Posts Tagged new york city

Join Me to Stop “Stop & Frisk”

On Friday, October 21st, I plan to join in a non-violent civil disobedience action as part of a new and very important, courageous, campaign to stop “Stop and Frisk.”

I am answering a call issued by Cornel West and Carl Dix to engage in non-violent civil disobedience to stop this illegal policy of the New York Police Department.   Carl and Cornel say:

The NYPD is on pace to stop and frisk over 700,000 people in 2011! That’s more than 1,900 people each and every day. More than 85% of them are Black or Latino, and more than 90% of them were doing nothing wrong when the pigs stepped to them…WE ARE STOPPING ALL THIS.  YOU MUST JOIN US IN DOING THAT.

To be clear, I have never been stopped or frisked by the New York police solely because of my appearance, as 1,900 men are, every day, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, who is also fighting “stop and frisk.”  I haven’t been thrown up against a wall, detained, questioned or jacked up solely because I fit a vague description. But, I don’t want to live in a city where people have to go through this.

I have been arrested over the years, but so far, solely in the process of protesting injustices ranging from U.S. wars of occupation to murders by police, or the targeting of abortion providers by people who wanted to kill them.  I believe people have to take action to stop injustice.

That’s exactly why I’m joining Carl, Cornel, Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, Rev. Stephen Phelps, Rev. Omar Wilks, and others in an action to stop the NYPD from what they say is a practice which is “illegal, racist, unconstitutional and intolerable.”

Carl Dix, interviewed today in Revolution, described why he, Cornel and others decided that mass resistance to “stop and frisk” is necessary

The intensifying brutality being enforced in the inner cities is like a slow genocide that could be accelerated.  This must be met by unleashing resistance that is broader, fiercer and more determined.  And unleashing this kind of resistance around Stop and Frisk in NYC on October 21 and nationwide on October 22 would have a powerful positive impact on the situation.  It could speak to very real questions people have.  It can bring to the people occupying Wall Street a sense of how the police brutally enforce inequality and oppression 24-7 in the ghettos and barrios across the country.  And it can address the question many oppressed people have of whether there are any forces that would stand together with them in fighting the hell the system brings down on them or are they alone in this fight.  This resistance could contribute to creating a sense that things really don’t have to be this way among a diverse and growing section of the people.

So, all of you who want to do some good, who feel beaten down, or who feel unstoppable, join this action in some way.

Follow @StopMassIncNet on Twitter.

Send a support statement to debrasweet@worldcantwait.net.

Join us in taking the action, or come along to cheer us.  As the call says

If you are sick and tired of being harassed and jacked up by the cops, JOIN US. If you have had enough of seeing your brothers and sisters, your cousins, your aunts and uncles and fathers stepped to and disrespected by the cops, JOIN US. If you don’t want to live in a world where people’s humanity is routinely violated because of the color of their skin, JOIN US. And if you are shocked to hear that this kind of thing happens in this so-called homeland of freedom and democracy—it does happen, all the damned time—you need to JOIN US too—you can’t stand aside and let this injustice be done in your name.

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Occupying Wall Street & Resisting State Execution

Over the last few years, people have looked around at the movement for social justice and said, often, “Where are the youth?”  This past week, in NYC they have been out on the streets, crackling with frustration, outrage, energy, and some hope and joy at just standing against what they can’t bear to be a part of.

Mourning Troy Davis, Union Square, September 22, 2011

Monday through Thursday evenings last week in NYC, they turned out for rallies, vigils, and marches at Union Square, Columbia University, NYU, in Harlem, and down to Wall Street, against the “legal lynching” of Troy Davis.

Beginning last Saturday, hundreds of mostly young people, including students, have been occupying Zuccotti Park (Broadway & Liberty) as part of the Occupy Wall Street action.

Though they don’t have an organization, or a set of demands, they are organizing themselves into a structured effort to wake up the population to the vast disparity between wealth and poverty, saying that they speak for the “99%” who have no power in the society.  People are arriving to join in from around the U.S., and from around the globe.

