September 15, 2011
Fight Back! interviews Joe Iosbaker, the Chicago spokesperson for the United Anti War Coalition, on the protests that will coincide with the NATO/G8 Summit that is scheduled for May, 2012.
Joe Iosbaker: The summit of NATO/G8 will be a meeting of the world’s worst generals and biggest bankers together in a U.S. city for the first time in history. For ten years, the U.S. NATO have waged war on Afghanistan, killing tens of thousands. There is growing opposition here to that war.
On top of this, the U.S. and European bankers are responsible for the economic mess that the world is in. In Chicago, working people are under attack by the rich. The new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, is closing schools and laying-off hundreds of workers because of a budget crisis. We can’t stop housing foreclosures, we can’t find jobs for the unemployed, yet we can afford to host this summit, which will cost the city tens of millions of dollars. It’s disgraceful. There has to be an outcry by the anti-war movement and the people of Chicago, as well as folks across the country and internationally.
Fight Back!: Tell us about the Aug. 28 conference and what is planned for the summit.
Iosbaker: The meeting was inspiring. 200 people were there and everyone felt the same: the anti-war movement was coming together with labor and communities in struggle to plan this historic protest. One of the speakers was Meredith Aby, who helped lead the largest anti-war protest in the history of the Midwest – the march on the Republican National Convention in 2008. Meredith is one of us whose home was raided by the FBI one year ago. The Department of Justice investigation against anti-war activists began at the protest against the RNC. But we refuse to be intimidated or silent while our government wages these unjust wars; we’re going to march against NATO and the G8.
There were leaders from the Puerto Rican, Black, Arab and Muslim communities, including Malik Mujahid of the Muslim Peace Coalition; Alejandro Molina of the Boricua Human Rights Network; and Mark Clement, who spent over 20 years in prison after being tortured by a Chicago Police officer. Alex Han, a leader in the labor union-backed group, Stand Up Chicago was there as well. They all want what the anti-war movement wants: Jobs, housing, healthcare, education, pensions and the environment: Not war. They want justice. We agreed to form a coalition, both locally and nationally, to bring the broadest forces together to march, not once, but twice against NATO and the G8. We will march on the opening day of the summit, Tuesday, May 15, 2012. Then we’ll assemble for an even larger protest on Saturday, May 19.
There are also plans for an educational counter-summit, to put forward a vision for a different world, where war is done away with. That world would not have governments inflict pain on the poor and workers. The word that the bankers use is “austerity.” A person who is austere is stern or cold to other people. A government that practices austerity takes food out of the mouths of the children of the poor, in order that corporations make enough profit to keep their
Fight Back!: What are the Chicago Principles?
Iosbaker: There are many forces that oppose war and oppression. The largest number of us will organize a permitted march: We are demanding that the city of Chicago give us a permit to march to the McCormick Place, the likely location of the summit. Some who protest will risk arrest in order to make a stronger statement against the masters of war and austerity. The Chicago Principles adopted by our coalition are a statement that we will keep our debates with other political forces internal to our movement. We will not allow the Chicago Police Department or the FBI to defeat the solidarity that exists between us. Everyone who protests NATO and the G8 is on the same side.
Fight Back!: How can people get involved in building these two protests?
Iosbaker: Fight Back! readers can write to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out who in your area is organizing. You should also plan to attend the protest in your city on the tenth anniversary of the US/NATO war in Afghanistan. In your union, community group, or student organization, start planning to come out in May, 2012 to march with us. Soon we will have a website and email listserv, leaflets and local meetings to help make plans.