of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, who is currently being held in a U.S. prison in Miami, “Alex Saab is a diplomat for Venezuela who worked to make deals to get food and medicine to the poor. Do you know what the U.S. government did to this man who is a hero? They kidnapped him. While he was in Africa. They tortured him, knocked his teeth out even. He’s a diabetic with stomach cancer and he’s vomiting blood now. They won’t let him see a doctor or his family. This is a diplomat who’s a hero for bringing food past a blockade! That’s what he was doing when they kidnapped him. It’s against international law to kidnap a diplomat. It’s unprecedented in history. But the U.S. wants to be able to declare any country’s government illegitimate and arrest their diplomats.” They ended the rally with the crowd chanting “Free Alex Saab!”

Multiple speakers encouraged the crowd to march on May 1 to demand immigrant rights, worker rights and environmental justice for the East Phillips neighborhood. The protest will start at 4 p.m. at the MPS Adult Education Center, 2015 E Lake Street in Minneapolis, with a march to the Roof Depot site in East Phillips.