Today, hundreds of mostly young people marched from lower Broadway to Union Square as part of Occupy Wall Street.  It was a loud, energetic, even boisterous, but peaceful crowd chanting “we are the 99% — and so are you!” and “join us!”

Marching up Church Street, NYC, September 24, 2011

Thousands of shoppers in SOHO and tourists and New Yorkers were snapping photos and waving thumbs up.  Cab drivers were honking in rhythm with the drummers.  Troy Davis was present via signs, as people refused to resign ourselves to his execution.

After we made it to Union Square with only about 6 arrests, the NYPD pulled out the orange plastic nets and pepper spray, and arrested upwards of 80 people, for nothing but being in the street, and in some cases, on the sidewalk.  They staged a mass arrest reminiscent of the police state atmosphere they created in 2004 at the Republican National Convention where George W. was crowned again.  It appears from video that people with cameras were specifically targeted for arrest, as they were in 2004.

The New York Times blog reports

Protest organizers estimated that about 85 people had been arrested and that about five were struck with pepper spray. Among those was Chelsea Elliott, 25, who said that she was sprayed after shouting “Why are you doing that?” as an officer arrested a protester at East 12th Street.

“I was on the ground sobbing and couldn’t breathe,” she said. The ongoing protests, against a financial system that participants say favors the rich and powerful over ordinary citizens, started last Saturday, and were coordinated by a New York group called the General Assembly.

The mass arrests are outrageous!  You can see more here, including live feed from Zuccotti Park, where people are feeding themselves and the homeless, playing music, talking to tourists, and working to free their arrested friends, with the help of the National Lawyers Guild.

As of this evening, up to 100 people remain in police custody.

The occupation of Wall Street will soon be joined by an occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. on October 6.

In 10 days, it will be 10 years since the Bush regime began its bombing and invasion of Afghanistan; an illegitimate, unjust, immoral targeting of one of the poorest countries on earth.

Sign up to be part of World Can’t Wait’s dramatic visual antiwar presence at the Thursday, October 6 encampment October2011.org at Freedom Plaza, Washington DC.  See more at TenYearsandCounting and worldcantwait.net.

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More on Driving out a Regime

Last week, I posted this photo of masses of Egyptians in Tahrir Square in late January 2011 with the question, “Now do you know what we were talking about?”

Tahrir Square, Cairo, January 2011

Tahrir Square, Cairo, January 2011

I sent the message to tens of thousands of supporters of World Can’t Wait, established in 2005 as The World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime.  The photo and one line got a lot of response.

Almost half the response amounted to “yes — we knew what you meant then, and we’re with you!”  Some people didn’t recognize the photo, or guessed that I was calling for a new movement to “drive out” the current president.  One, who signed the Call to Drive out the Bush Regime online in 2007, announced she is Republican, and wanted no more mail from me.

So, for you all to whom the message was not clear, here’s what that photo is about:

Early 2005 was a time when people in this country who cared about basic justice and rights of the people were thinking of leaving because George W. had been selected as president, again.   Why should 4 more long years have to pass with him as president, when that was so clearly against the interests of people in this country, not to mention the rest of the world?

About 40,000 people signed the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime online.  Clearly, the idea was appealing.  But people asked, what does “drive out” mean?  Some asserted that World Can’t Wait really, covertly, meant there had to be an all-out revolution to force Bush from office; that being impossible, they argued, we weren’t going to succeed.  Others could only conceptualize a movement utilizing the mechanism of impeachment, gaining critical mass in the Congress by winning over Democrats to lead it.

Here’s what we said in the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime:

There is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.

Driving out Bush & Cheney would not have been easy.  Clearly, it ended up being beyond the capacity of a great many honest, determined people who had right on our side.  But the idea of a mass movement of people independent of the Republican & Democratic parties, would have begun with people taking to the streets, and staying there for a prolonged period, with growing momentum.

World Can’t Wait and many anti-war leaders, including Cindy Sheehan, organized for several of the Bush years to get that sort of thing started.   We tried to find all those people who had been in the street, especially on February 15, 2003, when 15 million around the world — including probably one million in New York City — massed against the coming invasion of Iraq.  We knew that one day of protest was not enough, and also that what can happen once, could happen again.

