Denver Protests Ongoing Imperialist Wars
October 7 was the 8th anniversary of the start of the current war in Afghanistan by the United States. A number of national groups in the remaining U.S. anti-war movement called for actions. Locally the Denver Anti-War Network (DAWN) called for a march many months ago, and it kicked off this day. Many activists gathered for two separate events in Denver on October 7th, a march against the Afghanistan war, and a “Justice and Peace Jamboree” right after the march.
About 50 people mobilized for a rally and march that started at the Denver Federal Courthouse downtown. A rally was held there for an hour. A street theater was held about the situation in Afghanistan. The crowd consisted of nominal anti-imperialists, anarchists, national liberation supporters, and anti-police brutality activists, along with RAIM members and supporters. As it was a broad-based march against the war in Afghanistan, there were many who advocated First Worldist, pro-Amerika politics. RAIM provided many anti-imperialist, anti-Amerika, anti-troop, and pro-Third World signs and slogans to promote our politics. After the rally the march then set down 16th Street mall. It was small in comparison to previous anti-war rallies, but was spirited and opted for more charged slogans. “Number One Terrorist, U.S. Imperialists” were chanted by a large majority of the protesters for much of the march. The protest itself stayed on message, the notable interject of the so-called health care debate in the march was a sign brought by a RAIM comrade: “The Real Health Care Crisis- Amerikan Imperialism.”
Protesters addressed multiple issues in their slogans. “From Iraq to Palestine, Occupation is a Crime” and “No Justice, No Peace, Control the Police” was chanted by the crowd. The march ended at a military recruitment office along the way. Visual images of the victims of the war were going to be displayed, for some truth in advertising in military recruitment, but was prevented by the pigs who were already there blocking the recruitment entrance.
For the small size of the march, the police presence was large. The federal police at the courthouse put cameras in front of and photographed protesters, and generally intimidated those expressing free speech rights. Before stepping off, a speaker noted one local cop who was involved in a brutality case against a citizen. He called the pig, who is black, a “twisted uncle tom” through a megaphone. Along the march anti-police brutality activist Shareef Aleem noted the large amount of pigs who followed the peaceful march. The police repression locally was also brought up, as well as the recent piggery against activists in Pittsburgh who were protesting at the G-20 meetings. Everywhere along the march route Denver pigs were there to meet us.
The after-event, the Justice and Peace Jamboree, was held at a local restaurant and music venue, the Mercury Cafe, and was attended by over 70 people. It was quite diverse, featuring a moving play about the Israeli settler state entitled Seven Jewish Children; interesting poetry by local poet Lenny C, hip hop by local group the Golden Soldiers; and speeches by local activists for a number of causes and organizations. Denver RAIM member, Hector, gave a short, powerful speech which highlighted the fact the it’s not Bush or Obama that’s the problem, it’s Amerika. Several RAIM supporters picked up the latest issue of the RAIM Global Digest and we got a chance to meet and get our message out to new people.
The numbers at this march and rally were expectedly small, as it was one of the first anti-war actions under the Obama adminstration. On the other-hand, Obamamania has pulled some of the most reformist, pro-Amerika elements out of the anti-war movement, leaving the more radical sectors. This was evident in Denver, as more moderate activists were absent at this march, leaving space for anti-imperialist slogans and direction.
Nationally the remnants of the anti-war movement called for protests around this anniversary date as Obama escalates war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Earlier in a march in Washington DC the corporate media reported almost 100 arrests at the marches there. It remains to be seen where the anti-war movement will go in the U.S. under Obama.
In the end, marches and protests of 40 people or 40,000, even with anti-imperialist slogans, will not end the war. Revolutionary Anti-Imperialists know occupied peoples can only be truly liberated through their own accord. However, as allies of the oppressed Third World masses in the First World, one thing we can do is build public opinion in favor of their struggle. For those who truly desire change, there is little reason to reach out to the middle ground, water-down our message and pander to a progressive Amerikan majority that doesn’t exist. For revolutionary anti-imperialists, our message to Denver’s anti-war movement is clear: true change will only come through an end to imperialism, through a revolution of the world’s oppressed people against First World imperialism and Amerika; those who really support real change must support the Third World struggle and the defeat of Amerika.