By Andy Koch
March 23 anti-war protest.
FIST photo: Dante Strobino
Youth activists and community members gathered in front of North Carolina’s Federal Building in Raleigh on March 23 to denounce the war on Washington’s newest target of aggression: the North African state of Libya.
North Carolina, home to the enormous U.S. army base at Fort Bragg, is often touted by state officials as “the most military-friendly state.” The slogan is part of a public relations push to expand existing bases and make North Carolina even more dependent on military money.
Despite this dependence, supportive motorists sent continual honks and shout-outs to the demonstrators. Those North Carolina residents were no doubt disturbed by the strong feeling of militaristic deja-vu brought on by the news of the 118 U.S. cruise missiles unleashed on Libya only days before. It wasn’t mentioned much on CNN or Fox News, but the recent blitz of firepower on the African nation came on the eighth anniversary of the start of the United States’ war on Iraq, another oil-rich former colony.
Members of Raleigh FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) held handmade signs and chanted “No justice, no peace! U.S. out of the Middle East!” Addressing the group, activist Kosta Harlan highlighted the connection between endless war abroad and poverty and repression at home. “How can they tell us that there’s no money for people’s needs, that we need to cut back,” Harlan said, “when each of the missiles they are pounding Libya with right now costs over $1 million? It’s insane!”
As a local organizer for the Committe to Stop FBI Repression, Harlan reminded the demonstrators that in the past year the government has stepped up its efforts to jail and silence anti-war activists with raids, subpoenas and the Federal Grand Jury system. “We need a strong anti-war movement now more than ever,” Harlan said, “and we aren’t going to let the FBI stop us.”
Students for a Democratic Society at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill endorsed and sent people, as did NC HEAT, the group fighting against resegregation of the schools, and Raleigh Fruit Cakes, an lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer organization.
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