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Chicago protests war on Afghanistan

By staff

Malik Mujahid of Muslim Peace Coalition, and Ron Schupp of CAPR.

Chicago, IL – Protesters here marched to the headquarters of Boeing Corporation on Oct. 7 to mark the 11th anniversary of the war on Afghanistan. Over 100 people joined the protest to demand that the U.S. end the war now.

Malik Mujahid of the Muslim Peace Coalition spoke of the senseless bloodshed in Afghanistan, and about how the war is spreading across the border into his homeland, Pakistan. “Is the U.S. strategy winning?” he asked, which brought forth a chorus of “No!” from the crowd gathered in the plaza in front of the Tribune Tower, offices of the Chicago Tribune. The coalition chose this location for the start of the protest to criticize the mainstream media for ignoring the Afghan War in this election season.

Hatem Abudayyeh, one of the 23 Midwest activists facing grand jury investigation, reminded the protesters that the Palestinian community and its supporters are being threatened with repression “To justify and build support for a failed U.S. foreign policy and to build support for unlimited U.S. aid to Israel, our government needs to put a local face on the enemy abroad, and today that face is Palestinian and Arab and Muslim. And they're attempting to even criminalize the broader anti-war movement as well.”

Xian Barrett, a member of the bargaining committee of the Chicago Teachers Union, told of their recent strike. “We need money for our schools, not for war,” he explained. The need in the Chicago Public Schools is desperate, so much so that when the teachers were forced to walk the picket lines last month, “The children and their parents said, ‘Thank you for standing up for us.’”

Drone warfare: new U.S. military favorite

Members of Occupy Chicago organized a die-in with mock drones in the square. More than dozen people fell to the ground, portraying the casualties in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The action prepared people for the one and a half mile march to the headquarters of Boeing Corporation. The march raised chants like, “Boeing – shame on you! Children die because of you.”

As Pat Hunt of Chicago Area Peace Action would explain later, “We are here because Boeing is the second largest weapons manufacturer in the country, and while they don’t build the drones that are best known, their spy drones help the killing.” Hunt was referring to the General Atomics Reaper and Predator drones. Boeing’s subsidiary, Insitu, does make drones that deliver bombs, but they are not that popular with the U.S. military.

Obama headquarters, then Boeing

The marchers first stopped at the national headquarters of President Obama’s re-election campaign. In the anti-war movement, there is indignation toward Obama for continuing and intensifying the war in Afghanistan, launching the war on Libya, and threatening and intervening in Syria and Iran. In addition, while George W. Bush used drone strikes only 52 times in eight years, Obama has ordered 294. Some estimates place the total number of drone strikes even higher.

Chants intensified as they approached the Prudential Building where the campaign is housed, “Hey, Obama, We say no. The war in Afghanistan has got to go!” Kait McIntyre of Students for a Democratic Society delivered a statement of the march demands, including an end to the war in Afghanistan; No new wars, whether Syria, Iran, or the undeclared drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia; Money for jobs, education and health care, not for war; and an end to FBI repression of anti-war activists.

The spirited march chanted all the way to the Chicago River on the west side of the Loop, Chicago’s downtown. Facing the large Boeing sign, Said Khan of the Pakistan Federation of America, read a message of support to the Pakistani and US marchers in Pakistan who were attempting to march to North Waziristan, the province that has been the target of most of the 300 or more drone strikes in Pakistan.

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