Above Photo: Protesters in Northampton, Thursday, included Priscilla Lynch, left, Sally Chaffee, Stanley Maron and Merriam Ansara. Alexander MacDougall.
Northampton, Massachusetts – Around 20 demonstrators gathered in front of the Northampton office of U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern on Thursday evening to protest the recent decision by the U.S. government to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
The Biden administration announced the decision to send 31 Abrams tanks on Wednesday, as fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces approaches one year of conflict. Germany also announced on the same day that it would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks on the same day, with 62 tanks in total being sent from NATO-allied nations to support Ukraine, as reported by the Associated Press.
The protesters gathered in front of McGovern’s office on Thursday to denounce the decision, saying the U.S. should focus on diplomacy and negotiations instead.
Paki Wieland of Massachusetts Peace Action, who helped organize the event in Northampton, said the group had held a meeting with McGovern last Friday where he had told them that the U.S. Department of State was in conversations about negotiations to end the conflict. She said the recent announcement instead signaled a worsening of the conflict.
“The idea of more tanks is anathema to peace talks,” Wieland said. “This only further escalates the war.”
The protest in Northampton coincided with several other demonstrations by Massachusetts Peace Action on Thursday at the offices of four of McGovern’s fellow Massachusetts representatives — Katherine Clark, Jake Auchincloss, Stephen Lynch and Seth Moulton — as well as at McGovern’s office in Worcester earlier in the day.
Several of the protesters spoke in front of McGovern’s office to call on him and other members of Congress to denounce any escalation of the conflict. A group of 31 progressive House Democrats, not including McGovern, had previously put out a statement in October calling for negotiations, but later withdrew that statement.
Stanley Maron, a member of the activist group Veterans for Peace who joined the Northampton demonstration, said that despite the widespread praise for Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the U.S., people need to be more objective in how they view the conflict.
“Americans only hear one side,” he said. “There’s got to be some discussion and debate on both sides.”
Both Russia and Ukraine have said they are open to peace talks, but neither side is willing to accept the other’s terms, according to reports in the New York Times. Key to the negotiations is four eastern regions of Ukraine that Russia claims as its own territory, including the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that have been engaged in armed conflict since 2014.