Monday, October 11, 2010

SDS Protests the 9th Anniversary of the Afghanistan WAR

As a crowd in white assembled in the Plaza of the Americas of the University of Florida on Thursday afternoon, many passersby approached to hear a much needed message. The war in Afghanistan has now been going strong for a full nine years, the longest war in U.S. history, and on this ninth anniversary, Gainesville area SDS took a public stand against it.

With a campaign consisting of wearing white shirts to show support for peace and an end to the war in Afghanistan, SDS recruited several hundred students across campus to participate. This day-long display for peace culminated in a rally in the late afternoon with eight organizations and many student and community supporters in attendance. Fact sheets were distributed at the rally informing those attending of disturbing figures regarding the war, and why it needs to be ended. The demands were clear: end the war now and bring the troops home. Speaking to a crowd of about 50 people, ten representatives spoke through a megaphone in support of these demands. Organizations showing solidarity with SDS in its campaign included both Code Pink and Campus Code Pink, Students for Justice in Palestine, Students for Peace in Korea, ISO, the Farmworker Association of Florida, and Vets for Peace. All of the speakers had important and often moving things to say.

Fernando Figueroa of SDS affirmed the long-standing tradition of SDS demanding funding for jobs and education, rather than imperialist wars. John Fullerton of Vets for Peace reminded the crowd that the best way to support the troops is to bring them home. Michelle Harris from Code Pink reaffirmed their opposition to the false idea that this is a “war of liberation” for Afghani women. Speaking on behalf of SDS, Conor Munro brought to light the often unnoticed fact that the United States has been in Afghanistan for almost half of most college students’ lives, while a seventh of the population of the US lives in poverty. Mark Jaskowski of the Gainesville ISO also connected what often seems like a distant, irrelevant war to our situation here at home, reminding the crowd that it is our generation that is and will continue to be sent to war until it is stopped. Tying all of these issues together as interrelated, Dave Schneider (SDS) called for a renewed commitment to rebuilding the anti-war movement, a goal to which many who left the rally felt it was time to take seriously. This final note of optimism to rejuvenate the anti-war movement will surely lead many toward activism, and if necessary, result in a commanding presence in the rally of the ten year anniversary.

-Sean Larson

Related Article:

The Independent Florida Alligator

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