Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=141553
Story Retrieval Date: 6/18/2013 2:54:24 AM CST
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition Chicago, Neighbors for Peace, Palestine Solidarity Group, International Socialist Organization, Asian Americans for Peace and Justice, Campaign for Labor Rights, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Mexico Solidarity Network, Cook County Greens, Middle East Children's Alliance, National Council of Arab Americans, Respect for Democracy Campaign, activist Cindy Sheehan, CodePink, Nicaragua Solidarity Network-Chicago, Alliance for Global Justice
Nearly 300 Chicagoans demanded that U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq on the eighth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan Wednesday.
Demonstrators, who rallied downtown outside Chicago's landmark Water Tower, said money being spent on U.S. operations in those areas should be spent at home for health care, jobs, housing and education.
“It’s kind of like throwing good money after bad things,” said Tracy McLellan, 50, of Wicker Park.
President Obama is considering sending more troops to Afghanistan, at the request of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U. S. forces in Afghanistan. Obama sent 21,000 troops to the area earlier this year.
“Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world,” said Heather Benno of A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition Chicago, an activist group that organized the demonstration. If she could speak with Obama in person, she said, she would tell him not to send any more troops.
For some, the rally was very personal.
Juan Torres lost his son, John, in Afghanistan in 2004. Since his son died while serving on an air base, Torres has travelled the country advocating for the return of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“I protest because I feel better when I protest,” Torres said. “It gives me energy.”
Bayan Ismael, a 15-year-old daughter of Palestinian immigrants, rallied in honor of her grandfather who staunchly opposed the presence of U.S. troops assisting with border operations in Palestine. He died last Friday.
“Troops need to leave Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said.
Among the groups represented at the rally were the Islamic Community Center of Chicago, World Can’t Wait, CodePink, North Suburban Peace Initiative and Albany Park Neighbors for Peace.
The rally was among several held nationwide on Wednesday. Participants said the efforts are effective.
“The civil rights movement, the women’s movement, "said activist Stefanie Fisher, "[those] happened because people were on the streets.”
They may also be a sign of the frustration of the American people.
“Really, it’s desperation,” McLellan said. “I don’t know what else to do.”