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Grand Rapids May Day: Protest NATO war in Afghanistan

By Tom Burke

Grand Rapids, MI – Anti-war activists held a May Day rally against the U.S.-led NATO war in Afghanistan. Twenty protesters gathered near the Union Soldier monument downtown chanting “No to NATO, end the war now!” Everyone held signs, “No to NATO, bring the troops home now!” or “End the U.S. war in Afghanistan, no to NATO!”

Passersby readily took leaflets from local United National Anti-war Coalition organizers that said, “The U.S. government spends billions every month on the war in Afghanistan and the military alliance called NATO. At the same time, across the country people are struggling to keep their heads above water. We are feeling the effects of the economic crisis caused by the 1% – the bankers of Wall Street and their political parties. Our communities fight to stay in their homes, keep schools open, make healthcare available and defend our jobs from cutbacks. Now NATO is coming to meet in Chicago, invited by President Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The bankers of the G8 were supposed to meet there too until they saw so many people were going to protest.”

“In Chicago on May 20, we will march against the war and poverty agenda of the NATO meeting with our message: ‘Jobs, Housing, Healthcare, Education, Pensions, and the Environment: Not War!’ Thousands, including Grand Rapidians, will be in Chicago for a family-friendly march and rally, to be seen and heard around the world.”

At the end of the rally, an organizer spoke, “We oppose the U.S.-led NATO wars in the Middle East. In particular we call for an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan. We plan to march against the NATO war-makers in Chicago with thousands of anti-war protesters, Reverend Jesse Jackson, unions, students and Iraq Vets Against War, on Sunday, May 20.”

Longtime local anti-war activist Mike Kowalski, a member of United National Anti-war Coalition (UNAC), organized the action because, “This May Day, we are sending a message of solidarity to workers around the world that the people in the U.S. want immediate and full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. We say, ‘U.S. and NATO out now!’”

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