Guest-authored by Judy B & Claire B; photos courtesy of Ben Droz and Joseph Huff-Hannon.
Funk that, get off it! This war is for profit!
On Friday, March 19th, the Iraq War’s 7th birthday, we gathered with over 350 students and activists from around the country at Farragut Square, decked out as cheating politicians and Lady Gaga look-alikes. We started a massive street dance party to protest the Obama administration’s continuation of the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia and the unchecked environmental damage caused by war profiteers. “Congress and the Obama administration are cheating on young people with the corporate criminals and war-makers who are wrecking our future. We’re caught in a Bad Romance,” explained Howard University student activist Brian Menifee.
No System but the Sound System!
Two bumping speakers and a mobile sound system blasting dance music brought the funk for this sunny day street party against the empire. We started the party in the middle of Farragut Square with throngs of energetic, flag-waving young students and activists. Reporters from news networks like NBC, CNN, and ABC showed up with cameras and microphones, asking to speak with organizers and involved students. Then we took to K street carrying homemade banners and signs that read “Drop Coal, not Bombs!” and “Refuse, Rethink, Rebuild.”
Who's Streets? Our Streets!
At our first stop, we delivered a heartfelt breakup message to the American Enterprise Institute. Funking our way to a second stop, the Armed Forces Recruiting Center, an anonymous paint-filled projectile soared through the air and smashed against the AFRC window, plastering it with yellow paint (and yielding one arrest). The energy was still high, folks still kicking up their dancing shoes, except at this point the police attempted to keep us on the sidewalks and out of the streets by flanking our crowd on either side.
We stopped by the Chamber of Commerce and delivered another break-up letter in chanting sing-song. From there we kept shaking out booties across town until we reached the Department of Treasury on 15th and G Street. After stopping in front of the building and making a few respectful comments, we feigned a walk-away and starting retreating. While the throngs of cops were distracted by the turn-around, two brave funketeers scaled the first floor of the Treasury and raised a banner that read “End the Wars, Fund our Future”. The cops did a double-take and waited a few minutes before racing up to arrest these two protestors, the crowd angrily chanting “Let them go! Let them go!” (though the police didn’t comply).
A group of students linked arms and sat down together, refusing to move from the steps of the Treasury. The rest of the crowd sat down with them and held the space in observance of those arrested. At this point, obscene numbers of cops had showed up to oppress our right to assemble and protest nonviolently. They actually arrested a couple of folks who stepped off the curb into the street. The funketeers entertained the throngs of “justice enforcers” by orchestrating a funky soul train on the sidewalk.
From there we made our way back to the Peace of the Action Camp, where Food Not Bombs delivered yummy grub and we gave each other hugs and backrubs. A total of 8 people were arrested today, so we convened to figure out how to support them. Most of them are being released tonight.
This is what Democracy looks like!
At the end of the day, Funk the War brought student groups together from the DC area and around the US. The protest was a funk-filled action to re-establish radical infrastructure in DC and re-energize young activists.
Even though the action today felt like its own epic story, it’s really just the beginning of a collaborative radical resistance to empire.
When you're going to a fancy party, you've got to ask yourself...
WHAT TO WEAR?!
We're calling Obama and Congress out for cheating on the youth with war-profiteering, climate-destroying corporations. On March 19th, we're gonna catch them with their pants down and speak our minds: "End the War on Terror and commit to our future, or it's over!"
There will be prizes for the best costumes, group costumes, and best Gaga look-alike. We'll be doing a street runway show too if enough people get dressed up.
Costuming ideas (group costumes with props are even better):
-- business suits or military officer's attire with lipstick-stained collars, hickeys, sex hair
-- congress/white house love motel staff/housekeepers
-- supreme court sell-outs
-- burlesque everything! lingerie, playful bdsm scenes, etc.
-- glam & funk attire
-- lady gaga costumes
-- your wildest imaginings...
NOTE: We are not down with re-creating scenes of domestic violence or sexual exploitation. Hell yeah, this is gonna be controversial, that's how you get attention and move things forward. We know we are creative enough to do this without falling back on shock-value violence. We're trying to make the point that the government is cheating on the people, not playing off oppressive stereotypes the way the Tea Party movement does.
