M 7 Bloomington Peace Action Coalition M 6


"Supporting A Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq"
Multi-media Presentation & Dramatic "Die-In" Action
September 15, 2007

http://www.declarationofpeace.org

The DAYS of DECISION presentation and "Die-In" action in Bloomington, Indiana garnered great press in The Herald-Times, the city's daily newspaper. They also included a color photo taken by Christine Glaser on the front page of Sunday's edition, and then printed it again as a black & white above the article, with the caption we wrote(!):

"Two dozen people engaged in a “die-in” action in front of Bloomington City Hall on Saturday, calling upon Congress to stop funding the war in Iraq and establish a peace plan."

In their on-line version, the H-T also included a video of Timothy Baer being interviewed about the action, the Peace Plan, and the Declaration of Peace campaign.

The print edition also included: "You can view the multimedia presentation by visiting the Declaration of Peace Web site at www.declarationofpeace.org "

See the photos of the presentation and action at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/13953762@N04/sets/72157602238744502/

Below is The Herald-Times article followed by the detailed report by organizer Timothy Baer.

Dozens gather for peace demonstration

By James Boyd

331-4370 | jboyd@heraldt.com

The Herald Times

http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/stories/2007/09/16/news.qp-8166761.sto (available for subscribers only)

September 16, 2007

BLOOMINGTON — Dozens of people gathered at Bloomington’s City Hall Saturday to hear a Declaration of Peace for the war in Iraq.

Those in attendance got to view an extensive multimedia presentation outlining the nine points that members of __The Declaration of Peace__ — a national peace organization — and the __Bloomington Peace Action Coalition__ hope to get across to local, state and federal legislators.

“Today we’re making a presentation supporting the comprehensive peace plan for Iraq,” BPAC member Tim Baer said. “It is a part of the Days of Decision, a weeklong campaign with the Declaration of Peace.”

Baer said actions were being held in 21 states and in more than 60 cities through Friday.

“What we’re doing today is presenting a nine-point plan for peace in Iraq,” he said.

Their talking points include:

~ Ending the funding for U.S. military operations in Iraq.

~ The safe and rapid withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces from Iraq, with no future redeployments.

~ No permanent U.S. military bases or installations in Iraq.

~ Returning control of Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people and giving them sovereignty in their economic and political affairs.

Baer said U.S. Rep. Baron Hill had been scheduled to attend, but canceled after learning the event would be broadcast on community access television and that media outlets had been invited.

After the presentation — which featured some graphic images of a suicide bombing aftermath — audience members had a chance to participate in a question-and-answer session, followed by a “die-in.”

“The die-in is a representatation of the reality in Iraq,” Baer said. “Iraq needs a comprehensive peace plan. The reality is, what they have is death, violence and destruction.”

People lay down and were covered with shrouds.

“It’s a very moving experience for people to engage in,” Baer said. “It’s to make public the reality of Iraq.”

###

“What Iraq Needs Is A Comprehensive Peace Plan” ~

A Detailed Report of the September 15th Bloomington, Indiana DAYS of DECISION Event

by Timothy Baer

September 17, 2007

After four weeks of planning, organizers with Bloomington Peace Action Coalition and The Declaration of Peace – Bloomington presented an educational and compelling program called “Supporting A Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq” , and carried out a powerful and moving nonviolent “Die-In” action in Bloomington, Indiana on Saturday, September 15, 2007 .

The multi-media presentation took place in the City Council Chambers of Bloomington City Hall, and started shortly after 11:00 a.m. Twenty-nine people were in attendance, besides the two presenters.

Bloomington's Community Access Television Services (CATS) videotaped the program for broadcast.

Reporter James Boyd from Bloomington's daily newspaper, The Herald-Times, was present for part of the presentation, and did a video interview with anti-war organizer Timothy Baer outside the Council Chambers.

The Herald-Times published a great article in their September 16th Sunday edition of Hoosier Times, which has a 10-county distribution in south-central Indiana and a readership of about 50,000.

The Presentation: “Supporting A Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq”

The bright blue and white Declaration of Peace banner, an Iraqi flag, a U.S. flag, and black and white burial shrouds were displayed at the front of the Council Chambers.

A cardstock nameplate imprinted with “U.S. Congressman Baron Hill” was placed to the right of the flags and shrouds.

As people entered the room, they were given the opportunity to avail themselves of the Declaration of Peace signers pledge, the CPPI Talking Points, and other handout literature. The National Priorities Project and the Institute for Policy Studies ‘Cost of War' handout sheets explains the overall financial and human costs of the war and occupation in Iraq, and details the costs for Indiana, in particular.

