D.C. Mobilization to "End the War on Iraq!" ~ September 24-26, 2005

News Coverage
Articles:

1. "Make Levees, Not War"
The Nation by Liza Featherstone (Sept. 25, 2005)
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20051010/make_levees_not_war

2. "Staged Arrests Round Off Weekend of Anti-war Protests in DC"
The New Standard by Benjamin Dangl (Sept. 27, 2005)
See original article and photographs at
http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/2406

3. "Camp Casey Goes to Washington"
Multiple detailed reports of the activities in D.C. (Sept. 21st - 27th) from Truthout.org, with photos and videos.
http://www.truthout.org/campcaseydc.shtml

4. "Three Days in September"
UFPJ overview of events.
http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=3111


5. Bloomington residents attend anti-war rally

by James Boyd
Hoosier Times
September 25, 2005

WASHINGTON - In a crowd of nearly 100,000 people, a couple of Bloomington residents ran into each other.

At one of the largest anti-war rallies to date, Roger and Carol Parks ran into Bloomington Peace Action Coalition member Tim Baer Saturday afternoon.

"I would say this has been a resounding success," Carol Parks said via cell phone from Constitution Avenue.

"People are finally waking up to what's going on. They're mobilized. There are people here from all over the country."

Protesters marched in front of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, though the president was in the Gulf Coast surveying damage from Hurricane Rita.

The crowd was composed of people from all different backgrounds, Parks said.

"There are young people, old people, babies in arms, people in wheelchairs," she said.

"It's just been an amazing, amazing experience. I've never seen this many people before."

Parks said seeing Cindy Sheehan, the outspoken war critic who lost her son in combat, was a moving experience.

"I think Cindy has lit a fire under a lot of people in this country, and I think she's a very brave person," Parks said. "For anyone who's a parent, it's so painful to think what it's like to lose a child."

Parks said a prayer service would be held today, and several groups planned on lobbying their local government officials on Capitol Hill Monday.

"People just keep coming," she said.


6. Local activist, 'peace mom' arrested
Baer, Sheehan visit with Lugar amid anti-war protests

The Herald-Times (Bloomington, Indiana)
by Laura Lane
331-4362 | lane@heraldt.com
September 27, 2005

Soon after a Monday meeting with U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, Hoosier peace activists and war challenger Cindy Sheehan, Bloomington Peace Action Coalition member Timothy Baer was arrested for demonstrating without a permit outside the White House.

Brown County resident Baer, his daughter and two others from Bloomington were among those who drove 14 hours to Washington, D.C., this weekend to protest the Iraq war. Monday was the third day of demonstrations that began with tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators rallying Saturday on the National Mall.

Baer and the others joined hundreds on Monday who marched around the White House shouting "Stop the war now!"

Nearly 400 protesters, Baer among them, sat outside the White House gate on Pennsylvania Avenue praying and calling for the war's end, said Baer's 18-year-old daughter Tabitha. She witnessed her father's arrest Monday afternoon.

Sheehan, 48, was the first to be arrested. Since her son Casey's death in Iraq last year, the California mother has sought a meeting with President Bush and has become an icon of the anti-war movement.

Officers carried Sheehan to a waiting van. After that, and several warnings to clear the sidewalk or face arrest, vans and buses were brought in and dozens of people were hauled off to jail.

About 370 people were arrested, said Sgt. Scott R. Fear of the U.S. Park Police. Fear said they would be taken to a local facility, charged and given a court date. Demonstrating without a permit is a misdemeanor that carries a $50 fine, he said.

Tabitha Baer said the protest was nonviolent. Her father walked quietly to a bus after his arrest to be transported to jail. She expected him to be fingerprinted, photographed and released after four hours in custody.

"He sat down with a big group and he refused to move and so they arrested him and put him on a big metro bus," Tabitha Baer reported.

Earlier Monday, Baer and Sheehan joined members of the Northwest Indiana Coalition Against the Iraq War in a meeting with Lugar.

Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said the meeting was amicable.

"Sen. Lugar made the point there has been no committee in the Senate more active than his foreign relations committee in holding hearings on the war in Iraq," Fisher said.

"Tim Baer actually thanked the senator for hearings we had in July that featured a lot of questions being asked about policy decisions on the war. He said he would continue to be in close contact with them as the debate in Congress proceeds."

Tabitha Baer said the group was happy to meet with a senator in person, as opposed to an aide. She said Lugar was polite and seemed interested in their demand that troops be pulled out of Iraq. He made no promises.