Weather and Safety:
-- be prepared for the elements (spring rain? and pray for clear skies), layers
-- sunscreen for burnable people
-- comfortable footwear (shoes/boots you've already broken in)... sandals/open-toes not recommended
-- glasses are safer than contacts in the unlikely case that the police use chemical weapons
-- bring water, power snacks
HOW TO PREPARE:
Aside from picking out a fly costume, we've got a few pointers...
Make plans with friends: the most effective actions are a collaboration of small groups that have their own plans working together, rather than a herd of people awaiting orders from the leadership.
-- write some fun chants
-- write/re-write a song and bring lyrics to hand out
-- bring drums, other instruments
-- plan out a choreographed dance
-- plan a skit
-- bring props, puppets, etc.
-- bring party favors, games (twister?, double-dutch?, spin the bottle?), etc.
Be nice to your body: rest well this week, stretch, exercise a bit, and do whatever it takes to get yourself grounded. We need level heads in the street.
Obama's recession empire and the rest of us
[Lady Gaga's song, Bad Romance, is a subversive feminist critique equating her relationship with record industry execs to an abusive relationship. The song speaks universally to young peoples' relationship with the CEOs and politicians who exploit and abuse us.]
In 2008, Obama seduced the world with “hope” and promises of a clean break from Bush's abuses. Now Obama is fielding 30,000 soldiers and more than 50,000 corporate mercenaries to expand the assault on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over 130,000 troops and 130,000 mercenaries remain in Iraq. Without mutiny in the ranks and pressure from mass resistance at home, Obama's word on exit strategy is as good as his promise to close Guantanamo by January22—worthless.
In 2003, Bush bombed his way into Iraq, letting schools and libraries burn while troops secured the oil ministry. He occupied Iraq and Afghanistan for so long that the military implemented “stop-loss” to force soldiers to work past the end of their contracts. The war budget bankrupted the country. Young people were among the hardest hit at home on the battlefield and at home. Deteriorating public schools were neglected while college tuition skyrocketed and jobs grew scarce. Many youth turned to the military for college money and sham job training, only to be stop-lossed and traumatized by the horrors of war. It's Obama's war now and little has changed.
No doubt, Obama inherited a wrecked economy and the War on Terror. But he's turned his back on the change he convinced so many to believe in.
Obama is continuing Bush's policy of corporate resource imperialism in the Middle East and Central Asia, subsidizing the worst polluters while they drag the youth of the world into a future of endless wars and climate chaos. The $708 billion 2010 war budget is enough to fund nationwide free college education or to fund adaptation to the climate crisis in the Global South: droughts in Sub-Saharan Africa, Hurricane Katrina-style threats to Island nations. Military industry, fossil fuel companies, and bankers are thriving while the rest of us suffer the worst recession since the 1930s.
The recession is killing young people's prospects and military recruiters are circling like vultures. In the US, youth unemployment is at a record high 50%, with twice as many black youth as white youth unemployed. No options means a racist poverty draft. That's how recruiters are surpassing their quotas for the first time since the Viet Nam War. The only other time they came close to today's numbers was during the recession of the early 1980s.
Many US soldiers are trapped in the War on Terror and see no way
out other than suicide. 160 in 2009, and 140 in 2008 took their own lives rather than kill for empire. The War on Terror has cost over 5300 US soldier's lives and over a million Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis. But there is hope in work of Courage to Resist and Iraq Veterans Against the War, groups encouraging war resistance and defending the many soldiers who refuse to fight. It is our responsibility to match their courage with strategic resistance on campus and on the street until we stop this bad romance.
We'll see you in the Streets on March 19th and in the news as youth & student resistance builds in 2010.
Funk the War 9: Bad Romance
Student power against Obama's recession empire
Funk the War, light the bed on fire, and break free from this bad romance!
Washington, DC. March 19, the 7th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.
Student mutiny against the War on Terror: Fund Education, Not War & Occupation.
Obama's got us singing like Lady Gaga, “I want your love and all your lover's revenge.” Thousands of anti-war youth fell in love with Obama and dropped everything to build his campaign. He seduced us with promises of hope and change from Bush's abuses, all the while refusing to give up his lust for the War on Terror.
We've been together a while now and Obama keeps expanding the War on Terror in the Middle East and Central Asia. He's taking advantage of record youth unemployment and skyrocketing college costs to drag young people into a war we've got nothing to gain from. More soldiers trapped in the War on Terror are committing suicide than ever before. Obama, “Baby, you're sick.”
