(From the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism)
Speakers to include military vet who served in unit of former football star and friendly fire victim Pat Tillman.Â
Chicago, ILÂ – Local peace activists will rally and march on Saturday from the corner of Congress and Michigan Ave, beginning at noon on Saturday, March 19, to mark another grim anniversary of the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq. They have renamed the assembly area for the rally “Liberation Square“, in honor of the Egyptian democracy movement, which with a similar movement in Tunisia has sparked a vast movement for democracy across the Middle East.
Last month, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq said the U.S. military occupation would NOT end in 2011, as originally promised to Iraqi officials. The U.S. spends hundreds of millions of dollars each day to bankroll its military endeavors, including the war in Iraq, where 50,000 U.S. troops remain stationed in a nation still deeply marred by the human and fiscal costs of the war. Thousands of US troops have been killed in the war and occupation, and the death toll among Iraqis, while disputed, is in the hundreds of thousands. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops have been injured in the last eight years, and Iraqis deal daily with the consequences, ranging from rolling blackouts to sweeping unemployment and widespread poverty. The cost to the U.S. economy has been estimated to be as high as three trillion dollars, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, writing in the Washington Post in 2008.
Protesters argue that Illinois’ budget deficit could be offset in a matter of weeks with what the U.S. government spends on wars in countries that include Iraq and Afghanistan, besides ending bitterly resented occupations that have created severe hardship for the peoples of the region.
Speakers at Saturday’s rally will include a military veteran who served in the Afghanistan-based Army unit of former football star and soldier Pat Tillman, who was killed by ‘friendly fire’ in 2004. Other speakers will include public workers from Wisconsin and Illinois, whose salaries and benefits been hammered by state governments that claim deficits force massive cutbacks.
More than 70 local peace, faith-based and community organizations have endorsed Saturday’s protest, being organized by the coalition project theÂ March 19 Coalition. The protesters are demanding an immediate end to the U.S. war and occupation, including both by U.S. military forces and U.S.-bankrolled contractors, and for funding to be redirected to desperately needed services at home, including jobs, education, and health care. They are also demanding a wholesale U.S. exit from bankrolling occupations and meddling in the affairs of Palestine, Afghanistan and the larger Middle East, an end to FBIÂ raids and political repression of peace and justice activists in the U.S., and an end to corporate welfare at home.