"He was diplomatic and nodding at what was said, but it was hard to tell if he will do anything or not," she said.

"He even said, 'I will not make any commitments because I fear I would not be able to keep my word.' But he seemed concerned, like politicians do."

7. Activist believes protest made a difference

The Herald-Times (Bloomington, Indiana)
by James Boyd
331-4370 | jboyd@heraldt.com
September 28, 2005

Tim Baer will return home to Bloomington today, confident he and hundreds of thousands of war activists made their point this past weekend in Washington, D.C.

While calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Baer and 369 other protesters were taken into custody for demonstrating without a permit in front of the White House Monday.

Baer and other Hoosiers met with U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel, R-Ind., Tuesday morning, lobbying for his support of House legislation calling for the construction of an exit strategy for U.S. forces in Iraq.

Both sides said the meeting was a success.

"It was a good dialogue," Sodrel's spokesman Cam Savage said. "It's always good to hear from people from our district. The congressman told (Baer) of his plans to travel to Iraq to see what's going on firsthand."

Baer said Sodrel - who represents Indiana's 9th Congressional District, which includes the eastern two-thirds of Monroe County - seemed open to the idea of communicating once he returned from the trip, which Savage said would take place "in the very near future."

"I asked him what it was going to take to move the Congress in calling for an end to this," Baer said. "Do we need 1 million Iraqis dead before it becomes an illegal and immoral war? Let's work on this now."

Baer had sat down with Sen. Richard Lugar, also R-Ind., on Monday for a similar discussion.

Shortly thereafter, while peacefully demonstrating in front of the White House, Baer said, he and other protesters were arrested.

"(Police) put up a barricade about 50 feet from the fence in front of the White House," he said, "but they actually had it opened where people could get into this small prohibited area. We just assembled inside that area, where a lot of people were putting messages and flowers inside the black fence."

Baer said one grieving woman gave him a large bouquet of flowers to take with him.

"I was very moved to be carrying these big, red, live-cut flowers," he said. "I carried them in and held them for most of my time in there and eventually laid them through the fence."

While protesters were "mostly praying and doing some singing," Baer said, police began to give the people inside the prohibited area several warnings to leave.

"When the officer came to me, I was still sitting and in prayer mode," he said. "He said 'Would you please get up?' and I said 'Why am I being arrested?' I told him I was there to have access to our president and to pray, and I asked him why that was an arrestable offense."

He said he and the other 369 protesters were put on buses and processed into jail.

"The police were very gentle," he said. "They knew we were completely nonviolent demonstrators looking for a change in policy."

Baer met with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, who has demanded a meeting with President Bush.

"She's a very sweet and humble person with a broken heart," he said.

"Overall it was a very positive experience. We need to do things beyond our routine, we need to step over that threshold of normality because we're living in abnormal times. We need to be speaking of ways, peaceful ways, to impact and alter our policies."

Baer, who works with the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, said he'll be posting stories and information from the demonstration on the group's Web site, www.bpac.info , later in the week.


Legitimate question has a simple answer
Monday morning

The Herald-Times (Bloomington, Indiana)
By Bob Zaltsberg (H-T Editor)
September 26, 2005

Letter writer Sheila Stephen asks a legitimate question today. Where was the H-T on Sept. 11, when a ceremony was conducted in the county to commemorate the events that occurred four years earlier?

She deserves an answer, and it's not going to be a justification for not covering it. It wasn't a situation that we had too much on our plate and we had to make a choice to cover something else.

No, it was nothing like that. Simply put, the reporter assigned to cover the event didn't show up for work. He no longer works here. That's the long and short of it.

However, we did announce the event before it occurred, contrary to the claim in the letter.

Sheila's letter referred to the number of protests we cover, and she brings up an interesting issue. People in Bloomington like to make their feelings known. They often do so through demonstrations and protests, and we often cover them.

We have some newsroom debates over the coverage of protests - basically, whether we cover them too much. Do we play into the hands of small groups that have no other effective means of spreading their point of view? If so, what is the harm?

There's harm, in my view, if we choose to cover a protest over another legitimate public event or news story that more people would find interesting. There's harm if we give protesters "play" that is out of balance with the event; that is, if we write a 10-paragraph story and publish two pictures when only 10 people showed up to make their point.

