Black Alliance for Peace at March 18 Peace in Ukraine action (Photo: Erica Caines)
On March 18 thousands of people rallied in Washington DC to mark the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and to call for an end to the war in Ukraine.
This article was originally published in Toward Freedom.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—An estimated couple of thousand of people to “several thousand” marched on March 18 in downtown Washington D.C., calling for an end to the U.S. imperialist project that they hold responsible for 20 years of a “War on Terror” on millions of people. The weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
U.S. interference in the form of military invasions and other types of activities since 2001 have caused the global displacement of 38 million people and the death of at least 900,000 people, according to the Costs of War Project. Those are conservative estimates.
The demonstration aimed to link the lack of funding for people’s needs in the United States with the diversity of tactics the United States uses to perpetuate wars on people around the world.
“The proxy war in Ukraine has already taken hundreds of thousands of lives, plunged the world into crisis, and will cost the people of the U.S. at least $113 billion in public money,” Press TV reported. “Over the past year, Washington has supplied Ukraine with military equipment worth more than $50 billion, excluding other types of assistance worth tens of billions of dollars.
Rally speakers representing a diverse cross-cut of U.S. society, ranging from students and Filipino migrants, to internal U.S. colonies like African and Indigenous peoples, as well as Wikileaks Publisher Julian Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, gathered in front of the White House for a 1 p.m. rally. Toward Freedom Board Secretary Jacqueline Luqman also spoke, which can be found here, here and here.
Then a mile-long march kicked off that stopped briefly at the Washington Post headquarters.
Activists spoke out against the newspaper—now owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos—because it spread information that helped build the U.S. government’s case for the invasion of Iraq. A U.S. Senate intelligence committee report later found the war was based on false information.
Activists on Saturday carried coffins wrapped in the flags of countries that the United States has either invaded over the past two decades or that the United States has helped fuel a conflict inside of through the shipment of arms and funds.
After the march, a teach-in was held at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, just a few blocks from the rally site. There, professor Noam Chomsky, as well as representatives from the U.S. colonies of Guam and Hawaii, gave remarks.
Activists like Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture of Philadelphia, a member of the Black Alliance for Peace, spoke out against the international wars as well as the domestic war on the people of the United States. That includes the most recent federal government move to eliminate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to hungry households. “Roughly 60 percent of those households have children, and more than half include older people or adults with disabilities,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s editorial board writes.
More than 200 organizations demonstrated against the United States funding and arming the war in Ukraine, and called for the United States to not interfere in peace negotiations. They also spoke out against a possible military conflict with China and decried the U.S./EU sanctions regime that prevents food, fuel and medicine from reaching one-third of the world’s population.
Plus, the call was raised to close U.S. military bases around the world and U.S. military commands, such as AFRICOM. Some estimates have ranged from as little as 800 bases to thousands of bases, according to U.S. military veteran and psychologist Monisha Rios. She claimed at the International Women’s Alliance conference, held March 4-5 in Washington, D.C., that activists have used a figure based on a calculation that undercounts U.S. military installations.
People leading the march held banners that read, “Remember Iraq: No More Wars Based on Lies” and “Fund People’s Needs, Not War.”
“Thousands of anti-war protesters stretched for blocks without a corporate camera in sight yesterday,” tweeted independent journalist Chuck Modi, who has documented protests in Washington, D.C. “In pre-cell phone age, you wouldn’t even know it happened.”
The protest was noted for how it was led by people who bear the brunt of U.S. imperialism.
“When the interests and positions of colonized people are respected, the turnout to mobilizations look different,” tweeted the Black Alliance for Peace, an anti-imperialist organization led by African people in the United States. “Perhaps the March 18 demonstrations signal a shift is taking place: That an anti-imperialist movement led by young African and other colonized peoples is rising.”
Many commented that a renewed movement for peace was emerging with this demonstration. About 11 million people protested the U.S. invasion of Iraq 20 years ago.
“Here we are again, 20 years later, because imperialism persists,” Black Agenda Report Executive Editor Margaret Kimberley told activist group Popular Resistance. “As long as that is true, the location of the war will change, the people waging the war will change, but we will still have wars. Our goal is to end imperialism.”
Besides in Washington, D.C., demonstrations were held in dozens of cities across the United States.
Julie Varughese is editor of Toward Freedom.