Last week, as mass protests moved to Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Libya and now Wisconsin, I think a great many people are thinking more deeply about what good street protest does.  It’s really the only thing that’s ever made a government take notice, back off, re-think its actions.  It’s the only thing that brings out the true nature of a government.   And of course, yes, as in the case of Libya right now, unleash desperate brutality toward the people.

But that visible protest is a necessary factor for change.

Chris Floyd has been thinking about this. Worldcantwait.net often posts his thoughtful blog pieces from Empire Burlesque.  This one, Kairos in Cairo: Seizing the Moment of Moral Courage goes back to February 15, 2003, and considers what might have kept the U.S./U.K. alliance from being able to attack Iraq.  It’s worth reading as a whole.  To whet your appetite:

What if we, like the Egyptians, had gotten in the way of business as usual, and brought more and more pressure to bear on the system, forcing the issue of aggressive war on the public consciousness, unavoidably, day after day — and by this, as in Egypt, forcing officials of the system to declare where they stood?

So, where do we stand now?


Faith Voight: Having been here and seen it when thousands of East Germans risked their lives and their sanity to go on the streets and tell Erich Honeker that they were the people in his “People’s Democracy”. I understood what you meant at the time. But there are still many in the USA who honestly believe Saint Reagan brought Honny to his knees. Na, denn. Thank you for sharing, and for listening.

Take me off your list. I’m a Republican (!)

Nicolas Feden: Better that Bush was sent out through elected measures than a civil uprising with the military involvement.

Stephanie R: That’s a really good one.  More words are totally unnecessary.

Nicarangi: Why is not the credo now, “Drive Out the Obama Regime”? The wars have become protracted, the economic disparities have increased, and the police-state continues to expand. Please address what can none otherwise be called hypocrisy.

Rich Zubaty: Liberation Square on Wall Street! Obama is just a dumb puppet.

Vin Agemenone: definitely. I organized an ” IMPEACH BUSH ” rally in Reno in  2008. a friend & I put up  an ” IMPEACH ” banner ( 2.5 ft x 15 ft ) on a billboard in Carson City, NV. also, all year long in 2008, attended almost weekly rallies & protests in Carson & Reno with my favorite sign: [  BUSH must be THINNED from the herd  ] the actions felt good. these days feel like the gas went out of the balloon. if you ever come to northern Nevada, let me know.

Don Spark: LOL

James Carbone: Frankly, no I can see what you are talking about.  A picture says more than a thousand words — all contradictory. Please, explain.

Toni Jean: this email is confusing….are you suggesting we drive out the Obama regime? Its not clear what you want Americans to actually do- literally and what message?

If we want to end the war-  then shouldn’t a message be going out to our military to support the will of American citizens and stand down? go on strike?

Lynn Cardiff: What is this picture?

Vic Burton: Got it loud and clear.

Frank Hamilton: Yes, a non-violent peaceful protest without a need to be partisan- there were all kinds of people with different persuasions there-activists of the highest calibre, those who recognized that more important than the power struggle was the need to be recognized as genuine supportive citizens of their country. It could happen here if it could be inclusive, not about rage so much as action, and a united common cause. if the world can’t wait, then it must open it’s doors to all with peaceful intent.

Joellen Gilchrist: yes i do, except we are a nation of addicts, and will never get our shit together.

Carl Nigro: Don’t forget the Obama Regime!

Sally & Peter from Arlington West: debra,  do you think the egyptians are better educated to do this that the americans? paz, sally and peter

 
Elizabeth Rose: The events in Egypt are inspiring and amazing. However, is it appropriate to use those events to send a passive aggressive message to your list members?  Do you honestly think that those of us on your list would not for a moment want to be part of a movement like the one in Egypt to drive out ALL the Beltway Bobbleheads who are addicted the Kool-Aid of evil, immorality, and greed?
 
