March 19th, 2011 10:30 pm | by NATHAN GILLES News | Posted In: Activism, Politics

War Protest in Downtown Portland

Oregon protestors think the war economy is bankrupting us

war protest march
Carrying signs reading, “Jobs Not War” and “Peace: A Growth Industry,” about 1,000 people gathered Saturday afternoon in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The March 19 date marks the eighth anniversary of U.S. forces invading Iraq. But the protest was as much about jobs as it was anti-war. With the U.S. deficit soaring, the economy limping out of the recession, and national unemployment hovering around 9 percent, the demonstrators identified the culprit for those ills in military spending.

“We spent over a trillion dollars on Afghanistan and Iraq in the last ten years," said Peace and Justice Works co-founder Dan Handleman. "That money could have been spent at home.”

Organized by Peace and Justice Works, the protest included 66 organizations, from anti-war groups such as Iraq Veterans Against the War to labor organizations such as the Service Employees International Union.

One of the Iraq Veterans Against the War demonstrators was Noah Mrowczwnski, a 31-year-old Iraq war vet who says he is lucky to have a job.

He talked about suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which makes him stutter when put under pressure. This makes job interviews difficult. But he got lucky. Mrowczwnski landed a job with Frontier Communications, a company that seeks out veterans and did not require Mrowczwnski to interview. He also earned a college degree since his return, something Mrowczwnski says is rare for returning veterans.

“How’s the war economy working for you?” asks Mrowczwnski.

According to these protesters, the war economy isn’t working for too many people.

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