Everyone was asked if they wanted to sign the CPPI Agreement , which said, “We, the undersigned, call on members of the U.S. Congress to publicly support the establishment of a Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq” and listed the nine points of the Plan. Most attendees signed the Agreement and many others signed it outside of City Hall, while the nonviolent action was taking place.

Two huge projection screens hung above the front area and were lit with “The Declaration of Peace Nine-Point Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq.”

Timothy Baer, campaign coordinator for The Declaration of Peace (DoP) and an organizer with Bloomington Peace Action Coalition (BPAC), welcomed everyone and introduced the presentation by saying,

“ Supporting A Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq – that's what the people of Iraq need. They need a Peace Plan. They need an end to the daily violence. They need security, reconstruction, steady employment, normally functioning services, a rebuilding of their healthcare system, they need to feel safe enough to send their children back to school, and on and on.

Most of all, the people of Iraq need all foreign fighters and occupiers to leave their country. What Iraq needs is an end to the U.S. military occupation.

That's what we are going to talk about this morning. How to move to ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq.”

Baer then explained why U.S. Congressman Baron Hill was not in attendance. Hill had initially agreed to participate in the presentation and question & answer forum, but, he wanted the meeting to be restricted to a closed-door meeting with BPAC members only.

Baer said: “We have been consistently asking for an open public forum on Iraq and foreign policy since Hill was a candidate in the summer of 2006, and have really been pushing the issue since February of this year.”

Because CATS was filming and broadcasting the event, and the media and the general public were encouraged to attend, — Congressman Baron Hill made the decision to not participate in the public forum.

Baer then introduced Christine Glaser.

Christine Glaser, an organizer with Bloomington Peace Action Coalition and member of the DoP Education Committee, authored the ‘Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq' (CPPI) She gave an excellent 40-minute Power Point presentation providing an overview of the Peace Plan, explaining that people should read the full 61-page document of the CPPI, to see the numerous references and details.

Glaser went through each section of the nine-point plan, beginning with the necessity for bringing “an end to all funding for U.S. military operations in Iraq” and then giving five reasons why “safe and rapid withdrawal of all U.S. troops and coalition forces from Iraq, with no future deployments” must begin immediately.

Glaser gave compelling explanations of the other seven points of the Plan, laying out why it is critical to remove permanent U.S. military bases from Iraq; support an Iraqi-led Peace process; return control of Iraqi oil to the people of Iraq, as well as all of their affairs; support reconstruction and reparations for Iraq; establish a U.S. ‘Peace Dividend' by rejecting rampant militarization and war funding; increase support for U.S. veterans of the Iraq war; and reject war against Iran or any other nation.

(Please see the Declaration of Peace website for the nine-point ‘Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq' and Talking Points :
http://declarationofpeace.org/campaign-updates/comprehensive-peace-plan-for-iraq-september-4-2 )

Glaser and Baer wrapped up the presentation by explaining the need to get the Comprehensive Peace Plan to all Senators and Representatives.

Regarding presenting the Plan to Indiana legislators, Congressman Baron Hill received a copy of the Plan, two weeks ago. Copies of the Plan are being hand-delivered to Senator Evan Bayh and to Representative Pete Visclosky on Tuesday.

Everyone was asked to put pressure on their members of Congress to vote against further funding for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and to publicly support the CPPI, and work toward establishing its goals.

Everyone was given an opportunity to ask questions about the Plan and about Iraq policy, or to voice their opinions. A twenty-minute passionate discussion ensued, with some people speaking from personal experience of family members in the military, and others talked of the political considerations for why Congresspersons were continuing to vote for Iraq war funding.

Two of Congressman Hill's staff were present. They took the Talking Points and other literature but, did not ask any questions or make any comments.

Everyone is encouraged to send a video-message to Congressman Baron Hill or other legislators, since Hill decided not to be a part of this forum, after he learned that CATS would be broadcasting the event.

Only two people did video messages to Congressman Hill. Everyone else seemed ready to participate in the action or to leave.

At 12:25 p.m., while still in the Council Chambers, Baer gave instructions to the assembly about the “Die-In” action, and that help was needed clearing everything out of the room, and volunteers were sought to hold banners, while others “died-in.”

The “Die-In” Action

Within ten minutes, the Council Chambers had cleared out, and the majority of the group came together outside in front of City Hall, in front of the doors, at the top of a large flight of entry steps.

