10,000 Marched to Honor Rev. King and Oppose Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

 In Iraq, Middle East, military, Peace, War
I was very fortunate to march with the lead of this important protest:

10,000 Marched to Honor Rev. King and Oppose Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 

New York, NY -- Saturday, April 4.  On the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther
 King, Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, TN and the anniversary of his
 ‘Beyond Vietnam’ speech at Riverside Church, NYC – one year earlier
 – United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) marched on Wall Street
 protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while demanding more money for
 domestic needs. In the historic speech, Dr. King said the “triple evils”
 that plagued the nation were “racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.”

“In the spirit of Dr. King and the movement of equality and justice of the
 fifties and sixties, I say if we want peace to blossom, we must eradicate
 poverty, racism, sexism, violence and greed in the U.S.  Peace cannot come
 by crying peace.  Peace can only begin to emerge as we do justice.
 90 million working Americans hover in poverty or with poverty.  The
 greatest impetuous for peace or stimulus to the economy is that those
 90 million receive wages that would allow them to sustain themselves and
 their family.  Nothing would be more explosive than that kind of
 stimulus,” preached Rev. James Lawson, co-worker with Rev. King,
 organizer of Freedom Rides and life long advocate for nonviolence.

“Dr. King once suggested that the ‘church should not be the servant of
 the state nor the master of the state, but conscious of the state.’
 So today we gather as faith leaders and people of good will to send a
 righteous reminder to our President and other elected leaders that
 nonviolence and the concerns of the least of these must be at the
 forefront of out national and international agenda,” said Rev. Dr. Brad
 R. Braxton Senior Minister of the Riverside Church.

The esteemed reverends led the march holding a banner that read “Beyond
 War, A New Economy Is Possible,” followed by another large banner “End
 Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”  Organizers claimed that over 10,000 people
 joined, surrounded the NY Stock Exchange, and marched past the Federal
 building and the famous bull into what they called a “Peace Fair.”  The
 New York Police department refuses to give crowd estimates.

“We have had enough of war! We need to devote all of our energy and
 attention to addressing the global economic and climate crises, to
 improving education, housing and health care in this country, not
 squandering $12 billion per month on the occupations of Iraq and
 Afghanistan,” said Leslie Kielson, Co-Chair of United for Peace and

The groups campaign calls for an end to the wars in Iraq and
 Afghanistan and for new approaches to resolving the economic crisis,
 one that moves towards a green economy.  UFPJ linked their campaign to
 Dr. King’s Riverside speech where he stated the need to “rapidly begin
 the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.”

“On this anniversary of Reverend Martin Luther Kings’ speech
 ‘Beyond Vietnam,’ we march on Wall Street calling for and end to the
 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and demand the use of tax dollars to meet
 human needs right here at home.  We stand together to say war is not
 the solution to our economic problems,” said George Paz Martin, Co-Chair
 for UFPJ and board member of the Peace Action Education Fund. 

Kielson thought that people have pinned their hopes on President Obama
 and the change he promised. His domestic agenda, outlined in his budget,
 takes steps in the right direction, she thought, but claimed his escalation
 of the war in Afghanistan, as well as the ongoing occupation of Iraq,
 threaten to obliterate the most progressive aspects of Obama’s domestic
 agenda, just as the war in Vietnam ruined the presidency of President Lyndon

“More war is not the answer, and until fundamental changes are made in U.S.
 foreign policy -- an end to blank-check support for Israel, an end to U.S.
 occupation and military bases in Arab lands, an end to threats to Iran, an
 end to the chimera of the Global War on Terror, an end to hypocrisy on nuclear
 proliferation, and concrete steps to address legitimate grievances in the Arab
 and Muslim world -- whatever we do in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq, short of
 a massive occupation which would be immoral and we can't afford, is doomed to
 failure,” stated Kielson.

UFPJ pointed out that King’s words still ring true across four decades, “A nation
 that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on
 programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”


United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is a coalition of more than 1400 local and national
 groups throughout the United States who formed to protest the immoral and disastrous
 Iraq War and oppose our government's policy of permanent warfare and empire-building.
 Coalition members include Fellowship of Reconciliation, Iraq Veterans Against the War,
 Peace Action and Veterans for Peace

For links to audio and text of the Rev king speech, see:
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Showing 2 comments
  • Andrew Romero

    WHy was this not on the news?

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