March 19th is the 7th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and the occupation's going strong. It's time to Funk the War, light the bed on fire, and break free from this bad romance.
“Walk, walk, fashion baby, work it!” DC SDS is calling for a massive student power dance party against empire to disrupt the corporate-political war machine in streets of the capital city. We refuse to let another year of war in Iraq and war on our youth pass by without resistance. Join us in the streets and help build an unstoppable student & youth anti-war movement in 2010.
Assemble your crew, practice your moves, and throw on them dancing shoes. We'll be hosting anti-imperialist education events, direct action trainings, dance floor mayhem, and smaller actions in the lead up to March 19th. Get in touch if you'd like to attend or host an event or if we can help support your resistance efforts: strategic planning, action trainings, logistical support, we'd love to help. We'll see you in the streets.
Upcoming events in Washington, DC:
* January 29: Funk the Warming – Down with the Fossil Hawks
* February 13: Funk the War 9 Consulta & Bad Romance Weekend
Consulta @ 4pm, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
* March 19: Funk the War: Bad Romance
* March 20: Mass march against the war; Funk the War post-action meet-up
visit us on the interwebs at dc-sds.org
phone: Sam 202-436-2075; Rachel 609-529-6415
Flyer handed out on the day of - 4.25"x11"
Funk the War Press sweep: we scour the interbutts so you don't have to. But if you did, leave a link in the comments!
Protesters Mark 8 Years of War in Afghanistan - Washington Post (When we got within a 10 block radius of the Washington Post building, they pulled down the security gate in front of their doors, and put riot police in front of the shutters. Feeling a little bit of chickenhawk guilt there, WaPo? You suckaz weren't even on our list.)
Jake Mayday RVA's Flickr
Washington Post for some reason has our picture in this article
Seeing Aspects' Flickr
Demotix people's news
PHOTOS: FUNK THE WAR - Brightest Young Things!
Protest Marks Afghan War Anniversary - Fox News
Recruiter painted, Blackwater lobbyist STORMED!
DC-SDS Funk the War 8: Afghanistan 8th Anniversary Tour - Alex Lotorto!
Funk the War storms Blackwater lobbyists after recruiter gets paint job - DC Indymedia
Recruiter painted up, Blackwater lobbyist STORMED - DC Direct Action News
D.C. Students For Democratic Society Protest 8-year Afghan Conflict - WAMU
Hi-fives to whoever did this:
Military Recruiting Office Vandalized - Fox 5 News
White House, Pentagon Struggle Refine AfPak Strategy News Channel 8
D.C. Chapter Alert: 14th and L St. Recruiting Center Targeted By SDS, Wed. Oct. 7, 2009 (Complete failure, not a single one of them showed up. Also, someone got to that recruiting station before we did, so double FAIL.)
Small Protest Against U.S. Involvement in Afghanistan Moving Through Downtown - Our perennial yuppie haters!
Video: Quiet US demo speaks volumes - Al Jazeera (This is how the press works: They come to your action with a preconceived story (or perhaps the story half-written at the office). Then when they are presented with another story (100 local kids come out for the first student-run protest specifically against the war in Afghanistan, a war that is being fed to the population as the "good war" of the "peace candidate"), they look around for evidence that they can continue writing that preconceived story. When they interview five excited kids who want to talk about the reason they are protesting, and then they net one kid who they dupe into talking about the reason there aren't other people there (HOW THE FUCK SHOULD HE KNOW? HE SHOWED UP!), they throw out the other footage, and soldier on with their pre-written story. A news story is only as positive as the writer and the worst interview.)
As you can see on your left, the Upcoming Events calendar for DC SDS now includes events from the Black August Planning Organization.
DC SDS summer school ran out of summer before we were able to hold classes on Black Liberation struggle!
Thankfully, for years an organization has been organizing popular education events about this topic, often bringing exciting speakers and teaching us all a lot about the struggle for the liberation of black people in the United States, about the prison-industrial concepts, and reminding us that we have comrades behind bars that we cannot in good conscience forget.
Take some time to check out these events as they come up in August. We know you won't be disappointed...
May 1st, 9PM. @ the corner of Morton & Georgia Ave. NW
Half-sheet Flyer in English and Spanish