Thursday, February 8, 2018

#NJAntiWarAgenda: A Broad Spectrum at Inaugural Monthly Newark Protests

In case you have not heard, the People's Organization for Progress and #NJAntiWarAgenda have initiated a monthly series of antiwar protests that are now occurring – with sound permit – the first Saturday of each month at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monument on MLK Boulevard near Old Records Hall from 11 – 1pm.  The next such event is entitled “March withWomen Against War” – in honor of Women’s History Month and tapping in to the growing women’s engagement in protest as witnessed at the recent Woman’s marches around the US and world - is scheduled for March 3.  These monthly events are more than just a series of protests, they represent an organizing project to develop a solid anti-war block and stronger anti-war agenda, not just in Newark but throughout the state and region.

The inaugural event on February 3 started with wind chill temps in the teens.  That did not stop participants from numerous organizations and constituencies from presenting what is on their “Anti War Agenda.”

The initial event drew support from the following organizations that are co-sponsoring these monthly events, in addition to the initiators #NJAntiWarAgenda and Peoples Organization for Progress:

NJ Peace ActionGreen Party of New JerseySocialist Party USA of NJ,IndustrialUnion Council of New JerseyUnion County Peace Council and Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine.

[ In the future we hope to do a better job at engaging the NJ Philippine Solidarity Committee and Puerto Rico and immigrant solidarity groups as well as other constituencies.]

Organizers are encouraging NJ organizations and institutions to hammer out their own anti-war agenda and to decide on and announce support for the monthly events and to begin the process of mobilizing for the monthly events going forward.  For more information, call or text 908-881-5275.

Details from the February 3 event including pictures, links to some of the presentations follow.  Highlighting some of the tasks before us to continue to improve the effectiveness of this organizing effort:

Next Steps

All out support for the March With Women Against War, March 3, 2018.  To get involved, join the Facebook event  and contact Teka Lark

Get an assessment from each organizational partner as to their ability to mobilize for each event – how many they can dedicate to participate regularly.  What other steps can they take to mobilize against war in their geographical reaches.  What are some of the challenges they are having to participating and what steps can be taken to address those issues?  What assistance could help the organizations to promote more effective participation.

Develop a weekly schedule of activities that promote greater participation in organizing support for the monthly events and other activities.

A letter will be sent to numerous NJ organizations inviting them to freshen up their anti-war positions and to become participants in and endorsers of the monthly events.

We need to set up discussions around the state including on campuses, in high schools and public libraries, and to encourage the initiation of other protest events.

Those interested in becoming part of building a stronger NJ Antiwar Agenda should call or text 908-881-5275, write to .  Visit  for more information.

February 3 Details

Advanced publicity of the event was provided by this blog article and this news article.

The Monthly Events are an Organizing Project

The event was kicked off by my introductory remarks in which I provided a framework for this monthly event.  The intention is not for it to be a monthly “pop up” protest where we show up once a month, hold signs, chant and listen to each other make speeches.  The purpose is for this to be an organizing drive with the goal of reaching out and engaging the area communities in at least a quarter mile radius from the protest site.  The goal is for us to work the communities in between events to explain the purpose of the events to residents, students, working people, organizations, businesses and religious institutions. 

Within the blocks around the site of the events there are 3 colleges, Essex County, Rutgers Newark and NJIT and 4 high schools, St. Benedicts Prep, Newark Arts, Newark Science and Newark Tech high schools.  There are mosques and churches, barber and beauty shops, restaurants, all apt for our outreach work.  It is not the most important thing that we draw local residents into actual participation – though we DO need to develop ways that they can take an initial step in that direction – but that we are in communication with everyone in explaining the reasons for the protest and how it is important for the world but also for the Newark community.  Through those communications we should also be learning FROM the residents about the day-to-day struggles of Newark life.

Our plans are to reach out to all of these constituents.  We are hoping to get out to the community between events with the banners and to provide opportunities for passers by to do snap-protests by holding or getting behind the banner and allowing themselves to be photographed – with our camera and possibly with their own phones so that they can post it on their own networks.  Also we would like to do some literature distribution to area housing. 

Also the events will not always be just speakers – we will be presenting performance artists.  We might at the start of our events, send some participants out to areas of the community to invite folks to come back at noon for a larger mass showing.  We could also invite those who can not make it to the events to call in to a local pizza shop (Vinnie's Italian Gourmet ) for delivery at 1pm to the site. That will enable us to reward participants with a delicious bite or two.

The most important objective is that local residents are invited to gain an understanding of the reason for our protest, that they are welcome to join us and that we are engaging in a dialogue so that we can understand exactly how the US wars abroad are devastating communities like Newark NJ.

War at Home / March with Women - Teka Lark

After my introductory commentary, Teka Lark spoke specifically on how the war at home is devastating communities like Newark and the people of Puerto Rico.  Teka is currently playing the role as coordinator of March’s event which will occur on Saturday, March 3, 11am at the Newark MLK Monument.  The event is entitled “March with Women Against War” in line with March being Women’s History Month. 

Teka opened by acknowledging the successful collaboration that has gone into the #NJAntiWarAgenda organizing drive and she offered some critique of the antiwar movement being able to recognize the horrors of war abroad but to turn away from the impact these policies have under our own eyes and feet on NJ’s streets.  View Teka’s presentation.

