Antiwar rally at White House

December 17, 2010

WASHINGTON--More than 200 antiwar activists gathered for a protest and civil disobedience action at the White House December 16 in response to the long-awaited report from the Obama administration and the Pentagon on the escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, the report declares that the escalation worked, and troops will start coming home in July of next year. The protesters weren't about to stand for this.

Organized by Veterans for Peace and supported by Code Pink, March Forward and other groups, the protest started at 10 a.m. in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House.

A series of speakers, including Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, spoke to the backwards priorities of the administration and Congress, calling on them to end the wars and start spending money on creating jobs and supporting education for all. Ellsberg compared Vietnam and Afghanistan, saying, "The only difference between Vietnam and Afghanistan is that it snows in Afghanistan." He and other speakers also called for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, who is accused of providing documents to WikiLeaks.

Debbie Peterson from Cleveland came to the protest. "I'm here because I want peace, truth and justice," she said. Many in the crowd were veterans, from the Vietnam War through Afghanistan. There was a mix of locals from the D.C. area to people from as far away as Minnesota, New Mexico, Washington, California and more. Signs read, "Refuse to fight another rich man's war" and "Veterans say, 'Don't bleed for Wall Street greed'"

After the speeches, the crowd did a silent single-file march around the block to end directly in front of the White House. Several people jumped over a barricade to latch themselves onto the White House fence, and many more followed their lead in the civil disobedience action. The fence was lined with about 100 people, chanting "End the Wars Now!" and signing "We Shall Overcome."

The police brought in two large Metro buses and three smaller police trucks to arrest the protesters.

Solidarity protest were also held in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, St. Louis, New York City, Washington state, Des Moines, Boston and Dallas.

The energy of the D.C. protest was high, even though it was snowing and cold. Protesters saw the importance of a rebirth of the antiwar movement, especially since Obama has made the Afghanistan war "his war." We need to organize and fight to end the wars and occupations.

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