Think about it.  Now, can we focus on how to create such a movement?  Obama has failed.  (The budget release today is the last straw.)  It's a disappointment, and too many progressives are flailing, because we supported him so strongly.  But we need to get over it, and use this failure as leverage to move progressives into the streets and to push for a Democratic Primary in 2012.  Either that, or push for a national strike, preferably on Election Day on 2012.  It's a little hard for
corporations to steal our votes through ads if we refuse to let them influence us or, for that matter, settle for the "lesser of two evils."  Sure, it will throw Washington into maelstrom if the people who voted for Obama in 2008 vote with their feet for one election by refusing to vote, period.  Is their any place more deserving of a maelstrom?  And isn't about damn time we stop being afraid of a particular party being in power, when it is hard to imagine Washington being any worse than it already is?  
 
Have you read Margaret Atwood's *The Handmaid's Tale*?  If you have, you know what I mean when I say "welcome to Gilead." Let's be inspired by the courage of Egyptians and get some guts of our own.  It's hard, the corporate media makes us see everything through the lens of terror.  We need to message ACTION over FEAR.
 
If there's a better way to get attention, then there's plenty of room for ideas, so let's share them.  Bottom line:  The greedheads must understand that as they continue to kill us off, they are killing themselves.  Without us, there is no them.  No infrastructure for them to use, no consumers to buy their products, and ultimately a planet destroyed for human habitation.
 
Finally, the most important proximate message we can share - and do so over and over again - is that the rich are REQUIRED to pay more taxes because the rich use more resources.  State Corporate Charters also make it ILLEGAL for corporations to put profit before the Commons.  Yet we let them get away with it constantly and it needs to STOP.  We need to start shutting down these businesses that are violating their charters.  If we do, it will have a HUGE positive impact on our political process. Food for thought.  Regards, Elizabeth Rose Lisbon, ND

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What Does “C B S” Stand for?

If they air the Focus on the Family ad Sunday in the Super Bowl, CBS should change their name to “Christian Broadcast Syndicate”.

We’re taking signs tomorrow to CBS headquarters with creative uses of the acronym “CBS”.  Bring your own, or post your ideas here so we can make signs are represent you.  “Christian Broadcasting Syndicate?” “Cancel Sexist Broadcasting”? “Complete B– S–?” Be creative!   6th Avenue & 52nd Street in NYC or on Facebook here.

See the Women’s Media Center collection of signs and videos about why CBS should cancel the ad.  Here are some more:

The Raging Grannies of South Florida made a video

Planned Parenthood’s video: Sean James and Al Joyner respond to the Tebow Super Bowl ad

Sunsara Taylor (World Can’t Wait Advisory Board & Revolution writer) video

Yesterday’s blog post on this subject.

Press release for February 4 protest at CBS Headquarters, NYC

Press Alert

February 3, 2010

Contact: Lina Thorne  718 809 3803            wcwpressteam@gmail.com

Protest to Demand CBS Not Broadcast Anti-Abortion Super Bowl Ad

When: Thursday February 4   12:00 pm

Where: CBS TV Headquarters 51 West 52nd Street, New York City

Photo Op: What does “C B S” stand for?

Proponents of choice for women facing unplanned pregnancy will deliver more than 200,000 letters Thursday to CBS headquarters urging the network not to run an ad with an anti-abortion message in Sunday’s 2010 Super Bowl broadcast.

The 30 second ad purchased by Focus on the Family has generated controversy because CBS had previously refused to run ads deemed to have a political or controversial message, including a 2004 message from Moveon.org critical of President George W. Bush and a message from the United Church of Christ welcoming gays into their church.

The ad in question features Pam Tebow, mother of NFL star Tim Tebow, on her choice to continue her pregnancy in 1987 while a Christian missionary in the Philippines, despite being advised by physicians to consider termination to avoid potentially dangerous complications to her health and loss of her life.

