Students protest war in Afghanistan

The group chanted as they prepared to march from the front of Cooper Hall to the door of the C.W. Bill Young Hall.

No justice, no peace, no war in the Middle East! they chanted into megaphones as they questioned the governments interests overseas.

Members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) lambasted the war in Afghanistan and the U.S. presence in the Middle East as they marched to the symbolic building on campus that houses the Joint Military Leadership Center and USFs ROTC programs.

The protest was part of an SDS national day of action calling for protests to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.

This war is still going on, and weve increased our presence in the Middle East dramatically, SDS member Matt Hastings, a senior studying anthropology, said. Theres threats of war in Iran and in Syria. So this is to build a broader anti-war movement, and to prepare for the next fight.

As the group was about to leave the courtyard in front of Cooper Hall for C. W. Bill Young Hall, Michel Plazas, a freshman majoring in biology and an onlooker to the demonstration, halted Hastings to ask a few questions.

The ROTC people in that building, who are students just as yourself, how are they funding a war that you and I are against? he asked.

Hastings paused to answer the student, while his fellow SDS members began to march onward.

Theyre being used in these wars, and theyre being used to fight these battles that arent their battles, Hastings said. They didnt decide for these wars its the politicians and the 1 percent that have decided to send these young Americans over there to fight for them.

The war has seen more than 2,000 military deaths, according to the New York Times, and more than 12,000 civilian deaths since the United Nations began keeping track in 2007.

We have seen what we have seen in every other war, billions of deaths, all in the name of Americas strategic interests, and those interests are corporate profits, Jared Hamill, a former student at the University of Florida and member of SDS that came to participate in the event, said.

SDS is a national student and youth-led organization that carries out campaigns for the awareness of multiple issues. The organization has more than 100 active chapters in high schools, colleges, universities and cities around the country, and was inspired by the radical 1960s movement against the war in Vietnam of the same name.

The group has been known for having historically left-wing views, but is unaffiliated with and unimpressed by either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Both parties have shown that theyre eager fighters for the 1 percent, Hastings said.

SDS continued the protest before disbanding around noon.