Hundreds March in Mag Mile Anti-War Protest

Saturday, Mar 19, 2011  |  Updated 2:53 PM CDT
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Nearly eight years to the day of the start of the war in <a title=Iraq, protestors marched north on Michigan Avenue and held a rally near Water Tower Place." />

Nearly eight years to the day of the start of the war in Iraq, protestors marched north on Michigan Avenue and held a rally near Water Tower Place.

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Nearly eight years to the day of the start of the war in Iraq, protestors marched north on Michigan Avenue and held a rally near Water Tower Place.

Hundreds of people gathered.  Their message: the war is not only unjust but expensive.

"We need money for jobs, not the war.  We need money for schools, not the war.  We need money for health care, not the war," were among the chants heard by the plethora of sign-carrying marchers.

From a press release announcing the march:

    Protesters argue that Illinois' budget deficit could be offset in a matter of weeks with what the U.S. government spends on wars in countries that include Iraq and Afghanistan, besides ending bitterly resented occupations that have created severe hardship for the peoples of the region. They also argue that an unfair tax structure has allowed the nation's largest corporations and banks, which are estimated to be sitting on close to two trillion dollars in cash reserves, and their executives, which have paid themselves billions of dollars in bonuses in the last year alone, to avoid any responsible tax burden while vital services for ordinary Americans are being slashed and millions still are without jobs or struggling to earn enough to pay for basic necessities.

The protest was organized by a group called the March 19 Coalition.  The group said that more than 70 local peace, faith-based, student and community organizations have endorsed Saturday's protest.

The march was also part celebration.  A federal judge this week that Chicago police wrongly arrested hundreds of protesters during a march protesting the war's outbreak in 2003.

"Those arrests and city officials' subsequent chronic obstruction of the right to assemble and march against the war sparked years of struggle for civil liberties by peace activists," read a statement from the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism. "Today, activists feel vindicated -- and have vowed to take that spirit to the streets."

In his ruling, Federal Judge Richard Posner said police acted "without justification" when they arrested about 900 people at a downtown protest on March 20, 2003.

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