Delivering a clear message against war, members of the War Resisters League marched from Ground Zero to the New York Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan on the morning of 3 November.
More than 70 people chose to mark the day after the “election” by voting with their bodies, not just their ballots, to end the war. The group called for the money spent on warfare - now approaching US$200 billion in addition to the annual $440 billion annual military budget - to be spent on schools, jobs, health care and other civilian needs.
Under a heavy police presence, the War Resisters League reclaimed Ground Zero, which the Bush administration has exploited as a justification for war, as a site of mourning and opposition to war and bloodshed.
WRL Spokesperson Ed Hedemann noted that “after the `preemptive' arrests of WRL members on 31 August [during the Republican National Convention] we wanted to reclaim the space for free speech and freedom of assembly”.
From Ground Zero, the group marched to the New York Stock Exchange carrying homemade body bags to call attention to the costs and consequences of war and to condemn those who are profiting from war and destruction.
Seven members of the group were arrested in two separate attempts to blockade the New York Stock Exchange.
While hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 1,100 US soldiers have died, Lockheed Martin, the world's largest military contractor, just reported a surge in profit - up 41% - for the third quarter.
”These companies, which trade on the stock exchange, have so much influence in our government that they are literally `calling the shots' when it comes to our war-making policy,” said WRL intern Deidre Hughes, who was arrested in the blockade. “Sometimes it seems that they have conscripted our troops to effect a corporate takeover of an entire nation.”
Commenting on the recent US elections, organiser Frida Berrigan said, “In a time marked by war and killing, we know that building a world of peace and justice will take more than punching a card or pulling a lever. We are here to recommit ourselves to that work.”