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Marchers call for feeding the poor, not feeding war

More than 100 people marching and rallying for peace and justice on Oct. 2 called for feeding the poor, not the war.

They chanted hopes for options possible if wars abroad end: health care, education, jobs, clean water, food, homes and local farms.

Spokane peace rally on October 2

While calls for cuts in spending usually focus on cutting services and infrastructure, the marchers called attention to the massive amount of funds going for war and war-industry profits.

Posters challenged:

“Smart bombs or smart kids?  Let’s put our money where our future is.”

“Actions of a few can put the world in harmony.”

“Grandmothers for jobs, justice and peace.”

“Warfare is welfare for the rich.”

Liz Moore
Liz Moore, director of PJALS

Liz Moore, director of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS), which organized the event, said that Eastern Washington has lost $2.1 billion in funding that has gone since 2001 to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That amount could have provided $932 million per year for health care for children, $381 million a year for Pell grants for college students, $229,800 a year for children in HeadStart and $1,081,000 a year for renewable energy for households, she said.

Instead of money going to communities, it went to benefit people who make money off war, she commented, quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., who called war “a demonic, destructive suction tube” that draws the life out of communities.

Liz added that war adds costs to communities when 30 percent of vets return mentally ill, and when the number of wounded who need care far exceeds the number of dead.

She also expressed concern that offices of antiwar activists in Minnesota have been raided by the FBI and there have been arrests and surveillance of other anti-war activists.

Roseanne Lasater
Roseanne Lasater, Code Pink

Roseanne Lasater spoke on behalf of Code Pink, which is a nationwide women’s anti-war group that supports ending war spending and calls for re-investing in the needs of Americans at home.

She called for building an America united for jobs, peace and justice for all.

Roseanne calls for an America that is willing to educate minds, to have an economy that works for all, to keep up the dream of civil rights,to fix the broken immigration system, to clean up the environment and to assure equality for women.

Tom Charles
Tom Charles

Tom Charles of Veterans for Peace said it would be nice if “we did not need to come out to march, but if America follows the path of continued war it means there will not be money for health care, jobs, child care and social programs.  It means that 10s of thousands of soldiers return wounded from terrible useless wars.”

The Vietnam veteran said that without protests of that earlier war, it would have gone on longer.  Tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lost their lives. 

“More would have died if tens of thousands of people had not walked the streets to protest the war.  We can do the same to end this war,” Tom said.  “Neither the President nor Congress will end the war.  We the people will end it."

Joe Anderson
Joe Anderson

Joe Anderson of Gonzaga’s Justice Club said despite the change in U.S. administrations from Bush to Obama, “the war machine continues to operate.”  According to Iraq Body Count, since 2003 at least 95,000—Wikileaks report 150,000—Iraqis and 4,400 Americans have been killed.  Economist Joseph Stiglitz says the wars will cost at least $3 trillion. 

“With 50,000 American soldiers and 100,000 private contractors in Iraq today, a permanent U.S. presence has been normalized,” Joe said.

In his 21 months in office, he said, the President has sent three times more soldiers to Afghanistan, setting up a permanent American presence in South Central Asia “under the guise of promoting women’s liberation and democracy.”

He calls for a mass mobilization of concerned individuals on campuses and in communities to protest the U.S. war machine.

Cindy White, anti-war activist, announced weekly anti-war vigils at 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays, at Wellesley and Division.

Marrianne Torres
Marianne Torres

Marianne Torres, writer and activist, is concerned that U.S. funding going to Israel helps support human rights violations.  From 2009 to 2018, the U.S. will give $30 billion in military aid to Israel, which “uses the funds to buy weapons, destroy Palestinians’ homes, build Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land and engage in other human rights violations against an unarmed civilian population,” she said.

“Do we want the money to support a cultural war or support life and civil rights?  We need to end the blockade of Gaza and end aid Israel uses for that and for the occupation of the West Bank.  There is a growing global boycott designed to end the occupation and other human rights violations against Palestinians.  It’s a tool people can use to end the crimes and human rights violations against Palestinians.”

David Brookbank
David Brookbank

David Brookbank, who is a local activist, expressed his ongoing concern about the role of the United State and CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) in undermining democracies in Latin America, and in repressing unions and journalists. 

There are still CIA-supported coups that undermine elections, he said.

“We are kept distracted by banal TV dramas, news fiction and shopping,” he said, calling people to stand against imperialism, racism and repression.

Mariah McKay
Mariah McKay

Mariah McKay of Next Up Spokane, a youth organization, wants to see the 100 who came turn into 1,000 people speaking truth to power.

“There’s an education and awareness dilemma,” she said.  “We need to connect young people on issues and organize so more will show up to protest and vote.

Next Up canvassed neighborhoods to encourage people to vote.  It is also building a mobile voter registration bike unit to increase citizen involvement.

Deb Conklin
The Rev. Deb Conklin

The Rev. Deb Conklin, a United Methodist pastor, shared a vignette of a Mexican drawn by the American dream of welcome of immigrants, celebration of diversity and acts of compassion.

“These are things that make America great, but it breaks my heart that so many Americans, even members of my family, want to destroy those values out of their fear and hate,” she said.  “If we don’t put social and economic justice at the center of our ministry, we are not being Christian.  We need to oppose misrepresentations that put people and groups down with hate and division.

“We need to invite friends and family to think about what it means to be a country that truly welcomes immigrants, cares for creation and offers justice and a better life for all, not just the wealthy.  We are called to speak out at a critical time to care for the environment,” she said.

PJALS organized the event with Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, the NAACP, Spokane Veterans for Peace and Peace Action Washington.

For information, call 838-7870.