On the other hand, Bloomington's tradition of political activism dictates we are going to write stories and take pictures of more of these events than your average newspaper our size. The public demonstrations are part of what makes our community unique, and they often bring to the forefront issues that we might not otherwise cover.

But Sheila Stephen is right to question why we would go to so many protests and not cover a community event marking the anniversary of Sept. 11. My simple answer is frustrating, but it's the one and only reason.

'War is not the answer'

Letter to the Editor in Bloomington's Herald-Times
Friday, October 8, 2005

To the editor:

I wish to thank you for the excellent coverage of Timothy Baer and others who went to D.C. to witness for peace and visit our elected representatives

In Monday's edition, you shared with us criticism which you receive for covering protest events. Then you wrote, "… Bloomington's tradition of political activism dictates we are going to write stories and take pictures of more of these events than your average newspaper our size." This seems to be a very accurate insight into our community, and thank you for recognizing it.

I wish to add two quick points. One is that according to the national polls a much larger number of citizens also wish for peace, but for whatever reason choose not to stand up for these beliefs in public. Secondly, I wish to say that Timothy Baer is a man of great faith who is personally sacrificing self and everything else to bring us all to the realization that "War is not the Answer."

Violet Lynch, Bloomington

 

Photographs

DC IndyMedia photos
http://dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/130375/index.php

Feedback, stories, photographs, and assessment
from activists and organizers.

Tim Bagwell, an IU grad student and a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, has written a moving testimonal about his experiences at the national protest against the war in Iraq last weekend.  Please take the time to read Tim's words and know that we are not alone.  A poll by USA Today found that now 59% of Americans favor a full or partial withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. This is roughly 20% more than a year ago.
Peace, Amos Batto-----

A "souvenir" from the antiwar march in D.C. last weekend ...
by Timothy M. Bagwell     

Copyright: Timothy M. Bagwell
Bloomington, Indiana
tibagwel@indiana.edu

812-331-9183

I'm sitting at the Shady Grove metro station, at the northern end of Washington, D.C.s subway system. It's 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, and the anti-war march is over. I needed to get away from the crowds and so I came up here hours before the bus back to Indiana is scheduled to pick us up. It has been an emotionally wrenching day, participating in this largest anti- war rally since the end of the American combat involvement in Vietnam. My senses are again overloaded, my emotions are again raw, and I'm ready to head home, to begin, again, my personal healing regime.

You see I am a combat veteran of Vietnam (U.S. Marine Corps, 1968-1971), honorably discharged as a conscientious objector, and still an active member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. I still wage my personal fight against my post-traumatic stress and it certainly would be personally easier not to put myself in positions, such as this latest anti-war movement, that pull out all those old wounds and rip them open again. But I can not do that and remain true to who I am: A psychically wounded veteran who is adamantly and vociferously against war.

A bit of personal background to establish my credentials: I enlisted in the Marines in 1968; I was 17 and just out of high school. I was sent to I Corps in Vietnam in January 1969 and was there until July 1969, when the Third Marine Division left the country when Richard Nixon pulled out the first 25,000 American troops. When I returned to the states, I was assigned to Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where I was part of the ceremonial Guard Company which did weekly parades at 8th and I and at the Iwo Jima Monument. We also did ceremonial duty at the White House and Blair House, and guard duty at the Camp David Presidential Retreat. I was later reassigned to the Pentagon, where I served as the orderly to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was during this last assignment at the Pentagon that I accepted my radicalization and petitioned the Marine Corps to be discharged as a conscientious objector.  I was moved out of the Pentagon, joined VVAW, participated with them in April 1971 in their major anti-war rally, throwing my military medals back on the west steps of the Capitol. I was discharged, honorably, in May 1971.

Seven months, the length of time that I was “in country,” was enough to scar me for life. And, because it is a psychic/emotional wounding, I most frequently describe it using the metaphor of a scar running down the inside of my face: no one in the outside world can see it, but it distorts, forever, everything I perceive. I have been married multiple times, I have never managed to work for a company longer than four years, and I cry at the proverbial drop of a hat. Yet I can be a very high-functioning individual, as I am soon to complete a Ph.D. in education at IU Bloomington, a degree I didn't start until I was 50.

Back to today—I'm back sitting on the grass at Shady Grove, mulling over the day, and, for me, the setting was ripe for emotional overload.

