The Chicago Committee Against War & Racism ( CCAWR ) held a press conference July 24 at the General John Logan Statue in Grant Park to announce an upcoming protest against war and police violence.
The Aug. 25 protest will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the now infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It will take place at noon in Richard J. Daley Plaza and move through the city to the Logan Statue, the site of the most notable protest during the convention.
CCAWR recently reformed after being dormant for several years. The group previously organized the 10,000 person march on Lake Shore Drive at the start of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Among the speakers were CCAWR member Andy Thayer, Voices for Creative Non-Violence member Kathy Kelly, Chicago Veterans for Peace Deputy Coordinator Natasha Erskine, La Voz de los de Abajo member and Honduras Solidarity Network in North America Co-Coordinator Vicki Cervantes, Marine Corps Iraq War veteran Vincent Emanuele and Illinois Green Party Co-Chair and CCAWR Founder Rich Whitney.
Thayer spoke about the origins of CCAWR and the parallels between the Vietnam War era and today including the police response to protests and how then Mayor Richard J. Daley and current Mayor Rahm Emanuel respond to progressive movements.
"We are living in a city that is reeling from the violence of police officers and a country where our resources that could be helping the people are deprived because we are spending as much on war as almost the rest of the world combined," said Thayer.
Kelly, who has spent much of her life fighting on behalf of non-violent causes, said that on her recent trip to Afghanistan the people there told her they did not want American soldiers to be sent to their country anymore.
Erskine said she is a 20-year Air Force veteran and Chicago Public School ( CPS ) mother who wants to see JROTC programs removed from the mostly Black and Latinx population CPS high schools because she was recruited out of that program into the military. She said this program is detrimental to minority students. Erskine also spoke about the militarization on the home front in police departments across the country.
Cervantes said the current refugee crisis on the southern border is directly related to the U.S. government's intervention into the political process with military force across South and Central America and Mexico for many years.
Emanuele spoke about America's continued bombing of seven countries since 9/11Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria and Somalia. He said that what then President Bush started was expanded into other countries with increased drone strikes by then-President Obama and it shows no sign of ending with President Trump, who has spoken out against both North Korea and Iran in recent months. Emanuele added that these actions are a part of a larger problem: empire building and militarism.
Whitney explained that this upcoming CCAWR protest will carry on the message that the protests 50 years ago began. He said these current wars and bombing campaigns are illegal according to the Kellogg-Briand Pack, the Nuremberg Charter and the United Nations Charter. Whitney said these wars are an attack against the working class because they divert funds from programs that would help them and instead are funneled into military spending.
Thayer said the protests in 1968 were a watershed moment because it convinced the anti-war movement that neither major party would bring about peace, the people would have to rely on their own efforts to stop the Vietnam War, adding that this is also true today.