On Saturday, March 18, over 4,000 people took to the streets of Minneapolis to protest the occupation of Iraq to mark the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion. The turnout exceeded expectations, and was double the size of the protest last year. This was the largest anti-war event in the Twin Cities area since the huge protest of 10,000 the day after the war started.
The size is of this demonstration was especially significant because nationally and internationally the corporate media has been at pains to highlight the small size of the protests.
Both Socialist Alternative and Youth Against War and Racism had a strong presence on the march. Both the red SA and yellow YAWR banners were highly visible. The SA banner reading End War * End Racism * Fight for a Socialist Future was front and center in the Star Tribunes published photo of the demonstration on March 19th (www.startribune.com/472/story/315966.html)
Before the main demonstration YAWR organized a lively youth rally and march, starting in front of an Army recruiting center a few blocks away. 60 people, mainly high school students, left the recruitment station at 12:30 for a spirited march up Lake Street, through Calhoun Square (a fancy mini shopping mall), where we were met with cheering from shoppers and workers. Several people joined with us as we marched to the main demonstration, which received the youth contingent with big cheers and smiles.
A film crew from Nickelodeon flew in from New York to film the YAWR contingent. They had previously followed two YAWR activists from South High, Minneapolis for two days building up to the demonstration. The Nickelodeon show on youth activism will air Easter Sunday.
A YAWR activist from Central high, St. Paul, was the first speaker of the main rally and she announced our plans for a second metro-wide student walkout on April 28th.
After the march, we held a youth meeting to publicly launch the mobilization for a metro-wide student walkout on April 28th around the themes:
- End the Occupation of Iraq NOW to fund education and social needs
- NO! to military recruitment in our schools
- YES! to equal access to the University of Minnesota
- YES! to living wage jobs for youth
Check out walkout details at: www.yawr.org/april28
About 45 mainly high school students showed up to the meeting for a lively political discussion and planning session. For many, this was their first YAWR meeting.
We were able to get out about 1,000 copies of the new YAWR newsletter, RESISTANCE! for students to pass out in their schools. You can see a PDF of RESISTANCE! online at www.yawr.org/resistance1.pdf
With a strong turnout of Socialist Alternative activists we were able to widely distribute copies of our newspaper, Justice, and hundreds of leaflets for a teach-in on Iraq this week. Over $130 was raised in donations to our fighting fund.