Report on the March 21 Protest in Duluth

[by Adam Ritscher]

On Saturday, March 21, the Northland Anti-War Coalition in Duluth, MN held a march and rally to mark the sixth anniversary of the unjust U.S. invasion of Iraq. The protest also drew attention to the need to oppose the occupation of Afghanistan and Palestine, and called for an end to the JROTC programs in the Duluth Public Schools.

All told, just under 100 people participated in the event. The protest began at noon at the MN Power Plaza. From there the protesters marched up to the Duluth Public School District offices where Joel Kilgour gave a speech about the need to oppose JROTC [Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps] programs and military recruiters in the schools. Recently, as a result of the budget crisis, the Duluth Schools had voted to cut the JROTC program, but has since voted to reverse itself and keep it. NAWC is opposed to any presence by the military in our schools.

After Kilgour’s speech, and some chanting in front of the School offices, the march proceeded to the steps of City Hall, where the main rally was held. Bob Kosuth of NAWC was the rally MC. Speaking was Deb Taylor of the MN Peacemakers, Brandon Clokey of the Duluth Fathering Project, Carl Sack of Socialist Action & Northwoods for Mumia, Steve Wick of Students for Peace at the Univ. of MN-Duluth, Josie from the Amnesty International chapter at the College of St. Scholastica and Paige Moroney of the Indigenous Student Alliance. During the rally the Veterans for Peace float was parked at the rally site as a dramatic back drop to the whole affair.

After the speakers, a skit was performed called “Uncle Sam Goes to Baghdad” which highlighted the injustices of the U.S. invasion, and our need to keep up the fight against the war.

Overall, while the turnout of the protest was modest, it was a very spirited and high energy affair. The crowd was a diverse one, representing a variety of groups and demographics from across the region. The protest received a broad range of endorsements, including Veterans for Peace Chapter 80, UMD Students for Peace, CSS Amnesty International, Grandmothers for Peace, Women in Black, Socialist Action, Lake Superior Greens, Community of the Third Way, Peace North, Duluth Fathering Project, North Star Replublic, Duluth Unitarian Peace & Justice Committee, Every Church a Church of Peace and the Duluth Free Speech corner. We also received a fair amount of press coverage, both before and after the rally. Leading up the protest the rally was plugged in TWO issues of Labor World newspaper, the Zenith, the Transistor and the Hillsider. At the protest itself reporters from the Duluth News Tribune, the Reader Weekly, the Hillsider, and TV Channels 3 & 6.