• I was walking through the crowd about mid-morning on the north side of the grounds of the Washington Monument, looking for a contingent of VVAW members. I spotted a man wearing the distinctive VVAW black-and-white t-shirt like I had on sitting beneath a tree. As I walked toward him, our eyes met and my “hi” in greeting came out almost like a sob. His name was Glen and, ironically, he was from Indianapolis.

• I'm walking by myself through the crowd at the Ellipse, where the speakers are addressing the vast crowd of adrenalin-charged folks. I see a young Marine in dress blues carrying an anti-war sign.  I catch his eyes with mine and immediately mine well with tears. I shake his hand to say thanks physically because my words are locked tight behind an iron wall of overwhelming emotions.

• The anti-war signs were strikingly creative and many were outrageously funny if you possessed a preference for leftist politics but I couldn't even trust my voice if I asked someone to stop so that I could take their picture with their artwork. If I tried to talk it came out a garble of tears, spittle, and breathe. The strength of my emotions' ability to render me incompetent added to the pain.

• No where could I turn to evade the rawness of what I was re- experiencing. I had intentionally put myself back into this context because of the strength of my desire to end war, and this was the price I again agreed to pay to try to achieve that. It is nothing, I told myself, compared to the amorality and grotesqueness of combat. It is nothing compared to what war does to humanity.

This, you see, is my version of post-traumatic stress. This is, for me, what war does to all that it touches. No one escapes war unscarred, unharmed, unaffected. Everyone—veteran, mother, father, sister, brother, grandparents— reacts differently, rationalizes their choices and their consequences, but all are scarred in some deep, permanent, and, most importantly, unnecessary way.

This deadly ‘unnecessity” of war is why I had to come to this anti-war rally. The vast majority of the wars that this nation has fought since the civil war have been motivated not by the defense of our land and “fighting for our freedom” but by the mythological self-delusion of our own grandiosity and self-importance, fed back to us by our own political powerbrokers. We control this process and if we want it to stop we have the power to stop it.

Late in the afternoon, I sat on a curb on the north side of H Street and intentionally tried to avail myself to the rarified anti-war wisdom that filled the street from curb to curb. “How can we—I” I asked myself, “help correct this damn country's propensity and preference for war?”

No magic answers popped into my mind because there are none—but, quietly, two women, separately, came by and interrupted my reverie.

• The first was the wife, as she introduced herself, of one of the national directors of VVAW, out of Chicago. She quickly explained, as she shook my hand and told me thanks for being here today, that her husband could not get to D.C. for this march and she was committed shaking the hand of every VVAW person she saw.

• The second woman caught my eye, took in my tear-stained cheeks, recognized my t-shirt. She said “hi” as she walked by, a part of the answer in the street. After she had passed by a few feet, I saw her turn around to me and ask the most unusual question of the day: “Were you a C.O.?”  I nodded yes, immediately cognizant of my discharge as a conscientious objector.  She then pointed to her sign that I had missed:  “COs are our heros.”  I smiled back my thanks because smiling was all that I could do. For a few seconds, until I could regain my composure, my tears—and all the hell of combat they stupidly represented—squirted from my eyes.

Here, in the quiet unpretentiousness acts of these two women, I realized that I can, in deep and significant fact, be a part of ending this war and any other damn war—by wearing on my sleeves the pain of my own experience and putting myself into those public places where others can draw from it, challenge it, or learn some personal lesson from it. That is how I can turn those damn tears of mine into something this country needs—a fresh understanding of how it is actively contributing to the ruination of this earth. 

Timothy M. Bagwell

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I'll Stand with Cindy
by Nick Egnatz
September 27, 2005

Saturday, September 24, 2005 a huge march and rally was held in Washington DC protesting our continuing military occupation of Iraq. The so called main stream media chose to give this historic event scant, if any, coverage. The Park Service has put a clamp on estimating crowd size for demonstrations after controversy over the crowd size at the Million Man March in 1995 when Luis Farrakan threatened to sue over what he said was a low count. DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey said the protesters achieved the goal of 100,000 and probably exceeded it. Asked if at least 150,000 showed up, he said, “That's as good a guess as any.” No aerial photographs have been released that I know of. Sunday's Chicago Tribune reported that the 30 block route of the march was completely filled when the first marchers were finishing and there were still others that hadn't started marching yet. Cindy Sheehan estimated the march at over a million based on information given her by the DC police. People in our group talked with police at 3 different locations who all said the march exceeded 600,000. Maintenance work on train lines in major cities across the East Coast, including New York and DC, kept many train riders from joining the march and protest. The pro-war, counter-protesters, numbered app. 200 on the march day and at their rally on the following day they numbered 400 and this was an action they had been planning for months.

