Hundreds "Strike for Peace" in Duluth
by Carl Sack, Northland Anti-War Coalition
"What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!" rang out once again through the streets of downtown Duluth on Friday, Sept. 21 as protesters called for an immediate end to the Iraq war. Over 300 people interrupted their normal routines to take part in the Strike for Peace, which included events throughout the day aimed at opposing the war and creating a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.
The wet start to the day didn't deter dozens of activists from taking part in morning workshops held at the Building for Women on opposing military recruitment, stories from an Iraq War veteran and threats to the Constitution. At midday, over 250 gathered for a march from the Clayton, Jackson, McGhee Memorial to the Civic Center, where an energetic rally was held. Featured speakers included labor activists, an Iraqi-American, a Gulf War veteran and Univ. of St. Thomas professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer. The audience was also treated to a performance by the Raging Grannies, a high-class chorus of mature ladies who've had it with war and with the Bush Regime. They also provided home-baked cookies to the crowd.
After the rally, a group of activists continued the protest at the Federal Building by delivering banners to Jim Oberstar's office with signed messages demanding an end to the war. Ten were arrested and charged with tresspassing for blockading the entrance to the building when they were no longer allowed entry.
Workshops at the Building for Women continued throughout the afternoon, addressing such topics as engaging the Christian Right, spiritual progressivism, resistance to illegitimate authority, revolution, sustainable community and impeachment. The day was rounded off with an evening concert that featured local artists Rachel Kilgour, Sara Thomsen and Max Dakota.
Most of the day's events were sponsored by the Northland Anti-War Coalition. The civil disobedience action was planned by the ad-hoc Direct Action Working Group. NAWC holds regular monthly meetings on second Sundays at 2 PM at the Chester Creek Café, with a special upcoming meeting on Sept. 30; visit www.northlandantiwar.com for more information.
Lots of People helped make the Strike for Peace a success. Thanks to the Duluth Central Labor Body, Veterans for Peace, Duluth Area Green Party, Loaves and Fishes Catholic Worker Community, Socialist Action and Grandmothers for Peace for their endorsements and support. Thanks also to Jay Newcomb, Joel Kilgour, Sue Dailey, Daniel Fanning, Roger Cragun, Lorena Rodriguez, Emily Slagle, Adam Ritscher, Hal Bertilson, Frank Kronke, Ron Miller, Gary Sorenson and Andy Anderson for giving (or in one case, attempting to give) workshops. Thanks to Dr. Sabah Alwan, Shanti Wolf, Chad McKenna, Kim Butson, all the Raging Grannies and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer for speaking at the rally. And thanks to Carl Sack, Adam Ritscher, David Moulton, Joel Kilgour and Michelle Naar-Obed for working tirelessly to put it all together, and anyone else who has been regularly at NAWC meetings but hasn't been already mentioned. And thanks to everyone who came out - don't give up, and don't get tired! We need to keep on building the movement now more than ever.