Zach Landau | A&E Editor
Despite the chance of rain, Pittsburghers kicked off July by turning out and showing their support for peace.
The Pittsburgh March Against War was held in Oakland on July 1. The event, hosted by the Pittsburghers in Solidarity Against War, is meant to “rebuild the mass anti-war movement by opposing military spending increases, the irresponsible use of force abroad and the outsized role of the military industrial complex,” according to its Facebook page.
The lineup of speakers and performers included activists from organizations like Veterans for Peace of Western PA and 1Hood Media, as well as various citizens of Pittsburgh who are military veterans.
The march itself began in Schenley Plaza and wound its way through Oakland, making several stops, including a PNC branch and Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute. Each stop featured a new speaker, with topics ranging from military financing to military contracts with universities.
Most of the event’s speakers, however, related their personal experience with war, particularly in the military.
Iraq War veteran Helen Gerhardt, for example, explained her disdain in the failure to hold military contractors Titan Corporation and CACI accountable for the Abu Ghraib prison incident, a series of human rights violations against war prisoners that were committed by the US Army and the CIA.
Jessie Medvan, another veteran of the Iraq War, also illustrated how the US abused its power during her time in the military. She admitted that she was shocked at how her comrades “turned into monsters” when they mistreated and abused native Iraqis, as well as Filipino workers. She also condemned the rampant sexual assault within the military, a crime she was a victim of.
Similarly, speaker Jayme McIntyre, a former navy sailor, explained that sexual assault within the military is almost never punished.
Duquesne students also came to show support, including the more religiously-devoted among the student body.
Matt Broeren, a senior Spiritan Seminarian studying healthcare supply chain management, explained that there is a long history and mysticism surrounding peace and nonviolence within the Catholic tradition.
“By participating in the… Eucharist,” Broeren explained, “We are invited by Jesus to join into the tradition of nonviolence in a spirit of whole self-devotion.”
He also stressed the importance of the march for providing “the space for people to express the shared call to nonviolence.”