Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, a Columbia anti-war organization, led a memorial and demonstration in downtown Columbia at noon Monday to honor the victims of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and the military conflicts that ensued.
Mid-Missouri Peaceworks director Mark Haim has organized a vigil or gathering of some sort in honor of 9/11 every year since 2001.
“We have gathered on every September 11th since 2001 to call for no more victims. There were tragic crimes on 9/11, and those crimes should’ve been addressed as criminal matters,” Haim says. “Instead, they’ve been used as a cause for war and in addition to the thousands that died that day, tens and hundreds of thousands have died in the wars that 9/11 has been used to justify. Our message is: ‘no more victims, end the wars, stop making enemies.’”
Fifteen people stood with Haim throughout the hour-long demonstration, holding signs advocating for the end of war and other social injustices like racism and Islamophobia. One demonstrator was Jeff Stack, coordinator for the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation. Stack spoke before the demonstration and said felt the United States’ resources need to be allocated toward addressing domestic issues.
“Ideally we can start to ‘pivot’ towards the point where we recognize that what will help our people and the people of the world is to try to use the amazing resources we have in this country to make sure that human needs are met, for all people around the planet,” said Stack. “We should work toward ending homelessness in Columbia, ending poverty in our country and abroad, make sure all people have potable water, make sure that we get people off the streets and try to make sure human needs are met.”
“Our war is right here, on our homeland, in America, in our cities, in our towns in our rural areas," Columbia resident Willie Jones added. "Whatever causes us to not have mutual respect for each other as Americans: that’s the war. We need to be trying to dissolve those things. Racism, poverty, lack of education, I think that’s the most important thing that we can do.”
The Fellowship of Reconciliation and Veterans for Peace organizations co-coordinated the event with Peaceworks and had representatives present during the demonstration.