UPDATED, Dec. 3—
Thanks to FotM reader, "Nat" who alerts us that POP's Plainfield Branch also held a demonstration against expanding the war in Afghanistan this past Saturday during their regular monthly picket of the so-called Army Career Center on Front Street. Tip o' the hat to Steve and the whole Plainfield Branch. Oh, and apologies for not including the Plainfield demonstration in this report (also included in this update is the link to December 3rd's Amsterdam News article about the POP demonstration…
Throughout its more than 25 years of defending our right to education, quality healthcare, peace in the streets and against police brutality, racism, sexual oppression and many other scourges on our community, the People's Organization for Progress has not been the kind of organization that waits to react to these attacks. When it became clear this past week that the federal government would use the goodwill of the Thanksgiving Holiday to launch the military's expanded attack on the Afghan people, it was imperative to call an emergency demonstration before these new deprecations become a fact.
"Money for Education, Not for War! Money for Healthcare, Not for War!" and "Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan… No More War!" POP members and supporters chanted as they picketed at the intersection of Broad and Market Streets in downtown Newark. "The US ambassador in Kabul reported that this war isn't winnable, that the government the Bush Administration put in place is corrupt. That Hamid Karzai's government is spending US tax dollars defending his brother's heroin business. We need that money in this country for schools and hospitals, for education and healthcare, not Ahmed Wali Karzai's poppy crop," Larry Hamm, chairman of the People's Organization for Progress told the crowd.
While the POP picket began with the usual 10-30 dedicated members who arrived earlier than the scheduled 12-noon starting time, the crowd quickly expanded as Broad Street shoppers picked up U.S. Out Of Afghanistan or Bring The Troops Home NOW! picket-cards and joined in, before going on with their Saturday activities.
Thanks to the creative influence of people who joined the picket, POP's signature rhythmic chants expanded to include references to Pakistan as well. In a brief address to those assembled, Larry Hamm had elucidated how a secret war was already sending robot drone-bombers across the border in Pakistan. To "older-heads" in the crowd this brought back memories of bombing raids on Cambodia and Laos, thirty years earlier. One Korean War veteran commented that "military plans don't get changed by the President's good intentions. The best guy may be in the White House, but the brass is supposed to take orders from their Commander-in-Chief, not the other way round…"
The New York Amsterdam News was unique among the print media in reporting on anti-war sentiment in the Black community. See Americans protest Afghanistan troop buildup for their report coverage, including POP's picketline this past Saturday.