Endless Wars, Nuclear Threat, Madelyn Hoffman NJ Peace Action

Madelyn Hoffman, Director of NJ Peace Action, spoke about the increased dangers of war and the possible use of nuclear weapons, citing Henry Kissinger’s recent statement that “a first strike against North Korea was very tempting.” In addition, in his recent State of the Union address, Mr. Trump spoke about asking for yet another military budget plus $28 billion for a wall we don’t need – for a total of $45 billion in 2019, money taken away from those programs that communities need. At the same time, the U.S. maintains a huge network of military bases around the world while during the coldest weather in January, school children in Baltimore sat in their classrooms in their jackets, hats and scarves, because there wasn’t enough money to provide them with heat.  Madelyn Hoffman spoke about the need to support diplomacy, not war – in the form of protecting the Iran Deal and for a continuation of the Olympic Truce between the U.S. and South Korea for cessation of military exercises on the Korean peninsula, freeing up money spent on war for domestic programs.

Honduras Electoral Fraud / Street Repression Rosa Estefany Caceras-Santana

The next speaker was Rosa Estefany Caceras-Santana who detailed the role of the US in supporting coups, electoral fraud and violent repression in Honduras.  She called upon NJ to play a greater role in supporting her people by demanding US to stop providing weapons, military and security support to the repressive and illegitimate Honduran government.  She also condemned the scaling back of TPS protections for Hondurans and others.  To get involved in efforts to organize solidarity with the Honduran people, you can join this Facebook group  We are hoping to put together a discussion soon in NJ around the issue of Honduras.

Haiti - Jessica Latonelle 

Next up was Jessica Latonelle who represented a Haitian perspective on world events.  Jessica had recently spoken out at a Haiti solidarity rally. She was quoted in a news article in response to the recent derogatory remarks by Trump toward the nation of Haiti.   She offered her response to these put downs from the US government and called upon us to support Haitian immigrants and the extension of TPS for Haitians, Salvadoreans and others.  Jessica has a blog site and you can read a written version of her comments at this link . 

Iran / Yemen - Nima Rezael

Next Nima Rezael offered his antiwar agenda on the situation in Iran and Yemen.  He spoke of the media misrepresentation of the recent protests in Iran – and instead of talking about what the people concerns are – basically the same economic concerns that the US working class has – a small minority were used to misrepresent the protests and to promote a phony call for regime change.  He also spoke of the horrendous situation in Yemen propagated by US support for the Saudi war and blockade. He pointed out how technology used by the Saudi regime to deny food and medicines to the literally starving Yemeni people is manufactured by the Lockheed Martin plant based in Moorestown NJ.  Here is a link to a video of Nima’s presentation .

Solidarity - Javier Vaca, Green Party NJ

Javier Vaca representing NJ Green Party kept it brief.  He referenced the comments of several of the other speakers.  He pledged his own commitment and the commitment of the NJ Green Party to mobilize for and attend each and every monthly First Saturday antiwar protest at the Newark MLK Monument going forward.

Palestine - Mohamad Habehh and Wassim Janaan 

Speaking on the topics related to the US support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Mohamad Habehh of Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine and Wassim Kanaan of NJ Muslims for Palestine each highlighted various ways that the occupation and US support for it contributes to death and suffering of the Palestinian people.  They called upon the anti war movement to demand an end to US military aid to Israel, to rescind the decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, to end the US supported Israeli bombing and occupation of Gaza and to free the teenage women Ahed Tamimi and 100s of other Palestinian children being held for the crime of protesting against the Israeli occupation.  They also registered people to take action to support HR 4391 for Palestinian children and for participation for the Palestine Advocacy Days in Washington DC March 16 – 19  .

AFRICOM, War at Home, Personal Responsibility for Ending War - Lisa Davis

Lisa Davis representing Black is Black Coalition and People's Organization for Progress provided a condemnation of US military policy in Africa, including the US role in the destruction of Libya.  She stated that the US people are complicit in the actions of the US government abroad for not taking adequate action to stop US warfare.  She called for the antiwar movement to oppose US military “recolonization” of Africa under the guise of AFRICOM which as she quoted, has the specific objective of securing Africa’s natural resources for capitalist exploitation.  For more on efforts to oppose the US military occupation of Africa:

Resist Deportation Machine - Jay Arena

Jay Arena spoke on the efforts of the Resist the Deportation Machine to challenge the Essex County Freeholders acceptance of federal funds for the purpose of detaining immigrants at the Essex County Jail on Doremus Avenue.  He called for unity between anti-war and immigrant advocates around the demand to shut down this level of collaboration with the current anti-immigrant crackdown, especially in light of Newark's declaration as a sanctuary city.

War Effects on Newark, Imperative to Struggle for Disarmament - Lawrence Hamm

POP chair Lawrence Hamm reiterated the connections between US wars abroad and oppressive conditions in Newark and throughout the United States.  He also stressed the dangers of nuclear war, acknowledging that the antiwar movement has gotten away from focusing on the threat of nuclear war.  He warned that any US attack on Korea would likely be answered by a counter attack by China and Russia - a blueprint for global thermonuclear war.

Union County Peace Council - Diane Beeny

Next up was Diane Beeny of the Union County Peace Council.  She further emphasized the nuclear threat and also called attention to the existential threat of climate change.

#NJAntiWarAgenda Paper Distribution

As will be a standard feature at these events, about 100 issues of #NJAntiWarAgenda were shared with vehicle drivers and passengers and pedestrians that came by during the event.  To become a distributor (possible fundraising opportunity for your organizing endeavors) - contact 908-881-5275.  PDF of paper is here.

After the event concluded, several of us headed to Vinnies Italian Gourmet for delicious pizza and for social interaction and discussions of continuing this organizing project forward.

No comments:

Post a Comment