Why is any of this important? The previous largest anti war protest in our country was the Nov. 15, 1969 Mobilization estimated at 250,000-500,000 during the Vietnam War. Saturday's march certainly has a legitimate claim to surpassing that. It is important for the American People who were not present in Washington on Saturday to know that this event took place, so that they will know they are not alone.

On Monday myself Nick Egnatz (Munster), my daughter Erin Egnatz (Munster), Jerry Myroup (Schererville), Diane Pelis (Schererville), Sue Eleuterio (Highland), Karen Kroczek (Munster), and Nina Klooster (Lake Village), accompanied by 10 other passionate advocates for peace from around the state of Indiana including Timothy Baer (Helmsburg), Kathy Liggett (Mishawaka) and Christine Glasser (Santa Claus), met with foreign policy staff from Congressman Visclosky and Senator Bayh's offices and with Senator Lugar himself. We wanted to know why our representatives in Washington did not want to end the Iraq Occupation.

We still don't know. We presented many thoughtful arguments for ending the war and occupation and not a single line of reasoning was rebutted at any of the 3 offices. Yet, no one was ready to make a commitment to in any way move toward a withdrawal of our forces or a cut-off of funds which are paying for the occupation.

Although I had never met Cindy Sheehan before, I had communicated with her when we were first starting our rallies. I invited her to speak at our first rally and again when the Bring Them Home Now Tour Bus stopped in Highland, IN. She was unable to attend either event. On Saturday night while visiting with the CodePink contingent at Camp Casey, I saw Cindy and went over and said hi and invited her to join us when we met with Senator Lugar. She accepted and joined the meeting in progress the next morning. The Jim Lehrer NewsHour on PBS had scheduled to do a piece on the meeting. The cameras were there for PBS and the Indianapolis NBC affiliate, but Senator Lugar's staff informed the press that they could film before and after, but not the actual meeting. It was broadcast last night and I still haven't seen it.

Cindy joined the meeting shortly after it started and let everyone else talk. It wasn't until she had been there for quite a while that I somehow got the floor and was making the point about the consequences of our war and occupation and I introduced Cindy to the Senator, “and this is Cindy Sheehan who you may know lost her son in Iraq.” Cindy replied, “I didn't lose him.” Long Pause. “George Bush killed him.” Cindy remarked to the Senator that his constituents were doing a great job of telling him what we wanted (Out of Iraq) and why. Then she let us basically finish the meeting with Senator Lugar.

When she said, “I didn't lose him.” it might be the first time in my life I was at a loss for words. But she continued by speaking her mind. I know that some will say that she shouldn't speak her mind and should temper what she says, but I'll take her plain speaking any day over politicians who can't refute our arguments for peace, yet are content to be “thoughtful” and allow the occupation to continue.

Cindy had been traveling the country for many months, promoting an end to the Occupation, when she camped out in Texas and became a media celebrity. Her message has not changed. The war was immoral, illegal and founded on lies, therefore George Bush killed her son and we, the American People, need to take back control of the government.

On Monday immediately after our meeting with Senator Lugar, while I was still waiting to be interviewed for TV, the Civil Disobedience began. We stopped at the White House and observed for about 15 minutes on the way to our flight. Click on the link to DailyKos below and read the account and see the pictures. This is what our once great country has come to; arresting the best and bravest amongst us for having the courage to put themselves on the line to stop this War and Occupation.

I know that Cindy is not alone, she had almost 400 other brave souls who participated and were arrested with her, and she has us and other groups all around the country, but it must be so exhausting for her. Right now she has the weight of the entire world on her shoulders and we have to do whatever we can to help her. By her being out in the forefront of the news, she is forcing people to look into the mirror. Many don't like what they see when they look into their mirror, that is why so much vitriol is hurled at her. She is the conscience of the country and I'll stand with Cindy. Won't you join me?

Nick Egnatz

(219) 838-0807

nickatlakehills@sbcglobal.net

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/26/153237/492

"It is always simply a matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." -German propaganda chief Herman Goering 1938

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You Made History! (by Sue Udry, Congressional Education Day Coordinator - United for Peace and Justice)

The UFPJ Lobby Day on Sept. 26 was the biggest lobby day for peace any of us can remember – and you helped make it so!  Even if you had to miss out on the lobby day, I will continue to reach out to you so that you can be involved in our follow-up activities.

