Posts Tagged resistance
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.
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!”
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.
Since hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. marched against the Iraq war in 2002/2003, I’ve been part of hundreds of conversations with people who wonder: what happened? Those mass mobilizations (which happened because the Democrats were so paralyzed they could neither get out in front of them nor offer a peep of resistance to the oncoming war themselves) were not futile. Worldwide, that was the largest, quickest mobilization against a war in history. Our combined action deprived the Bush regime from having the coalition it wished for, when the “willing” nations dwindled in the face of world public opinion.
But yes, Bush & Cheney, surely the most unpopular leaders in generations, held on, wreaking havoc abroad and here. We failed to mount to level of protest necessary to drive them from office in disgrace; instead, Bush was succeeded by an unlikely Democrat, elected largely to overcome the outrage at the Bush regime. Two occupations, and a couple of secret wars, continue – in the longest-running active military campaign by the largest-ever military (I know “combat” troops have left Iraq; yet 17 U.S. bases remain, along with 50,000 troops and uncounted private contractors).
All sorts of protest, from weekly vigils, to large street protests, civil disobedience, active duty military resistance, droves of soldiers going awol, high school walk-outs, protests inside Congress, dramatic die-ins, involving tens of thousands of arrests have not stopped them. I know people are agonized, and wonder which tactics will work. If we avoid Saturday protests and focus on weekdays, will that get their attention? If we put all our energies into one great Saturday march, will that be enough to get national media attention? If we throw our bodies across arbitrary lines to get arrested? Will they who make the wars ever be made to stop?
All those actions – and more – are part of what it would take to force the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan, and to abandon the ground war and drones in Pakistan. It’s not a matter of protest tactics. We need controversy dividing every institution in society, from religious to educational, over whether these wars, and those who advocate them, are legitimate. We must find a way to bring in those under 18, who may not even remember the evil Bush regime, but who will be pressed into service for Obama’s successor.
We can’t rely on mainstream media to relate our demands; we can’t fail to challenge them to do so. We’ve got to use every outrage as a way of educating people to understand that these wars are fundamentally against the interests of the people living in this country, and of those who are occupied… and that your government is lying to you.
All that said, World Can’t Wait will continue to be in the streets with visible protest, weekdays, weekends, and when it can make a difference. We’re determined to expand the We Are Not Your Soldiers program, bringing veterans of Iraq & Afghanistan into high school classrooms.
There is nothing like coming face to face with someone who has “been there” to burst illusions about what being an occupier is like. There’s an 85% chance that someone joining the military now will be sent to a combat zone. They will be trained to follow orders that involve the commission of war crimes and violations of civilians’ rights, and not to question those orders. Someone who has seen what that training does to themselves and those they occupy can stop kids from going into the military.
That’s a worthwhile effort to stop the wars. I hope you’ll donate to the World Can’t Wait end of year fund-raising drive. Designate your donation for “We Are Not Your Soldiers” if you wish.
War Criminals Watch is joining with the ACLU, Amnesty International, many other organizations, artists and musicians like Tom Morello and Trent Reznor to “flood Twitter” and Facebook today, Thursday, January 21st with messages to #closegitmo. YOU can help, by spreading the word now, and tweeting messages tomorrow about Guantanamo, torture, habeas corpus rights, and more – using the hashtag #closegitmo. You can also “donate” your Facebook status for the day with this message. We want to dominate the social networking discussion on Thursday with the message that torture and the prison at Guantanamo still continue, but must be stopped.
Follow us on Twitter at worldcantwait, and go to the link below to find an image to use for the day on as your Twitter or Facebook avatar. Check out the stream of tweets about closing Guantanamo here.
Thursday January 21st – more than a year since Obama promised Guantanamo would be closed, join us in flooding twitter and facebook with the message to #closegitmo. Use this image for the day as your avatar.
People have been tortured to death at Guantanamo. Read Scott Horton in Harpers: http://tinyurl.com/yleps6f #closegitmo
“How I fought to survive Guantánamo” the former detainee Omar Deghayes http://tinyurl.com/ybolnth #closegitmo
Take action to #closegitmo. We want to know what you think. More than 800 people have taken this survey http://tinyurl.com/ydtp9ju
The Guantanamo Files: the stories of the human beings tortured in our names. http://tinyurl.com/6nezl5 #closegitmo
I was with a small group of protesters today at the new Army Recruiting Center downtown near Ground Zero. Two police cars were called by the recruiters; apparently holding signs saying “Don’t Enlist! Resist!” and handing out hundreds of flyers seemed very dangerous.
