Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Why We Protested at Obama’s Speech


On Sunday, February 11th, a group of antiwar students turned out to challenge Barack Obama’s position on Iraq as he held a rally at the UIC Pavilion to kick-start his campaign.

Approximately two dozen antiwar activists from UIC, Northeastern Illinois University and Northwestern University turned out among the crowd of 7,000 Obama supporters to send the message that “antiwar” candidates do not vote to fund war.

The protest included members of the Campus Antiwar Network, Students for Social Justice, the Campus Greens and the International Socialist Organization; many of whom have signed onto the following statement regarding that day’s action:

Currently, Barack Obama is positioning himself as the presidential candidate with antiwar promises; however, he does not stand for immediately removing the troops from Iraq. His plan for redeployment in March 2008 is based on the Iraqi government meeting specific timetables and benchmarks. Given the current situation in Iraqi and the illegitimacy of the U.S. backed Iraqi – timetables and benchmarks are false hopes.

Sixty percent of the U.S. population believes that invading Iraq was wrong and 40% believe we should deny funding for it now. Therefore, we feel it is only fair to demand from Obama antiwar action now — especially given his position as a U.S. Senator.

During the rally, Obama repeated that the war was not authorized in the first place, which brought enthusiastic applause from the crowd, and he critiqued the position of candidates like Sen. Hillary Clinton. While the crowd cheered Obama for talking about the need for healthcare reform within the country we took the opportunity to unfurl an antiwar banner that read “Obama: Stand up! Cut the funding!” and began chanting “Cut the war funding–bring the troops home.” Some in the crowd initially reacted positively; but Obama tried to hush our chant stating, “We’ll get to that later.”

We believe that the lack of funding for healthcare in this country (as witnessed in the recent proposed cuts for Cook County Hospitals) has a direct relation to the war in Iraq that is chewing up $2 billion per week. If we are going to talk about the lack of / cuts to public services we have to talk about the war in Iraq; the two issues are bound together.

Many have felt that we interrupted the rally one to many times. Our plan was to drop the banner and chant once during a pause to make our presence noticed — which we did. But because we were being roughed up and “escorted” out of the pavilion by security we felt it necessary to again make our point. It was then that we started a second chant; “No justice, no peace–U.S. out of the Middle East.”

Later in his speech, Obama acknowledged our concerns. “I’m glad they were there,” he told the crowd. “They feel a sense of urgency about a war that should have never been authorized and a war that should have never been fought.” But Obama added that he doesn’t want to cut funding for the war. “We need to bring this war to an end,” he said, “but we need to do it in a way that makes our troops safe.” In reality, the longer the troops stay in Iraq – the more unsafe they are.

Our action during Obama’s rally was is not an isolated incident. Over the past few weeks there has been a wave on sit-ins at the offices of Representatives and Senators. At the beginning of the month Obama and Dick Durbin’s Washington offices became the subject of a sit-in organized by the Occupation Project. At the sit-in four people were arrested in each office as protestors read off names of dead Iraqis and U.S. Soldiers. In Los Angeles at the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club, Rep. Henry Waxman [D] was confronted by a banner reading “Liberals do not fund occupation.” It is in this spirit of antiwar protest that we preceded. We feel that it is our responsibility as an antiwar movement to hold each elected representative who continues to vote for funding this war responsible for the loss of both Iraqi and U.S. lives under this occupation.

Bring the troops home, not in March 2009, not in March 2008, but NOW!

Lauren Fleer

Drew Heiserman

Bob Quellos

Graham Shaw

Orlando Sepulveda

Raquel Vega

Nadia Sol

Ireri Unzuerta Carrasco


2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future