Here is a quick report – upwards of 1,000 citizen lobbyists hit Capitol Hill, meeting with over 300 members of Congress and/or their staff.  We represented 40 states, and met with about an equal number of Republican and Democratic members.  Even the media were interested, the News Hour with Jim Lehrer covered the Indiana delegation meeting with Senator Lugar, Phil Donhue and his crew were present at a few meetings with the California delegation.  Most delegations were met with a polite and respectful response.  One Congressional Aide told a delegation “you are the best prepared and largest group I have ever met with”!

WE GOT RESULTS!
Rep. Maxine Water's office (home of the Out of Iraq Caucus) reports a surge of interest in the caucus after our lobby day, and two new members: Reps. Lois Capps (CA-23) and Michael McNulty (NY-21).   The No Permanent Bases in Iraq Bill (H.Con.Res.197 ) picked up two new co-sponsors: Reps. Brad Miller (NC-13) and Ike Skelton (MO-4). 

Let's build on this success!

Please take the time to fax (or e-mail) a thank you note to the staff person or Congressperson you met with. (I know that many of you have already done this.)  You should recap your sense of the meeting in the thank you note, and ask any follow-up questions you have, particularly regarding support for the bills we lobbied for. You have begun to build a relationship with the office of your Representative and/or Senators – keep it up!

(Contact info for your members of Congress can be found at http://www.capwiz.com/wand/dbq/officials )

Remember also to return the green exit forms to us (I've already gotten almost 100 returned – thank you!)

What next?  Many of you are already planning next steps, or wondering what you should do.  I have two answers for you.

On Monday, call your Senate offices to tell them you want them to stop funding the War in Iraq. They are planning to pass a $441 billion defense spending bill on Wednesday, which includes $50 billion for the war. Unfortunately, due to Senate procedures, they won't be able to vote against the war funding separately so we won't come close to winning this vote – BUT they have to hear our opposition to this war funding.

Call the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator's office (remember you will have to make two phone calls to speak with each of your Senators' offices). 

We all recognize that we need to keep the momentum going, build those relationships and keep the pressure on.  This lobby day gave many of you a chance to start networking and planning for follow-up in your home district – UFPJ wants to support that work and create district-based legislative networks across the country.  I know that many of you are interested – let me know if you want to be involved, and please share any ideas you have on how you think such a network should work in your district.

Susan Udry
Congressional Education Day Coordinator United for Peace and Justice
301-565-4050x315 301-325-1201 (cell)
martinudry@yahoo.com

http:// www.unitedforpeace.org/lobbyday

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Thoughts on the 9/24 peace march and challenges to the peace movement today (from Eric Brooks, Indianapolis)

Dear Peaceful Folks,

Its taken me some time to absorb the wonderful experience of going to Washington DC for the recent peace march. The day is one that I'll remember for the huge mass of people, and the spirit of commitment and fun. I saw people on stilts, young folks dancing and singing peace and anti-administration songs, disabled people in wheelchairs, the elderly, babies strapped on their fathers and mothers, and so many others all participating. I heard many of the moving speakers. It was wonderful and I am proud to have marched and proud to be a member of such a vibrant and alive peace movement.

However, I was also left with many questions, some of which include:

In the face of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, where many people appeared to make the key link that the domestic tragedy was caused by the anti-people and racist priorities and practices of the current administration, and in the first place by the US aggression against Iraq, why didn't a million people show up to protest and demand an end to the war and in support of humane, pro-people policies here at home?

In the face of the racism inherent in the economic draft which results in the over-representation of people of color in the armed services, and the racist component of so many other aspects of the war effort and the Bush administration's domestic policies,  why were people of color under-represented?

My sense, looking at these issues, is that the peace movement needs to engage in a discussion on strategy and tactics, and on the meaning of unity within the movement. Each action in which we engage is a choice not to engage in some other action. Are we making the right choices? How do we choose outside of a conscious unifying strategy to win peace?

The idea appears to be current among some sectors of the Indiana peace movement, and I think nationally as well, that the strength of the peace movement is the many varieties of individual or small group action that go on simultaneously. In this scenario, what I call the "networking" model prevails, where small affinity groups network through larger organizations to share information, but don't work to build a single large membership organization that develops resources, skills, institutionalized knowledge, and so forth.

