Over 40 people gathered Thursday afternoon to protest the wars and occupations in the Middle East, marking the tenth year of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. The protest – complete with chants, a speak-out, and song – took place in downtown Bloomington on the front lawn of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.
The Bloomington-Normal Citizens for Peace and Justice (BNCPJ) has held the monthly picket since 2001, but this month’s rally coincided with national protests against the war in Afghanistan. This Saturday, there will be a large rally and march in Chicago to protest the Afghanistan war, with the Obama Chicago campaign headquarters as the target, and an occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. just started today.
The size of the BloNo rally was double the usual number, bolstered by the upsurge in activism as a consequence of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
On Wednesday, Occupy BloNo organized a rally on the Illinois State campus in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, garnering over 200 people. The new nationwide movement has targeted the wealth and power possessed by the rich – the corporations and financial elite on Wall Street – and in doing so has connected the oppressions and exploitation suffered under capitalism. The war is seen by many Occupy Wall Street participants as one more way the elite profits at the expense of the rest of us.
This Saturday, BNCPJ is organizing a carpool of BloNo residents to attend the Chicago March and Rally Against the War. People will be meeting up on Douglas Street, just south of the front lawn of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, at 8:30 and leaving by 9:00 am. There should be a van and enough cars to take people who decide to attend.
Longer term, BNCPJ will be starting an anti-war campaign independent of the organization, demanding an end to the wars, an immediate 25% cut to the military budget, and the funding of Medicare for All health care program, education, and green jobs. It is seeking to form a broad-based coalition that can put help put grassroots pressure on government officials, through popular mobilization, to defund the war and fund our communities.
Local Media Coverage:
D.C., B-N, Demonstrators Protest War – Pantagraph