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US Protesters Seek New Anti-War Movement

  • Nico Colombant

Vietnam Veteran Bill Steyert came from New York

Vietnam Veteran Bill Steyert came from New York

Demonstration follows President Obama's Nobel speech

Hundreds of protesters have gathered near the White House to try and start a new anti-war movement. Saturday's demonstration closely follows President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech, in which he said war is sometimes needed to establish lasting peace. Demonstrators in Washington opposed this view, as well as the president's request for 30,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

"Make it personal, make it personal, because killing is personal. It's immoral. It's personal," chanted protesters.

Former Democratic Alaska Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel led protesters in anti-war chants, while calling for a mass movement to help end U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The gathering, full of peace signs, anti-war posters, and one mock Guantanamo detainee, began under sunny,but cold skies with music from the hip-hop band Head-Roc.

The headline speaker at the event was current U.S. Democratic Representative from Ohio Dennis Kucinich.

"We must rally, protest, march to exercise our civic capacity to bring about real change. Congress must take responsibility. I will soon introduce two bills invoking the War Powers Act, which will force votes on withdrawal from Afghanistan. The decision to go to war is not the president's alone to make" stated Kucinich.

But Kucinich acknowledged Congress has other plans in mind. He went on to say, "this coming week, Congress will fold unemployment compensation into a bill which will provide $ 130 billion dollars to keep the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq going. The message is clear: 'we have money for war, but not for jobs; money for war, but not for peace.'"

Many at the rally said they had voted for President Obama in the 2008 election, including Bill Steyert who took a morning train from New York City.

Steyert said, "I would go after al-Qaida if and where we know they are and get them. But having thousands of troops shooting up villages, breaking in doors, looking for needles in haystacks, many times, it's ridiculous. And I am just furious because I am a Vietnam veteran and I saw the terrible waste of lives there. You can go to the (Vietnam Veterans War Memorial) Wall here in D.C. and see what that got us, and for what: an independent, communist Vietnam who now we trade with."

One unemployed woman, Wendy Fournier, said the protest was just a start.

"I think that there is such a thing as critical mass, the more protests, the more people out, the more people have to be aware of what is going on, the more people are conscious, that right there throws weight in our favor. Consciousness is the beginning of the whole thing," she stated.

Speaker after speaker called for a safe return of all troops, the end of drone strikes and torture and secret detentions, while police looked on and singers like Jordan Page provided musical interludes.