Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thousands March for Jobs, Justice, & Peace

By David Sole
Published Sep 1, 2010 6:31 PM

Some 5,000 protesters marched and rallied in downtown Detroit on Aug. 28 demanding jobs, peace and justice. A coalition of unions, community groups and churches, called together by United Auto Workers international union President Bob King and Rainbow/PUSH leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., backed the action.

Workers and the unemployed throughout southeast Michigan were joined by delegations from Cleveland; Chicago; Toledo, Ohio; and other Midwest locations to express their anger and frustration at the economic crisis and social injustice. This was also the first time in anyone’s memory that the largest unions marched against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Union delegations were prominent from the UAW; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, including many city of Detroit workers facing tremendous attacks; Service Employees; and other area unions.

Many community groups participated. Arab and Muslim delegations marched along with Latinos Unidos/United of Michigan. Members of Planned Parenthood, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the Coalition of Labor Union Women were in the streets. Warriors on Wheels, a local disability-rights activist group, led the march just in front of the lead banner carried by the dignitaries.

The official march signs of “Rebuild America: Jobs, Justice, Peace” were supplemented throughout the crowd with hundreds of signs produced by activists from the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice.

Marchers from all over grabbed up these signs, which proclaimed “Jobs Not War!” “We Need a Massive, WPA-style Public Jobs Program Now!” “Money for our Cities, Not for War!” “Moratorium NOW! to Stop Foreclosures!” “Bring the Troops Home Now!” “Overturn Arizona Apartheid, Jobs Not Racism!” and “Bail Out the People, Not the Banks!”

As the thousands of protesters gathered on Detroit’s riverfront, activists from Moratorium NOW! and MECAWI conducted a spirited rally from the back of a pickup truck mounted with a huge loudspeaker.

Fighters against foreclosures called on the crowd to get involved in direct action against evictions and to march on the banks.

Anti-war activists explained how the cost of a jobs program, health care and education for all could be paid for by the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from around the world. A speaker from the immigrant rights struggle urged U.S.-born workers not to be fooled into thinking that immigrants were the problem.

The sound truck then positioned itself in the front of the thousands of marchers and led chants along the entire route. The crowd picked up slogans calling for jobs and education, not war, as well as many other demands.

The closing rally at Grand Circus Park featured mainly prominent religious leaders and politicians. Many urged the militant crowd to vote Democratic in the November elections. But others who were very well received by the people made it clear that waging a struggle is needed. Congressperson Maxine Waters announced, “It’s time to move. It’s time to get up and fight. Banks — we’re coming after you!”

Detroit attorney Vanessa Fluker fired up the crowd with her denunciation of the banks and the federal and state programs supposed to help workers and poor people avoid being foreclosed upon. She called on the crowd to get into the streets to directly stop foreclosures and evictions and announced a Sept. 1 demonstration at Bank of America in downtown Detroit to save the home of Michelle Hart, who was in the crowd.

Workers World Party activists passed out hundreds of leaflets for a Sept. 11 forum featuring Fred Goldstein, author of Low-Wage Capitalism, and the Sept. 18 WWP Midwest conference in Chicago. Six hundred copies of Workers World newspaper were eagerly grabbed up by marchers.

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