Writer Sunsara Taylor said, “The problem with this ad is it promotes the idea that a woman’s fundamental role is to have babies, and if she risks her life to do so, she should be celebrated. Women are not breeders. CBS should change its name to the ‘Christian Broadcast Service’ or stop the ad.” Film of Sunsara Taylor

“Focus on the Family does not promote harmless ‘family values’ but Dark Ages ideology.  They actively oppose abortion, even to save the life of the woman, and birth control; say that gays are an ‘abomination,’ and that the earth was made 6,000 years ago.  They actively organize their millions of supporters to protest at abortion clinics and exclude gay and lesbian members of their churches.  That CBS is allowing them to breach a wall into the Super Bowl, and reach millions with their anti-abortion message is an outrage” said Debra Sweet, Director of the World Can’t Wait.

More than 200,000 protest messages were collected by Credo Action and the Women’s Media CenterWorld Can’t Wait is sponsoring the street protest.

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Victim of the War of Terror: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

Note: On February 4, Dr. Siddiqui was found guilty of all charges.  This was not justice.  See a piece by Petra Bartosiewicz who was in court for its duration.

The U.S. government’s case against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani who holds an advanced degree from MIT in neuroscience, will go to the jury Monday in federal court here in New York City.  I’ve been in the courtroom, and several times in the overflow room with dozens of supporters and reporters.

Dr. Aafiai Siddiqui

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in Afghan custody July 17, 2008

Even when we are only watching the trial through cameras in the overflow rooms, we are forced to give ID to enter, all to bolster the impression that Dr. Siddiqui is a dangerous terrorist, and that we are dangerous for caring what happens to her.  Everyone entering the courthouse goes through airport style security screening, but to go into her trial, one must be searched again.

Petra Bartosiewicz wrote for Time magazine in A Pakistani on Trial – With No Pakistani Reporters:

Although Siddiqui is not charged with any terrorism-related crime,security concerns are paramount though the procedures seem to be unevenly enforced. During the lunch break on the first day of the Siddiqui trial a group of Muslim men praying in the waiting areas outside the courtroom were afterwards asked to leave the floor. That prevented them from securing a place in line for the afternoon session. Several Muslim women in hijabs were also given similar instructions, but others in the same area, dressed in business attire, including this reporter, were permitted to stay. On the second day of the trial metal detectors were posted outside the courtroom and individuals were asked for photo identification and their names and addresses were logged by court security officers. At the close of proceedings on Thursday defense attorney Charles Swift protested the practice. “The suggestion is that the gallery may be a threat,” said Swift, calling the measure “highly prejudicial.”

Judge for yourself whether the New York Daily News, which calls Siddiqui “Lady al Queda” (absent any evidence produced at trial), or The Washington Post which headlines “Government: Let al-Qaida-linked scientist testify” is part of the prosecutor’s team.

Petra, who is writing a book on US terrorist prosecutions, has been in the trial every day, blogging and linked at CagePrisoners.com. Her article in November 2009 Harper’s The intelligence factory: How America makes its enemies disappear is a deeply researched piece going behind the US government’s public case against Siddiqui, and, more broadly, the existence of a network of secret detentions and prisons the US operates.  On Aafia Siddiqui:

When I first read the U.S. government’s complaint against Aafia Siddiqui, who is awaiting trial in a Brooklyn detention center on charges of attempting to murder a group of U.S. Army officers and FBI agents in Afghanistan, the case it described was so impossibly convoluted—and yet so absurdly incriminating—that I simply assumed she was innocent. According to the complaint, on the evening of July 17, 2008, several local policemen discovered Siddiqui and a young boy loitering about a public square in Ghazni. She was carrying instructions for creating “weapons involving biological material,” descriptions of U.S. “military assets,” and numerous unnamed “chemical substances in gel and liquid form that were sealed in bottles and glass jars.” Siddiqui, an MIT-trained neuroscientist who lived in the United States for eleven years, had vanished from her hometown in Pakistan in 2003, along with all three of her children, two of whom were U.S. citizens.

