Uptown youth march for peace and justice

HARLEM, N.Y. – Nearly 1,000 young workers, high school and college students marched here Dec. 14 demanding an end to Bush’s war drive and citywide campus budget cuts.

With the slogan 'We Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere!' the march was called by Uptown Youth for Peace and Justice, a coalition representing anti-war groups, community organizations, youth groups, immigrant rights groups, labor unions and churches.

Karim Lopez, a march organizer, said, 'this march is historic because it is by and for young people. Young people face a special kind of oppression and exploitation. As youth we are given the worst jobs, with the worst pay, and the most money is made off of us.'

Lopez not only called for an end to the war being waged on Iraq but also for an end to the war against youth.

Undeterred by rain, marchers wound their way through the Washington Heights and Harlem neighborhoods of Manhattan. March organizers charge that the neighborhoods, with Black and Latino residents, are targeted with the brunt of budget cuts and military recruitment. Local residents joined in anti-war chants and waved peace signs from their windows.

Maaret Klaber, a 17-year-old high school student, made giant origami cranes to give to protesters. Klaber told the story of a little girl in Japan who was dying of radiation after the dropping of nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. She added, 'I just wanted to carry that traditional symbol for peace.'

'It is in our interests to stop this war,' said Alcy Montas, a member of the Uptown Young Communist League.

'A lot of women, especially women of color, helped organize this event,' she said. 'We are a part of this and we are doing something, as women, to stop this war. We are in this together. And women will be affected by this war.'

Harlem Councilman William Perkins, who submitted a resolution to the New York City Council, said the Bush administration was also waging a 'domestic war.'

'Our economic system,' he said, 'is maintaining a state of poverty in our communities.'

Along with the New York City Council, 20 other city councils have submitted resolutions opposed to war. The marchers also gave their support to the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100.

Gary Bono, a TWU member, told marchers, 'Bush has declared war on the working people of the world and on working people here.' Adding, 'there is no money for schools, hospitals, houses and workers. But, there is money for war.'

'This is jsut the beginning,' Lopez said. 'Young people are organizing in New York City and around the country to fight for their rights and to say, 'we won’t fight your dirty war in Iraq.'

Libero Della Piana contributed to this article. The author can be reached at tonypec@pww.org