Protesters Rally On 11th Anniversary Of War In Afghanistan
Organized by the ANSWER Coalition (or Act Now To Stop War and End Racism), the three-hour-long protest aimed to mobilize people to participate in an effort to demand the government bring troops back immediately, shut down the major army recruiting station in Hollywood and channel more money into social welfare programs.
"I went myself as part of the invasion into Iraq in March 2003. I went and believed in what I was told by the U.S. government that this is a war of self-defense to help the Iraqi people. It took me two month when I was there to realize all of those things were lies," said Mike Prysner, a Los Angeles branch organizer for the ANSWER Coalition.
Dietrich Nicholson, who came to take part in the protest with his friends, said he was worried about the livelihood of the service members back from the battlefront in the Middle East.
"I think the protest is important to let the politicians know the war is wrong. We've been in this war for too long, and it is costing trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars and lives and lives and lives. When these boys are coming back, some of them have real severe problems," said Nicholson.
Many protestors expressed a similar concern: another generation of veterans would be unemployed, homeless and not taken care of after they came home.
People also argued that the resources and money used in war should be invested instead at home for services like healthcare and education.
"The billions of dollars of money that go to the war everyday could be used to fund things like schools. In California particularly, we see the huge drop in the rankings from one of the best public school systems in the country to one of the worst, and it is because there is no funding, and money goes to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Daniel Norwood, the organizer of the Los Angeles branch of WORD (Women organized to resist and defend).
In April, Washington announced a plan to keep troops in Afghanistan until 2024. But the protestors said the government is using the "national security" as a pretext to enter criminal wars; they demanded the government cut military expenditures to instead bolster social programs.
"There are so many needs in this country...we should bring back the troops and we should never have been there in the first place," said Karen Riggs, a member of Orange County Peace Coalition.
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