The complaint does not address where she was those five years or why she suddenly decided to emerge into a public square outside Pakistan and far from the United States, nor does it address why she would do so in the company of her American son. Various reports had her married to a high-level Al Qaeda operative, running diamonds out of Liberia for Osama bin Laden, and abetting the entry of terrorists into the United States. But those reports were countered by rumors that Siddiqui actually had spent the previous five years in the maw of the U.S. intelligence system—that she was a ghost prisoner, kidnapped by Pakistani spies, held in secret detention at a U.S. military prison, interrogated until she could provide no further intelligence, then spat back into the world in the manner most likely to render her story implausible. These dueling narratives of terrorist intrigue and imperial overreach were only further confounded when Siddiqui finally appeared before a judge in a Manhattan courtroom on August 5. Now, two weeks after her capture, she was bandaged and doubled over in a wheelchair, barely able to speak, because—somehow—she had been shot in the stomach by one of the very soldiers she stands accused of attempting to murder.

Dr. Siddiqui, whose brother Mohammed and many supporters are following the trial closely, is not on trial for terrorism charges, but for, as the government puts it, what happened in the “3 minutes” inside the Afghani police building on July 18, 2008.  She denied, on cross examination last week, picking up a gun, or shooting it.

From what I can observe, and have read, Dr. Siddiqui is deeply traumatized and has reason to be distrustful of the courts, the military, the FBI, who questioned her without introduction while she was in hospital recovering from the gunshot wounds.  She said, several times in court — and was removed for breaking the rule because she did so — that she was held in a secret prison, and her children were disappeared, and that she was tortured.

I saw reporters snicker at that.  Isn’t that a delusional idea, that a Pakistani could be held in a secret prison?  Remember George W. Bush, and Barack Obama as well: “We do not torture.”  She must be crazy, and guilty, to assert such a thing.

Then comes this piece by Anand Gopal, reporting for The Nation this week, Obama’s Secret Prisons:

Sometime in the last few years, Pashtun villagers in Afghanistan’s rugged heartland began to lose faith in the American project. Many of them can point to the precise moment of this transformation, and it usually took place in the dead of the night, when most of the country was fast asleep. In the secretive U.S. detentions process, suspects are usually nabbed in the darkness and then sent to one of a number of detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families.

This process has become even more feared and hated in Afghanistan than coalition airstrikes. The night raids and detentions, little known or understood outside of these Pashtun villages, are slowly turning Afghans against the very forces they greeted as liberators just a few years ago.

Andy Worthington reports on a new report from the United Nations, UN Secret Detention Report Asks, “Where Are the CIA Ghost Prisoners?”
concluding:

“While the report spreads its net wide, the US administration’s response to its findings about the Bush administration’s legacy of “disappeared” prisoners, and its focus on the gray areas of Obama’s current policies, is particularly anticipated. So far, however, there has been silence from US officials, and only the British, moaning about “unsubstantiated and irresponsible” claims, have so far dared to challenge their well-chronicled complicity in the secret detention policies underpinning the whole of the war on terror, which do not appear to have been thoroughly banished, one year after Barack Obama took office.”

How delusional are Dr. Siddiqui’s claims that she was tortured in a secret prison?

Dr. Siddiqui was found, disoriented, in Grazni Afghanistan, having disappeared from her home in Pakistan five years earlier.  No one has said where she was.  Pakistani human rights organizations, and some at the trial, have urged me to mention, and look into the disappearance of thousands of Pakistanis at the hands of the secret police, ISI, who are paid many millions by the US government to be part of the so-called “war on terror”.

These disappearances and deaths, this police state, are the responsibility of the US government, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, by funding, by political support and pressure to do the dirty work that amounts to the “war on terror” while the US chooses to say “we do not torture.”

But this is an administration which has dramatically the use of unmanned drones to target alleged “terrorists,” thereby killing hundreds of civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now Yemen and Somalia.  A poll last year in Pakistan, by al Jazeera found only 9% of adults supporting the drone attacks, because of concerns that they are killing innocent civilians.

Sebastain Abbot in the Huffington Post:

“The U.S. government doesn’t even suggest what the proportion of innocent people to legitimate targets is,” said Michael Walzer, a renowned American scholar on the ethics of warfare. “It’s a moral mistake, but it’s a PR mistake as well.”

As part of this “war on terror”, the US prosecutors have produced no physical evidence that Dr. Siddiqui held or fired a gun on July 18, 2008.  As Dr Siddiqui said, “I walked towards the curtain. I was shot and I was shot again. I fainted.”

