Jack the dog was pacing restlessly on the front lawn of Old Central High School, testing the length of his leash, paying close attention to the action on the sidewalk below him, catching every movement, and ignoring nothing.
A cold October wind blew on the corner of Lake Ave. and 2nd St. that evening.
Jack had his fur and his discontent to keep him warm. His barking requests for attention and inclusion were occasionally met with ear scratches and head patting, but mostly he was hushed and left to watch his friends greet each other over Styrofoam cups of coffee while sorting through a pile of picket signs. They were setting up for the rally.
Jack was brought to the downtown area of Duluth by members of the Northland Anti-War Coalition, an independent, grassroots regional network of activists opposing the occupation of Iraq and military recruiters in our schools. The coalition had organized and led a rally that took place on October 11, 2010.
The plans for the rally that evening included picketing in front of school district offices with signs that read “Books Not Bombs” and “Jobs Not Wars.”
Spokesperson Carl Sack said the rally was in protest of the criminal, illegal occupation in Afghanistan.
“We feel the government should be using money for housing, food and education instead of throwing trillions overseas,” Sack said just before turning his attention to a news camera and a microphone.
To date $1.09 trillion has been spent on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the National Priorities Project of Massachusetts.
The picketing was followed by a march to city hall. As they marched down 2nd St., the protestors were led in anti-war chants like, “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation,” and, “1-2-3-4, we don’t want your stinking war! 5-6-7-8, keep our taxes in our state!”
Leading the chants were the Rah Rah Revolutionaries, a local chapter of Radical Cheerleaders. “Radical cheerleading started in Florida,” Heather Bradford, a member of the Revolutionaries, said.
Ironically, the idea of Radical Cheerleading is to recreate and redefine cheerleading with chants that promote feminism and left-wing causes. It is used at demonstrations to promote a radical message in a media and people-friendly way.
This movement of girls and guys has spread across the U.S. and into Canada, and has hit Europe as well.
The four members who attended this rally were decked out in red and black, and their energy and enthusiasm spread quickly through the small band of protestors as they marched on.
Joining the rally were six members of the CSS Amnesty International group. Amnesty International is a world-wide human rights organization that started in 1961. In 1977 it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its campaign against torture.
Zeynab and Fatima Alwan, co-presidents of the CSS group, said that war raises human rights issues such as poverty and displacement. “The Taliban shouldn’t be fought for political reasons,” they said.
Once the rally reached the stairs of City Hall, marchers were treated to a handful of ant-war poetry readings and a skit titled “War Pigs.”
Jack the dog was led away by three of his protestor friends prior to the march lowering the grand total of attending activists from 40 to 36. The Alwan sisters emceed the performances on the steps of City Hall.
Poetry was read by Ira Ebert, Jenny Hoffman, Amanda Leppke and Marcelle Jordan, who read her original poem, “The Navajo No.” Ebert, Leppke, and Jordan are Radical Cheerleaders who performed in the skit, “War Pigs,” which dropped the number of concerned citizens in the audience to receive the message to around 30.
Too bad they didn’t let Jack stick around.