One of the forefront organizations in NJ that is working to organize a stronger anti-war effort is People's Organization for Progress. At almost every anti-war protest in NJ that has taken place in recent month's, Lawrence Hamm chair of the People's Organization for Progress has played a swivel role in giving quorum to move forward with an event. We usually try to get 3 or 4 people initially to agree to call a protest assuming that they will take responsibility to make sure all the steps are taken to make sure that it is successful in various ways.
It is Lawrence Hamm, on behalf of POP who has delivered, without rental cost, a sophisticated sound systems with very capable community amplification. POP also has a wealth of its trademark signs around almost every important issue out there - including on every aspect of the escalation of US wars and threats. While Chair Hamm, and often Ingrid Hill transports the POP protest infrastructure, sound, signs and other materials, POP also always delivers numbers of participants - it does not just throw its name on the flier. Many of the protests against US wars in recent months have been well attended by the yellow shirt styling POP membership.
Every decision made by Peoples Organization for Progress is vetted at the organization's Thursday General Assembly meetings that occur Every Thursday 6:30 pm, 224 W. Kinney St., Newark NJ. The meetings feature guest speakers, presentations, topical discussions, panels - along with a host of presentations by POP members and guests proposing POP involvement in various initiatives.
NJ Anti War Agenda recently spoke with POP chair Lawrence Hamm. According to Mr. Hamm, The Peoples Organization for Progress (POP) was founded in 1983 and in its constitution, one of the listed “aims and purposes” is to “work for world peace.” Mr. Hamm explains that POP's origins are from the “revolutionary Black nationalist” period when progressive Black nationalists saw the struggle for peace as part of their work – “to people like WEB Dubois, Paul Robeson, and others for whom peace was at the top of the agenda. They always worked for peace and against the threat of nuclear war. There has always been an explicitly anti-imperialist dimension to the revolutionary Black nationalist movement. POP inherits those aspects of the movement. We try to bring the best of the Black liberation movement into the present and future,” he states.
Speaking on the connections between the war at home and US wars abroad, Mr Hamm explains: “As Dr. King pointed out there is a facile relationship between imperialist wars abroad and poverty at home. The latest budget put forward by the Trump administration called for a $54 billion increase in the military spending and a $54 billion decrease in spending on social programs. Martin Luther King said in his speech on the Vietnam war that we drop bombs on Vietnamese children abroad and explode the bombs of poverty at home. In the last 16 years in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq we’ve spent $5 trillion. Imagine what we could have done with $5 trillion at home! How many schools and hospitals could have been saved? How much public housing could have been funded? We could have eliminated homelessness. When all is said and done we have accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan only the destruction of those countries.”
On POP’s future anti-war plans, Mr. Hamm explains:
“We definitely are going to continue to support the work of NJ’s anti-war coalition and NJ Peace Action particularly in opposing war with North Korea which would be disastrous. . . . Beforehand POP had protested on the corner of Broad and Market opposing the US attacks on Syria. . . . We will continue to oppose possible war in Korea, war in Syria, to call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and to oppose unjust imperialist wars abroad. . . . We oppose these wars because they are wrong, we end up supporting dictatorships and opposing progressive governments that don’t agree with US foreign policy.
These wars are disastrous for the people in the countries. We have caused immense suffering and killed 100s of 1000s of children. When not directly involved the US is supporting governments like the Saudis and their adventure in Yemen, committing crimes against humanity. Then we have to help people to understand how using resources for war take away resources from use to meet domestic human needs.”
POP was instrumental in mobilizing massive NJ participation in anti-war protests in NYC and NJ in the early days of the latest (and still ongoing) US war in Iraq. On Iraq, Mr. Hamm states: “10,000 Americans killed in Iraq, millions of Iraqi, many of them children . . . we’ve gained nothing. And the wars were proven to be based upon a lie.”
POP plans to make another focus of its antiwar work, the situation in Libya which Mr. Hamm referred to as something that “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton” have to take responsibility for. “They helped turn a country with the highest standard of living on the African continent according to the UN and it now is a failed state and now Black People are being bought and sold in a slave market in Libya. We’re going to be speaking out about that very shortly . . . We’ll be having something at one of our meetings and probably in the streets.”
Speaking on the subject of Africom, Lawrence states “US troops are all over Africa . . . for geopolitical and economic reasons, due to contention among the great powers, which never ended after World Wars I and II albeit it is perhaps more subdued. In some periods the contention is violent and in other periods it is political – where politics becomes a substitute for warfare. That’s why we see so many US troops all over the world. That’s the underlying cause.
The reasons given (by the US) is that we are going to fight the radical Islamist groups or support democratic movements or oppose dictatorships – those are the political reasons that they give. While they might be engaged in battle with different groups they are there to secure the resources of Africa. . . . One of the reasons Obama had his pivot toward China is because China is a rising economic power and the US is struggling to hold on to the markets they have and to not be pushed out by China in other markets. And that’s what China is doing.
The only card the US holds right now is that it is the dominant superpower and it tries to translate that military might into economic benefit.
The Chinese go in and try to partner with the governments while the US just wants the resources and does not want to give anything in return unless there’s 1000% interest. When the US gives foreign aid it becomes a debt trap .”
Contact and some regularly scheduled calendar items:
General Assembly Meeting Every Thu 6:30 pm, 224 W. Kinney St., Newark NJ
Justice Monday Protest Every Monday, 4:30-6 pm outside Rodino Federal Bldg, 970 Broad St., Newark NJ
Recruitment (Almost) Every Saturday, noon, corner of Broad and Market, Newark, NJ
Several of the recent anti-war protests have occurred at the Martin Luther King Jr. monument on MLK Dr.