“War is an enemy of the poor”: US activists honor the anti-war legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. : Peoples Dispatch

Claudia De La Cruz of the People’s Forum speaks to a crowd outside the US Army recruiting station in Times Square

“We are here to carry on the legacy of Dr. Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.,” People’s Forum Co-Executive Director Claudia De La Cruz told hundreds of people gathered in Times Square in front of the US Army Recruitment Station on Jan. 14 . “We are here to reclaim his legacy and say no to war.”

Organizers and workers mobilized to demand an end to NATO and a peaceful solution to the ongoing war in Ukraine. The rally and march were organized by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, a US anti-war organization, and the People’s Forum. Activists raised slogans to call for a peaceful solution to the war through negotiations rather than continuing US arms financing. Banners read “Money for our Needs/Not the War Machine” and “No to NATO/Yes to Peace”.

With congress pass a massive spending bill in December, containing over $44 billion in US aid to Ukraine, the United States will now spend a total of over $100 billion on the Russia-Ukraine war. Activists are demanding that those billions instead be used to fund public services like education, jobs and health care.

“We know that we live in a city and in a country with a massive housing shortage. millions of people [are] fighting to make it every day.” Journalist Eugene Puryear told the crowd. That’s according to a recent Bankrate survey 56% of people in the US couldn’t cover a $1,000 expense without diving into savings. “The Biden administration just increased the housing budget by a little 12 billion dollars. And her too cut from the household: money for seniors who need affordable housing,” Puryear continued.

“Not a penny more for the war!” demanded Puryear. “And a full offensive for peace and to change this imperialist course of war that will destroy the planet if we don’t stand up and say something now.”

De La Cruz also emphasized the effects of the war on the working class. “Knowing who our enemy is is important. War is an enemy of the poor,” she said.

Boston-based organizer Rachel Domond spoke to the crowd about recent events police murder by 20-year-old Sayed Faisal in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “We’re out here to oppose the war abroad, right? But we are also at home here to oppose the war,” Domond said. “The city and the police department will do everything possible to protect their own … we don’t even know the name of the officer who murdered our parishioner in broad daylight.”

“Peace is the right to live without fear. It is the right to move safely in our lives in our communities. It’s the right to know that we can get help when we need it,” Domond said. 2022, US Police murdered more people than any other year in recorded history. “This country knows no justice. I mean how could it? When it spends more money on the military and weapons than it does on basic social services.”

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16, speakers recognized Martin Luther King Jr.’s lesser-known legacy as an anti-war activist. King agitated against the US invasion of Vietnam, declaring in 1967 that the United States government was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Since war broke out in Ukraine in February 2022, the United States has pumped billions of dollars in weapons into the Russia-Ukraine war, a war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives to war violence and countless others hunger and poverty due to global Cost of Living Crisis because of the war.

The march from Times Square ended in a learn at the Peoples Forum, a few blocks south. Hundreds gathered in the room to hear a discussion between De La Cruz, Puryear and Brian Becker, executive director of the ANSWER Coalition, on the urgent need to reactivate the anti-war movement in the US.

“We must continue to fight for integration, cooperation and negotiations, because this is the only way to resolve conflicts. War is a tool of our enemy,” De La Cruz concluded before the crowd gathered at the People’s Forum. “The only legitimate war is the class struggle.”

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