"America, I don't know what to do with you anymore," said Jeremy Shenk, reading a poem at an Oct. 26 demonstration to mark the 2,000th American soldier killed in the Iraq War the day before. "You've broken my heart too many times ... We're breakin' up. But I won't leave you alone. I'm going to be on of those annoying ex-partners ..."
Shenk was one of the organizers of the event, which doubled as a protest against local military recruitment, following a silent vigil and a reading of the names of Pennsylvania's 103 war dead.
"One was too many to die," Shenk told the crowd of about 50, gathered outside the main branch of the Carnegie Library in Oakland. "We've had 2,000 -- and countless Iraqis."
Leaders of the protest, set by Pittsburgh Organizing Group, seemed to see the day as a turning point for protesters. Although the anti-war movement in Pittsburgh had its largest protest gathering in decades in January 2003, before the Iraq War started, protest leader Alex Bradley told the gathering that "it wasn't enough, when we're honest with ourselves. Now we know it." He pointed to the counter-recruitment movement as one of protesters' few options for directly affecting the war effort, and asked the crowd to increase their efforts.
"If you're just as comfortable as you were before," he said, "you're not doing enough."
"We need to do more to get our voices heard ... turn our words of dissent into actions of resistance," added De'Anna Caligiuri, one of three arrestees from the Aug. 20 confrontation with police in Oakland to turn out for the Oct. 26 rally.
The group concluded by marching to several recruitment sites in Oakland, including a relatively new target for the group -- a Marine recruiting station on Meyran Avenue -- shadowed by a handful of city police on motorcycles and in cars.
"There are people saying ... that we're using these deaths for our agenda," concluded Bradley. "We're here because we can't stand to see any more human beings lost because of this war. Let's lay it all on the table. ... This country must leave Iraq."