I don’t expect justice for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui this week.  Even if she were to be found not guilty on all charges — which the evidence supports — what will her future be?  Where are her children?  Will she get back the lost years and be able to tell her story?

And I don’t expect an end to the illegitimate “war OF terror” until people living in the United States reject the dangerous direction their government is taking, against the interests of humanity.

See Aafia Siddiqui and the ongoing war on terror by Sadia Ahsanuddin on Connie Nash’s blog, One Heart for Peace.

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Marine Mom Makes Contact at Army Recruitment Center

By Elaine Brower on OpEdNews

For the last year or so I have been watching the construction of a new “Army Career Center” located a block from my office in downtown Manhattan. Once a week I would pass it and it was always closed and covered with brown paper on the big plate glass windows. It is located in an ideal spot, of course, because the military hires consultants to make sure they get prime real estate to suck up the youth.

Today the Army Career Center had its grand opening, a gala event that packed the center. I was able to make it there, but not until the end of the ceremony, when everyone had pretty much left, except for the Sgt. in charge, Castillo, and the brass. They were sitting around enjoying their food and smiling when I walked into the center. I asked for Sgt. Castillo, and was taken to the back room where he was sitting, along with his commanding officer, and another young soldier. I shook hands all around and introduced myself and told them my son just returned from his third tour of duty.

I recounted his story of joining the Marine Corps and being deployed to Afghanistan, and then to Iraq twice as a reservist. They were very impressed and asked me when did he return, and was he still in the Marines. Yes, I said, he was in the IRR at present, but is a New York City Police Officer as his full time job, which he has been doing for 5 years.

He was deployed twice while he was on the NYPD, and I told them that it was very hard for him to get his life started. They agreed and looked interested in the story.

I asked them about the local schools that they were so strategically placed next to, like the High School down the street, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. I said, “this is a good location for recruiting. You are so close to the schools and students pass your doors all day long. Do you plan on gaining entrance to the schools to do recruiting in the classes?” Sgt. Castillo said that they had asked permission and were awaiting approval, which he didn’t think would be a problem. I thought to myself nor do I, of course. The war machine is more than welcome in our schools, at every level. But I continued. “I work right down the street.” Sgt. Castillo asked where and who I worked for and I told him. He smiled and said “Wow, that’s great.”

I was sitting there in the back office, and then stated “I would like you to know that I am a member of a national organization called ‘Military Families Speak Out’ and it has about 4,000 members who all have loved ones who are serving or served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We oppose the wars vehemently and are doing everything in our power to stop them.”

I thought they would choke on their food at that point. Then I proceeded to say, “Since I work right here, I, along with hundreds of my activist friends, will be your worst nightmare!”

As you could hear a pin drop and confusion spread all over their faces, I continued. “I am so against what you are doing. You strategically placed this recruiting center so that kids who are either coming out of high school with nowhere to go, or those who graduate college in lots of debt and no jobs because of the economy are enticed to join the military.” “You are taking full advantage of the bad economy and sending more of our youth off to die and kill for illegal, immoral and illegitimate wars. You should be ashamed of yourselves and I don’t know how you sleep at night.”

I stood up, took a button off my handbag that I received while protesting at West Point. I said, “This button is for you.” I slammed it on the desk. “I got it when I was protesting at West Point when Obama was giving his “escalation speech.” It demands all troops home now, you can keep it as a reminder.”

At that point I thought they would stand up and escort me out. But they were in such shock, after spending the morning celebrating their existence, to hear that now they would be up against an angry mom, and counter-recruiters, put their small pea brains on overload.

In the new age of Obama, recruiting is a cushy job. This place had its doors open for a few days and already they are touting 11 new recruits. Those who would not fight and die for Bush, will do so under Obama which makes it extremely difficult to convince this generation of youth that joining this imperial military is not only bad for them, it’s bad for humanity.

And so it goes, I know where to have lunch every day now. Getting in the way of the war machine is what I like to do best, and they couldn’t have put this place in a better location, for me anyway!

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