On an individual level, each of us brings the diversity of our experiences, views, understandings, and goals to the peace movement, and that is as it should be. In fact, given that we are all people with our own thoughts and experiences, I don't think it could be any other way.

However, my sense is that the time has come for the peace movement to discuss a deeper level of unity and organization, both in Indiana and nationally. It is not enough, I think, for us to achieve a greater understanding of one another. That for me is not the point of the peace movement. The immediate goal for me is to end the bloodshed in Iraq, particularly to stop the murder of Iraqis by the order of the current US administration, and return the US troops to their families. While I support the vigils, and other education-oriented activities, and the lobbying efforts, I think the only thing guaranteed to stop the war is for very large numbers of people to join in common action to demand with a unified voice the immediate end of the war, and to link those demands to electoral and economic action, and to pro-people domestic policies at home.

In that light, my sense is that the focus needs to be much more on actively trying to build the membership in organizations like the Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center by new tactics which might include door to door distribution of the IPJC newsletter and other literature, setting up neighborhood teams that meet regularly to link the peace struggle with neighborhood issues, and outside the IPJC structure but connected to it building an electoral power base to support pro-peace/pro-people elected officials and challenge those who are anti-people and support the war.

I believe a conscious policy of outreach to people of color by linking the war to issues that impact us concretely, and not shying away from making those concrete links to bread and butter issues, is vital. These issues include basic people issues like protecting and expanding social security, education as a human right rather than being forced to go into the military to get funding for school, quality affordable health care for all, living wage jobs, the right to organize both unions and in the peace movement, and similar linked issues. The war funding is a direct and ongoing attack on all domestic social needs.

I am arguing that the concrete need to end the war demands more unity of purpose, unity of strategy and tactics, and a higher level of organization than we've developed to date, as well as a conscious discussion on goals, strategy and tactics.  I think we must move beyond the politics of networking to the politics of mass organizing.

Finally, I do not believe we can be against the war but supportive of the occupation. The only demand that I believe makes sense for the peace movement to put forward is for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US and associated state forces from Iraq. Immediate and unconditional because the Iraqis have the human right to self-determination, and because the US is not doing anything constructive or positive in Iraq, only protecting US interests in the natural resources there through murder, intimidation, and exploitation in the name of gunpoint democracy.

I believe that one strength of the peace movement is in the brotherhood and mutual support we offer each other in the struggle to end the war, and it is in that context that I offer these thoughts, concerns, and questions. I look forward to any comments people may have to offer in response.

In unity and struggle,
Eric Brooks

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Update on the two nonviolent civil disobediences in DC (Monday, Oct. 26, 2005):

Pentagon nonviolent direct action: On Monday morning, the War Resisters' League (WRL) and septemberACTION Collective held a civil resistance action, blocking two entrances of the Pentagon.  The action briefly shut down two entrances, and later for a short time the entire Pentagon metro station. Ultimately, 41 were arrested.  The action ended when Pentagon police began insisting on bag searches. 

For more on this action, please read
http://dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/130425/index.php .

UFPJ nonviolent direct action: On Monday afternoon, UFPJ, mostly coordinated through the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (principally, that's Iraq Pledge of Resistance) and Clergy And Laity Concerned about war (CALC) organized a symbolic direct action at the White House.  Well over 300 people were arrested for occupying a small "postcard" space in front of the White House.  "Notables" arrested included  Cindy Sheehan and Cornel West.  The action was extremely spirited with probably three times as many other people (at peak) rallying as those arrested.  Drums beat loudly, especially a contingent of Buddhist drummers.  Press swarmed the action. 
It took about four hours for the Park Service to arrest everyone, and it wasn't until after 3:oo a.m. that some were released from jail.  One man jumped the fence
at the White House and was quickly arrested and dragged across the White
House lawn.  Signs with names of military dead and other anti-war signs were pasted and taped illegally to the grated fence of the White House.  Finally, the last
arrests and the remnants of Hurricane Rita ended the rally.
In Solidarity & Struggle, Cate Russo

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Hello again from the DC mall, Tim! (from Tom McGinnis)

http://dc.indymedia.org/media/all/display/26911/index.php?limit_start=135

Above is a pic of my kids, carrying one of the 1000coffins.org coffins. Their idea -- we were just walking by, trying to size up the situation, no idea of who was what or where -- when as we approached, the organizer call out for volunteer pall bearers. The kids immediately said "Dad? Can we???"

