Each year, Baltimore, Maryland, makes the list of the top five most dangerous cities, with one of the highest homicide rankings in the United States. Baltimore, a city with an African American population of 65 per cent, has, conservatively, a figure of 8.7 per cent unemployment, a poverty rate of 22 per cent, and a median income of $24,000. It also has one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, and at least 25 per cent of the population is uninsured.
Last weekend, the Washington Post reported that — in the D.C. Metropolitan area — Baltimore has lost the most people in the Iraq war and occupation.
On March 19, about 300 people in Baltimore attended an anti-war rally in a church on the West side of town. We protested the fact that $288.4 million of our tax monies are being spent on the illegal war and occupation of Iraq. Taxpayers in the state of Maryland, according to the National Priorities Project are paying a total of $4.1 billion for the war.
So, along with the rest of the U.S., last Saturday we in Baltimore took a stand against the war, in favour of funding instead the basic maintenance of our city’s people.
At our rally, two young students spoke about the lack of minimal school supplies, a home care worker explained that it was difficult for her to be in front of us speaking because she was ashamed to be making only $5 an hour, and a young Quaker told us about his brother who is currently serving in Iraq.
After the spirited rally, complete with a song leader, a young hip-hop poet who shared anti-war raps he penned, and a keynote from the Washington, DC-Maryland President of the AFL-CIO, we Baltimoreans took to the streets.
Marching to a recruitment center through low-income neighbourhoods, with mock coffins representing the lost Iraqi and U.S. lives, we chanted “Money for schools, not for war,” “Money for housing, for jobs, for health care, for peace-not for war.” At the recruitment centre, which we forced closed that day, the anti-war demonstrators spontaneously decided to meet there every Wednesday evening until the troops were brought back home.
From the recruiting centre we marched to the Inner Harbour, a revitalized mecca of consumerism, where corporate shops attract out-of-town tourists whose expenditures profit the stockholders of companies such as the GAP, Barnes & Noble and Hard Rock CafÃ©, rather than support the crumbling and decaying neighbourhoods of Baltimore. On March 19, those tourists were disturbed from their purchasing by a robust chant of “Bring the troops home now,” and angry signs demanding the end to the war.
During the demonstration, I received a text message from a comrade of mine in London, who excitedly reported 200,000 anti-war demonstrators in British streets. I was reminded that on that day, we in Baltimore were acting in solidarity with the global anti-war movement. At least 40 other countries around the globe had answered the call of protesting on the second anniversary of the invasion.
As our demonstration finished, I called up Baltimore activists who had traveled to the important demonstration in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a demonstration called by military families who witness the majority of U.S. troops being deployed from nearby Ft. Bragg: 5,000 demonstrators-strong.
In Los Angeles, a Baltimorean reported at least another 5,000-person protest against the war. And in New York City, reports came back of at least 10,000-15,000 anti-war protesters marching through the streets of Harlem.
With at least 765 cities and towns across the United States organizing demonstrations and anti-war events, and a severe underreporting by the corporate mass media of our movement, we will not get an exact number of protesters. But with the too-long sedated city of Baltimore attracting hundreds of anti-war demonstrators as an indicator, with the southern state of North Carolina organizing the major national demonstration of the day, the U.S. anti-war movement is set and poised to cause a major ache deep in the belly of the beast.
Did your town or city host an anti-war event on March 19? Please share the details of the event and your thoughts about the day’s events all over the globe — since we know Fox news will not cover us! Onwards.