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Milwaukee Anti-War Committee rallies against the Milwaukee Air & Water Show

By staff

Anti-war protest at Milwaukee Air Show.

Milwaukee, WI – On Saturday, July 22, activists and community members united at The Calling sculpture in downtown Milwaukee to protest the annual Milwaukee Air & Water Show. The rally was organized by the Milwaukee Anti-War Committee (MAC) to demonstrate that the show is not a harmless family event as it is often portrayed, but a celebration of U.S. militarism and a polarizing affair for the city.

Members from Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (MAARPR), and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) came together with the community to demand an end to the display of U.S. militarism and to protect the local skies from rampant pollution.

Before the event began, the president of the Milwaukee Air & Water Show, Paul Rodgers, arrived to interrogate the protesters in attendance. When asked how much the event costs to put on, he did not respond. He did, however, admit that it is “an event to inspire the youth to join the military.” Protesters condemned his comment, expressing that those in the military are sent abroad to kill for imperialist interests, not to “defend freedom.”

The protest officially opened with chants and a statement from Remi Schueler, a member of the Milwaukee Anti-War Committee, who stated, “We are here today to show that the Milwaukee Air & Water Show is not popular with the people of Milwaukee, that it is a tool of imperialist propaganda, a threat to our air and water quality, and a triggering event for many of us who suffer from PTSD.”

Aurelia Ceja, co-chair of the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, discussed the impression of the U.S. military presence abroad. “We at the Alliance recognize that U.S.-waged wars are always to further U.S. political interests, at the dire costs of innocent civilians in other countries. We export the terrors of war off our own shore, but celebrate the military with ridiculous displays like today while those same soldiers commit atrocities overseas,” Ceja said.

Ryan Hamann from Freedom Road Socialist Organization Wisconsin examined the relationship between harmful emissions and the U.S. military’s role in climate change.

“While it’s true that something like 100 companies are responsible for nearly 70% of global emissions, what’s equally true is that out of any single polluter, the U.S. military as a whole ranks as the worst out of all of them,” he said. “Since the start of the so-called ‘War on Terror’, the military has produced more than 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gasses – this is more than entire countries like Portugal and Denmark.”

Patricia Fish, a member of SDS UW-Milwaukee, tied together the recent history of anti-war work with student activism and the endless war perpetuated by the U.S.

“Every conflict the U.S. inserts itself into ends in bloodshed and misery as the intentions of the American government and military stems from greed. More money, more land, more resources, more labor, more power. SDS affirms that as students in the heart of a global empire, fighting back against U.S. military aggression must remain at the core of our organization,” Fish said.

The final speaker was Stephanie Spalatin, another member of the Milwaukee Anti-War Committee. She recounted the ruthless NATO-led bombing of Serbia in 1999, where her relatives live, and how the planes in the air show are a direct representation of the suffering caused internationally by imperialist aggression.

“Every day and night, as the air raid sirens go off and these airborne weapons of mass destruction are deployed in U.S and NATO-led bombing campaigns, people just like you and me live in constant fear that one of these planes will drop the bomb that murders their mother, their father, their brother, their sister, their husband, their wife, their closest friend, their pet, their child,” Spalatin said. “These military planes have led airstrikes that have murdered over thousands of civilians not only in Serbia but in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Palestinians in Israel, Libya, and many others.”

The event ended with a banner drop on the Reiman Pedestrian Bridge over the Lincoln Memorial Drive, in clear view of the traffic headed towards the Milwaukee Air & Water Show.

#MilwaukeeWI #AntiwarMovement