They confessed later they thought it would be one hundred feet and 2 minutes and that would be it. We had no idea about how far the protest went, no idea of the route of the march or how far or HOW LONG it would take, and we ended up missing most of the speechs and various inspirations that I'd hoped we might find. Instead, were found ourselves right in the middle of things, for nearly four hours. (And me with little sleep and NO caffeine!)

Now, I've got to tell you that the three of us are hikers and runners, so distance was not the thing. Standing still, no tmoving, killed all three of us (and everyone else), mostly in the back. And in that picture, I don't think ANY of those in view made it even 1/3rd of the way, but (our brag) we did, as did the people on our whole (4X1) row; we stuck it out, standing still, walking 10 steps, putting the coffins down, waiting 2-5 minutes, picking them up, waiting, walking some more steps... As one gal said, "Welcome to real live activism, boys!"

It was great. Thank you for your part, there and here in Hoosierland.
Tom McGinnis
Dad to Connor and Cole
Spatior! Nitor! Nitor! Tempero!    Pro Pondera Et Meliora.

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From CODEPINK: Our Glorious Week of Anti-War Protests & More!

September 29, 2005

We have just come out of a glorious week of anti-war activities. CODEPINK activists from all over the c ountry converged on Washington DC to join over 300,000 others in a massive rally and march on Saturday, while others participated in spirited rallies in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.

In DC, w e started the day with a fabulous pre-rally in the morning, where we were joined by Cindy Sheehan , Joan Baez , Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey , actress Margot Kidder , Iraq veteran Camilo Mejia and thousands of supporters. We then moved together in a sea of pink to join the march, keeping up a joyous tone w ith our chants, our songs and our “ sister spirit .” The march was so huge that you couldn't find the beginning or the end -- just waves and waves of people united in our call to end the killing.

On Monday many CODEPINK women took our anti-war message to the halls of Congress, joining more than 800 others in the largest-ever pro-peace lobby day organized by United for Peace and Justice . We urged our representatives to take every action to stop this war, support legislation to bring the troops home, stop building permanent bases in Iraq, and forbid schools from sharing student information with military recruiters without parental permission.

Also on Monday, a CODEPINK contingent went to the gate of the White House to deliver boxes and boxes of ‘ reasons to end the war ' gathered from our www.onemillionreasons.org site, as well as from organizations such as MoveOn, Progressive Democrats of America and True Majority. Following that, a group of religious leaders sat in prayer in front of the White House, and 375 of us -- including Cindy Sheehan and other military families, veterans and 36 CODEPINK women -- joined them. Protesting in front of the White House in today's America is a crime , and because we refused to move, we were arrested for “demonstrating without a permit.” One by one, we were dragged off, handcuffed, put in a paddy wagon or a bus, and shepherded through a LONG bureaucratic process of booking and fingerprinting that went on until the wee hours of the morning. We left exhausted but elated by our act of civil disobedience and the camaraderie we felt with each other.

Our week of action also included organizing an anti-corruption squad that protested in front of the DC office of Halliburton, a peace flotilla that went out in paddle boats onto the DC Tidal Basin with the call “ Make Levees Not War ,” A large vigil at Walter Reed hospital in support of wounded soldiers and vets, a premiere showing of Patricia Foulkrod 's searing film Ground Truth about the shattered lives of returning Iraq vets, a beautiful event at the Green Festival with authors from our Stop the Next War Now book, and a booth at the Peace and Justice fair on the Washington Mall. On top of that, we helped Cindy Sheehan with her packed schedule of talks, interviews and congressional meetings. Whew!!!

Please check out the amazing photos and blogs on our site to see the breadth and depth of our actions this week. We are now home catching our breath, reuniting with our families, planning for what is next and recharging our batteries for the work ahead. We want to send a huge thanks to all who joined us in Washington or their local rallies, to the staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this such an amazing week, and to all of you whose generous support and encouragement keep us going.

With hope and thanks,

Alicia, Andrea, Dana, Farida, Gael, Grace, Jodie, Medea, Rae, and Tiffany

P.S. We have a full plate of work before us -- legislative pressure TO STOP THE WAR , statewide campaigns to bring the National Guard home, countering the aggressive military recruiters, supporting the vets and military moms who are speaking out. Please support our efforts by joining a local CODEPINK and making a tax-deductible donation . We greatly appreciate your help.

 

 

(... under construction ... more forthcoming)