Fort Lauderdale, FL- Over 50 protesters from several different cities gathered outside of the Federal Courthouse here, Oct. 8 to mark the 15th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. They demanded that the U.S. stop intervening in and occupying countries in the Middle East, an end to U.S. drone strikes, and to end all financial and military assistance for Saudi and Israeli war crimes.
The protest, organized by People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism, and Racism (POWIR), began with a sign waving outside of the courthouse as protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace! U.S. out of the Middle East!” and “1,2,3,4 we won’t fight a rich man’s war!”
People then gathered in a circle to hear a lineup of speakers comprised of local leaders in the progressive activist movement, including organizers with the Green Party of Broward and Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward. One of those who spoke was Craig Watts, a Christian minister and member of the Disciples Peace Fellowship.
“I have been a peace and justice activist for 40 years, I have been standing up against U.S. wars for decades,” Watts said. “And when the time comes to choose between standing for the U.S. and its wars and standing for peace, I will always stand for peace! You can’t be with Jesus and be for imperialism.”
After listening to speeches, activists boldly took to the busy streets of downtown Fort Lauderdale chanting loudly, “These racist wars have got to go!” They marched with their signs and a large banner that read, “Stop the endless war! U.S. out of the Middle East!”
The protesters marched for about a mile taking up one lane of traffic, despite police cars following them and warning them to get off the streets or face arrest. Passing cars honked and gave peace signs to support the protesters. Toward the end of the march, they took over the intersection at Broward Bouldevard and SE 3rd Street and blocked it for a one-minute long moment of silence for victims of U.S. wars.
The group then wrapped things up by listening to a final list of speakers from groups like Al-Awda South Florida and Peace, Justice, Sustainability Florida.
“While the U.S. spends tax dollars to fight these wars, education spending is being cut and funding to Planned Parenthood is being cut,” said Jessica Schwartz of the Tampa Anti-War Committee. “At the same time, the wars abroad are used to justify political repression of activists here, including the group of activists raided and subpoenaed by the FBI known as the Anti-War 23. And Palestinian activists like Rasmea Odeh, who was targeted as a result of speaking out in defense of her homeland. That is why we must keep fighting back!”
Galvanized by a strong sense of solidarity, those in attendance vowed to continue resisting U.S. wars abroad and to keep organizing locally against U.S. imperialism at home and abroad until justice is won.