A young German literature student stood for a long time, offering help from afar, and asking why people in the US are so quiet about the war. Just then a woman pushing a baby stroller sped by, took a flyer, and said that the recruiters have been open for weeks already — “where have you been?” I had to ask where she had been if it bothers her so much.
400 people took flyers in an hour, dozens of people thanked us, 4 cops glowered at us, 3 self-described ex-Marines screamed at us. The Marine recruiters down the street started sending their guys in dress uniforms to strut up and down the block, so we went down there for awhile, discussing with two new recruits why they were joining. “To keep America safe.” “Because I can learn discipline.”
Elaine Brower told them about her son’s two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, with the Marines. “You’re just going to be killing people there. How is that going to make anyone safe?” She ran it down. They got more and more quiet. After 20 minutes, the Staff Sergeant pulled them back inside, under orders not to engage with us.
We’ll be back on Chambers Street Wednesdays at noon. No doubt this will all get more interesting, and important a thing to be doing.
For immediate release December 17, 2009
Contact: Elaine Brower 917-520-0767
Anti-War Protest at Army’s New Chambers St. Recruiting Center
What: Picket line / Speak-out / Photo op
Where: 143 Chambers Street @ West Broadway
When: 12:00 pm, Friday December 18, 2009
In response to the opening today of the Army’s new recruiting center in downtown Manhattan, opponents of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq announced a protest tomorrow.
World Can’t Wait, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace and members of Military Families Speak Out/NY will be protesting.
Elaine Brower, mother of a US marine who has been deployed to both war zones, said.
“We know that President Obama wants to increase the size of the military by 92,000. The current military is tired and war-weary. They can’t keep sending these same guys back four times. They’re going nuts. The Army needs to fill those spots, and they will get them any way they can, whether it’s through teaching kids to play violent video games that simulate the killing of other human beings at the Army Experience Center trial project in Philadelphia or setting up near a college where kids are graduating with so much debt and no jobs.”
The Army says it chose the Chambers Street location to be near the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Stuyvesant High School, both located further west on the street.
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On Saturday, December 12, 2009, an antiwar rally was held at Lafayette Square Park by the White House. Speakers included Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges all speaking out against the recent escalation of troops into Afghanistan and against Obama’s wars. This is my speech.
Americans may think that after Obama’s speech at West Point Academy to call for 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and after Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech,which laid out clear guidelines for waging a just war and how those guidelines will be followed during the oncoming surge in Afghanistan, there is no reason for Americans to voice their disapproval of the war.
However, a coalition of antiwar organizers, peace and justice advocates, and citizens of conscience disagree and are not willing to accept Obama’s efforts to deflect criticism and tamp down outrage toward the Afghanistan War. Hundreds if not thousands of people will be in Lafayette Square nearby the White House in Washington, D.C. today at 11 am ET.
Rally organizers have put together a roster of speakers that include consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, former Sen. Mike Gravel, Kathy Kelly, Chris Hedges, David Swanson, Gael Murphy, Debra Sweet, and others opposed to current U.S. war policies in the Middle East.
The rally will directly call for vigorous opposition to the military escalation in Afghanistan and a rejection of defeatist thinking and futile rationales, which have been hampering the anti-war movement in America.
Laurie Dobson, a lead organizer of the rally believes it is the peace community’s responsibility “to focus on peace and justice for the world’s people and for our people. And the reason she and others are taking action is because the peace movement must be the consciences for our leaders” especially when they choose expansion of war rather than a phased withdrawal of war.
Speakers will directly challenge Obama’s bizarre justifications for continuing the war in Afghanistan especially the idea that expanding a war is the best way to prepare for a withdrawal.
For example, Ralph Nader recently wrote in his In the Public Interest column, “To say as Obama inferred in his Oslo speech that the greater plunge into Afghanistan is self-defense, with proportional force and sparing civilians from violence is a scale of self-delusion or political cowardliness that is dejecting his liberal base.”
