Occupy DC! Protesters Mark 10th Anniversary Of War In Afghanistan
October 9, 2011 Max J. Rosenthal / Huffington Post & Tony Pugh / McClatchy & Scott Galindez / Reader Supported News
Fueled by days of protests in the nation's capital, including marches on the US Chamber of Commerce and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Occupy DC and "Stop the Machine" movements have planned a weekend of events across the city. Friday night, some of the protesters gathered at church near Dupont Circle to mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the US war in Afghanistan.
WASHINGTON 9OCTOBER 8, 2011) -- Fueled by days of protests in the nation's capital, including marches on the US Chamber of Commerce and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Occupy DC and "Stop the Machine" movements have planned a weekend of events across the city. Friday night, some of the protesters gathered at church near Dupont Circle to mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the US war in Afghanistan.
Sponsored by a long list of anti-war organizations like Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out, the "War Voices" panel at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church prominently featured Afghans sharing their experiences since the American invasion.
Suraia Sahar and Fatima Mojaddidy of Afghans for Peace emotionally recounted the failings of the US-led war effort. Mojaddidy broke into tears as moderator Phyllis Bennis described the deaths of Afghan children who had died picking up American cluster bombs that resembled packages of air-dropped food aid.
Offering an American perspective were Pat Alviso of Military Families Speak Out and Afghanistan veteran Brock McIntosh, who served with the Indiana Army National Guard. McIntosh, seeking status as a conscientious objector, spoke about the routine but difficult moral choices of the war. "They're rare in the real world, but in war these moral dilemmas happen every day and we can't avoid them," he said.
Alviso tearily recounted the trials of her son, a Marine master sergeant approaching his fifth deployment, who she said became disillusioned by what he had seen in Afghanistan. "He shared less and less after every deployment," she said.
"For the first time we're really bring together Afghanistan veterans and Afghanistan civilians on the same stage, and that's powerful in and of itself," said Geoff Willard, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and former combat engineer. Media liasion Michael McPhearson called Afghans for Peace "an important voice that needs to be heard."
On Saturday, protesters, some of whom has been camping overnight in Freedom Plaza, are scheduled to participate in a series of workshops and committee meetings. At a noon rally at Freedom Plaza, political activist Ralph Nader will be a featured speaker.
WASHINGTON (October 7, 2011) -- A sun-soaked noon rally within blocks of the White House brought out hundreds of protesters Thursday to mark the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan War.
About one thousand people gather and form a large "99%" in the middle of Freedom Plaza during an "occupation" of the plaza October 6, 2011 in Washington, DC. Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement that began last month in New York, large and small occupations have sprung up in cities across the country. (Photograph by: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images) On Freedom Square, sign-carrying demonstrators banged drums, sang and cheered a series of fiery speeches by anti-war activists, who decried the federal government's continued funding of the Afghan and Iraqi wars while calling for cuts to social programs for the elderly, poor and people with disabilities.
Planning for the rally began six months ago, but the event's timing dovetailed perfectly with nationwide protests in support of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York. There were similar protests against income inequality and perceived corporate profiteering Thursday in Austin, Texas, Sacramento, Calif., Houston and other cities.
During a morning news conference, President Barack Obama said little about the Afghan War entering its 11th year, but he did give a shout-out to the growing wave of protests.
"I think people are frustrated and, you know, the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works," he said.
That sentiment was shared by a protester who identified herself only as Andrea E., a single mother of two who is facing foreclosure on her home in the Philadelphia area.
She said a divorce and a loss of hours on her waitressing job made it impossible to keep up with her mortgage. Her bank lowered her monthly payments while it considered a loan modification. Ultimately, however, it refused to do so and demanded that she pay the past-due amount, about $4,000.
"I refuse to give them another dime until they modify my mortgage," she said, arguing that she was never late with a payment. After attending the Wall Street rally in New York, Andrea, 34, said she's hoping for a "peaceful revolution" in which corporations - such as her bank - grow hearts.
"I'm sure that's not going to happen anytime soon, but I hope it does," she said. "We need the middle class to be back where it should be and not dwindling away like it is."
Bo Considine, a 60-year-old business analyst from Maryland, took the day off to join the Washington protest. Considine said he was upset that the tax system treated corporate profits more favorably than it did income from labor. And in a reference to the tea party movement, Considine said he was tired of watching the squeaky wheels get all the grease.
"I can't put up with having my voice shouted down anymore and having those people who behave most aggressively and uncompromisingly set and maintain the agenda. I feel like this is the beginning of the silent majority finally saying enough is enough," Considine said.
Civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory spoke at the rally, saying the demonstrators reminded him of the young anti-war protesters in the late 1960s, who were emboldened by the civil rights protests.
"These young people didn't come here with a road map," Gregory said. "They've come here with a feeling in their heart, and nothing's going to stop them. These young folks here are not afraid."
Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, a female anti-war group, said about 75 organizations sponsored the Washington rally, which attracted participants from Texas, Arkansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and even Alaska.
While not intending to capitalize on the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, Benjamin said Thursday's rally shared a common thread with the now-famous New York protest: "Corruption of Wall Street spills over to corruption on K Street," she said.
In a statement Thursday, Chai Ling, who was the commander in chief of the 1989 student democracy movement that organized China's Tiananmen Square uprising, said the youth and passion of America's protesters matched that of the young Chinese who ultimately gave their lives for liberty in China.
"The momentum of this protest is built around a longing for Wall Street and America's leadership to stop focusing on corporate greed and solely on the bottom line," she said. "It is a plea for America to be restored to a moral compass that will guide leaders to care for the poor and seek justice."
WASHINGTON, DC (October 6, 2011) -- Even before Adbusters Magazine put out the call to Occupy Wall Street, the October 2011 coalition was organizing an occupation of their own in Washington called "Stop the Machine!" Unlike the "leaderless" occupation on Wall Street -- because all participants are, in fact, "leaders" -- Stop the Machine! is being organized by veterans of various progressive political movements. The October 2011 coalition includes groups like Veterans for Peace, CodePink, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Progressive Democrats of America and Peace Action.
They have been involved in massive anti-war marches and political rallies dating back to the Vietnam War. They are back this time to establish an open-ended encampment in Washington, DC. Their timing couldn't have been better. They are joining thousands of people around the country who are demanding an end to corporate greed and political indifference.
Protesting against corporate greed is not new to the anti-war movement, they have always made the important connection between wars and corporate interests. This time, however, the usual corporate suspects have over-reached and a critical mass of people is saying, "Enough is enough."
Several hundred people have arrived for Day One of the "Stop the Machine!" encampment. It is a reunion for many involved. I have a feeling though that this time they can almost smell the aroma of change in the air. This time they are not alone ... they are part of something bigger. As I read the other news reports, I shake my head. The mainstream media is treating it like any other protest organized by these veteran organizers, and perhaps the opening rally was too reminiscent of the usual marches. But this time, when the march is over, they will have a general assembly like those happening on Wall Street. This time, the usual protest will culminate in an unusual meeting of "citizen leaders," all ready to stand with those standing up around the country.
What happens after that is anyone's guess.
Reader Supported News will keep a close eye on things and report all the latest developments from Liberty Plaza, Freedom Plaza and around the world. A young woman at a meeting for Occupy Miami said she likes the "smell of protest in the morning." She must be waking up very happy these days.
Scott Galindez is the Political Director of Reader Supported News, and the co-founder of Truthout. Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
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