Hundreds join Minneapolis protest to mark 10 years of U.S. war in Afghanistan
Minneapolis, MN – More than 500 people marched here, Oct. 15, to mark the tenth year of the U.S. war in Afghanistan with a call for an end to the occupation and for U.S. troops to be brought home now.
The event was organized under the slogan of “Bring the Troops & War Dollars Home Now – Get Out of Afghanistan!” The Minnesota Peace Action Coalition (MPAC) initiated planning for the event.
Activists participating in OccupyMN in downtown Minneapolis issued a leaflet urging occupiers to join the Oct. 15 anti-war protest. The leaflet, headlined, “Hop on the Peace Train,” urged participants to gather and take the light rail train to join the rally and march. Around 100 people from the OccupyMN joined the anti-war protest.
After rallying near the busy intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue, the crowd marched on Lake Street before turning to go to South High School for a closing rally in the auditorium.
A statement issued by MPAC says, in part, “We call for an end to the U.S. war in Afghanistan which has now been going on for ten years; the longest war in U.S. history. The conflict has taken the lives of thousands of Afghan civilians and over 1700 U.S. military personnel and has cost hundreds of billions in U.S. tax dollars. It is estimated that it costs $1 million a year to keep one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.”
Anti-war actions had been planned in cities across the U.S. this weekend to mark the milestone anniversary and to call for an end to the war. The call for the Oct. 15 local anti-war actions was initiated by the United National Antiwar Committee and other organizations.
The MPAC statement goes on to say, “Polls show that most Afghans want the U.S. to leave – and most Americans agree. Billions of dollars go to the war in Afghanistan while millions of people in the U.S. are unemployed and losing their housing.”
A range of speakers addressed the anti-war protest, including Wayne Wittman, representing the Minnesota State AFL-CIO.
Meredith Aby, of the Anti-War Committee urged crowd to join the massive protests scheduled for the G8/NATO summit, stating “While President Bush started the war in Afghanistan, President Obama has escalated it. He has sent in more troops and has expanded the conflict to Pakistan. Both Bush and Obama have repeatedly used the cover of multi-lateralism and international support as justifications for the war. In reality though, NATO is used as a fig leaf. This is a U.S. led military intervention and occupation.”
Aby continued, “Normally Minnesotans have to drive 24 hours to get to D.C. to say no to the warmakers in person. However, this May we will only have to drive seven. NATO and the G8 are holding a joint summit which highlights that U.S. military policy is an extension of U.S. economic policy. We have the opportunity to go to Chicago to say no to the warmakers in person while they are in the Midwest and I hope you'll come with us to demand an end to the war on Afghanistan!”
Cherrene Horazuk, the chief steward of AFSCME Local 3800, one of the day’s many endorsing organizations, said, “It is always the sons and daughters of working people who are sent off to kill and be killed in wars that do not represent the interests of themselves or their families. These wars are not fought to stop terrorism, or for democracy but in the interests of the large corporations who rely on U.S. military power around the world to maintain their interests.”
Other groups supporting the Oct. 15 action included Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Women Against Military Madness, Anti-War Committee, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Freedom Road Socialist Organization and many others.