Two eight-foot long banners on eight-foot high poles were unfurled and held high at the top of the steps. One read, “END THE U.S. OCCUPATION OF IRAQ” and the other one said, “STOP KILLING THE CHILDREN OF IRAQ” .

At the bottom of the steps in the public commons area, a multi-cultural fair was taking place, with scores of people milling among tables and displays.

To the right of the City Hall, the weekly Bloomington Farmer's Market was going on, in the City Hall parking lot. More than a hundred people were buying and selling local produce and milling about.

With more than two hundred people in the vicinity, heads began to turn toward the anti-war demonstration as The Declaration of Peace banner was lifted up and a “Rally for Peace” banner with images of the flags of Iraq and the U.S.A., and a Peace laurel, was displayed.

About 12:40 p.m., speaking through a megaphone, Baer exclaimed, “What the people of Iraq need is Peace. What U.S. soldiers in Iraq need is to come home to their families. The U.S. military needs to leave Iraq in Peace now!”

Dozens of people at the cultural fair responded by applauding.

Already, three people had lain down, commencing the “Die-In” . One was covered with the U.S. flag, and the other two were covered with black shrouds.

Baer continued, “A Comprehensive Peace Plan is needed to achieve these goals.

And the way to begin this Plan is for the U.S. Congress to stop funding military operations in Iraq.

Later this month, Congress will consider voting for another $145 billion for the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These immoral wars have already cost more than half a trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives. Indiana's cost for the war on Iraq so far has been $6.9 billion dollars, and the deaths of 81 young men.

Army Corporal Ryan Woodward from Ft. Wayne, only 22 years old, was killed just last week in Iraq.

The 9th Congressional District's share for the war on Iraq is over $715 million. Instead of millions spent for death and destruction, how many thousands of children could have been provided healthcare, or how many thousands of affordable housing units could have been built?

Congressman Baron Hill and all Representatives and Senators need to hear the people of the United States of America and vote to stop these war appropriations now. -- as we continue to say, this day:

We The People Declare Peace! Not One More Dollar! Not One More Death! End The Occupation Now! Bring The Troops Home Now! Support A Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq Now!”

More applause erupted from many who were by now listening intently.

Baer continued, “These are indeed DAYS of DECISION. And the decision must be to Defund the war and Establish a Comprehensive Peace Plan for Iraq.

So many lives have been destroyed by this war and occupation. So many American sons and daughters have gone to Iraq to never return home again. So many American soldiers have come home so damaged – so damaged physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. So many children of Iraq have been crushed by this ravaging war machine – so many Iraqis have suffered so much.

We mourn this day for the more than 700,000 Iraqis who have been killed because of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and subsequent military occupation, these past four and a half years. And the number of Iraqi deaths may be well over a million.

We grieve for the children who have suffered so much.

We mourn for the 3,780 American soldiers who have been killed in Iraq.

And we commit to continue to act to stop this illegal, immoral war and occupation in Iraq.

We encourage everyone to participate with us in an act of solidarity with the people of Iraq.

This is an act of non-violence. We are here to dramatically represent the reality that is in Iraq today.

We will lie down as we remember all those whose lives have been cut down.

As we enter into the representation of death in humility, in respect, in vulnerability, in mourning – let us remember all those who have been victimized by the war and occupation in Iraq – Americans, Iraqis, British, and all others, we are all sisters and brothers.

This is our act of solidarity. This is our act of commitment.

Iraq needs a Comprehensive Peace Plan.

Iraq needs Peace.

But, the reality is … without a Peace Plan … today, Iraq has death and violation.”

Baer then lay down, sprawled across three of the steps. Jan Fairchild covered Baer with an Iraqi flag. Soon, five other people lay down and were covered with white or black shrouds.

The nine “victims” lay motionless while about twelve others held the banners or stood with the group.

A few minutes of near silence preceded the quiet conversations that eventually sprung up among those holding banners and others.

By now, people from the market had come to view the action and inquire about it. Christine Glaser carried the CPPI Agreement for folks to sign and talked about the action and the Comprehensive Peace Plan. Glaser photographed the action and took some video shots.

Over the course of the next hour, as it got past 1:30 p.m. and the cultural fair and the Farmer's Market ended, and tables were removed, and the crowd dispersed, “Die-In” participants got up and left.

This was most of the participant's first “Die-In” action. The action was a powerful statement and was well received by those who witnessed it.

There was no interaction with police, at the action.

No one told the anti-war demonstrators to disperse. No permits for the outside action or the use of amplified sound were sought or given.

The last four action participants left the City Hall steps after 2:15 p.m.

###