On the anniversary of Bush’s reelection, over a thousand students walked out of class to protest the Iraq war through chants, banners and passionate speeches.
The walkout gathered in front of Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota campus, and was organized by the groups Youth Against War and Racism, Socialist Alternative and Anti-War Organizing League. Members of the Green Party spoke on the political agenda surrounding the war. While the main point of the protest was to bring attention to military recruitment in high schools and the negative way in which Bush handled the war, other politics, such as Israel were included in the discussion and fervor.
Huge banners were waved, expounding the purpose of protesting. Some posters displayed the slogan, “Military Recruiters, out of our schools.” Protesters pointed to the idea that the money spent on war should instead be used for education. The groups supported the soldiers but critiqued the Bush administration and their actions. A banner reading “Impeach Bush” hung behind the speakers. One man held a sign reading, “Repel the Christofascist overthrow of America” and another man strung the U.S. flag upside down.
As the group began to march toward the General College and a military recruitment office, chants swept the crowd demanding that Bush leave office. The demonstration maintained a peaceful decorum, but their presence was made known. As they marched up Pleasant Street several cars were forced to find an alternate route.
Since the whole of the event was performed without a violent incident, the political rhetoric is the true focal point. One of the speakers stated, “…imposing a democracy on Iraqis comes at a price most Americans are not willing to pay.” While this language seems initially harsh, latest polls conducted by The Wall Street Journal show that 53 percent of Americans surveyed believe military action was the wrong solution. According to the BBC a poll done for the coalition shows that 45 percent of Iraqis believe attacks against coalition forces are justified.
Statistics like these are what the anti-war movement has developed and taken to the mindset to “End the Occupation Now”. These organizations stood behind the message that the Bush administration pushed for war on the grounds of business and oil. Some protesters even suggested that Saddam Hussein was essentially a puppet of the United States and once he chose to no longer be their pawn he was viewed as a threat. This was an extreme viewpoint offered up for discussion during the demonstration.
The rally focused on high school military recruiters and around 1,500 high school students from the metro area attended the rally to voice their concerns, according to the Socialist Alternative. Alec Johnson, a Socialist Alternative member explained, “A huge majority of high school students are sick of the recruiters bothering them at lunch time and calling them. The point of the rally was to have the high school students joining forces with anti-war protesters at the U of M on the anniversary of Bush’s reelection.” This rally was a means for them to voice their opinion on a war that has grown in public dissatisfaction. Whether this action will generate a larger complaint over time to a full anti-war movement is yet to be seen, but in either case the Bush administration faces increasing disproval and the nation will be waiting for their response.