WASHINGTON DC - Anti-war demonstrations marking the 8th annivesary of the Iraq war took place on Saturday around the country. Almost 5,000 U.S. soldiers have died in the conflict along with the hundreds of thousands of troops who returned home with life changing injuries and mental health problems, not to mention the horrific death toll of Iraquis.
The Obama administration has begun withdrawing troops as promised, however, 50,000 still remain in Iraq.
In Washingon DC, a few thousand protestors gathered at the White House. The march and demonstration was organized by Veterans for Peace, Code Pink and Iraq Veterans Against the War.
The rally leading up to the march included many activists in the anti-war community.
A local student who turned out to the event with some of his friends was surprised at the number of youth who turned out. "There needs to be more youth involved in the anti-war movement. We grew up hearing stories about the 60's."
The march began in Lafayette Park across from the White House then paraded around the block in a silent vigil ending at the White House fence. Once back at the White House volunteers then began handcuffing themselves to the fence. Chanting, "The people united will never be defeated" and "Go home and organize!" the crowds huddled around the barricades set up to divide the protest area from the area the protesters were risking arrest. 130 were arrested by police.
Much concern was expressed at the event over the detention and treatment of whistle blower Private First Class Bradley Manning. With recent reports of Private Manning being kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day and being forced to sleep naked, his name was on everyones lips and everyones signs and t-shirts.
In Tuscon demonstrators marched and rallied demanding an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well. They also opposed and possible new U.S, military intervention in the region.
The day began with a spirited march from Armory park, through downtown Tucson and on to De Anza Park for an anti-war rally. The most prominent signs in the march were for "Jobs not war", and "Healthcare not warfare."
Speakers at the Rally included Bruce Slabaugh, President of AFSCME Local 449 who called for more action. "if you care about America." he said, "If you care about the next generation, you need to tell the President and Congress that your tired of these wars."
Congressional aide, Ruben Reyes, read a statement from Rep. Raul Grijalva calling the war in Afghanistan a "failed policy" and pointing out that, "This war has cost the taxpayers in my Congressional district more than $580 million so far. That's enough money to hire 11,278 elementary school teachers for a year, or to send 84,653 students to college. These are just some of the tradeoffs we're making by spending our national resources on war instead of fixing problems here at home".
The action was sponsored by 24 local organizations, including Veterans for Peace, Jobs with Justice, Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, and the Tucson Club of the Communist Party USA.