There is no real way to gauge right now how disenchanted liberals and progressives might become with Obama but if he stays the course, this surge could create a trap for Democrats in this country.
Cynthia McKinney says in Congress Republicans may be willing to support Obama and vote for his war legislation now but come 2012 they will put up their own candidate. She suspects that voters will remember Obama’s actions on U.S. wars and Obama could be in trouble.
Elaine Brower, who is with Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) and who will be speaking at the rally, thinks many didn’t expect Obama to do this because his rhetoric suggested he would act differently when elected president.
Brower suggests people of this country look past his rhetoric and see the politician. She says Obama is trying to sell the American people a war that isn’t really a war because we aren’t really fighting anybody; we are really just waging a massive occupation that is resulting an enormous loss of human lives.
Those participating in the rally see this as a way of reigniting the fire within a movement that unfortunately chose to temper their opposition during Obama’s presidential campaign and now his first year in office.
For those wondering why they should be participating in any actions that allow people to show they oppose the Afghanistan War, Matthis Chiroux, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War who will be speaking at the rally, thinks the Nobel Peace prize speech Obama gave should give people reason to oppose this war.
Chiroux hopes all would resist this war because “Americans did not elect Obama to wage war but to wage peace instead.”
Kathy Kelly, a peace advocate who has visited and witnessed firsthand the impact of conflict in Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Sarajevo is convinced that “if the U.S. public can recognize the folly of the war in Iraq, followed by the folly of the war in Afghanistan, and then recognize the folly of maintaining 700-900 bases around the world” then we will be able to stop these wars.
She hopes people that are retired and still have a lot of energy will “use their twilight years to ensure that there will be an inhabitable world for those grandchildren.” And she hopes parents who love their children will begin to recognize the choices ahead, engage in the community, change their lifestyle, and let the elected leaders know Americans won’t accommodate their ruthless warmongering behavior anymore.
Chris Hedges, Truthdig.com columnist and author whose most recent book is The Empire of Illusion, will also be a speaker at the rally and suggests that, “A lot of this is about doing something rather than doing nothing and attempting to influence events because it’s clear the Democratic Party has betrayed us.”
Hedges understands no antiwar organizer or leader can promise it will work but “if we do nothing, we’re guaranteeing that the imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will go on for years.”
“It’s all we have left,” says Hedges. “Unless people get out in the street and actively build grassroots opposition against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s going to be never-ending war.”
“So let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees he’s outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.”
-President Barack Obama, December 10th, 2009, from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech
When Obama remarked on young protestors awaiting the brutality of their government, he probably wasn’t thinking about the hundreds of Afghan university students who have been rallying against a U.S.-led raid earlier this week, an act of brutality that resulted in civilian deaths. He probably wasn’t referring to how four civilians protesting the raid were gunned down by Afghan troops, which NATO and the U.S. are using to successfully wage war and occupation in Afghanistan.
How does one reconcile the acceptance of a peace prize with the deployment of 30,000 more troops to a country for a war? How does one rationalize the continued use of NATO forces and Afghan security forces to further destabilize and ruin one of the poorest countries in the world with rhetorical flourishes that reference historic peace advocates like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.?
A new coalition of antiwar organizations, peace and justice advocates, and citizens of consience in America aim—the End U.S. Wars Coalition—aims to address such questions and will come together this weekend for a rally on Saturday, Dec. 12th, in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. Not far from the White House, they will challenge the Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama and his administration to halt the escalation in Afghanistan and stop the war crimes being committed in countries throughout the Middle East by U.S. forces.
Laurie Dobson, a lead organizer for the rally, intends to make sure Obama knows there is a consequence for his decisions. Dobson wants leaders from Congress to the White House to know the antiwar movement will respond to decisions for escalation or expansion of U.S. wars.
Organizers behind this End US Wars Rally also seek to engage and energize fellow citizens to challenge this “war party mentality” and also reject defeatist thinking and futile rationales, which have had a demobilizing effect on the antiwar movement in the past year.
Lynne Williams, a Green Party candidate for governor in Maine who will be speaking at the rally, says, “There’s a need for visibility.”
Williams explains, “A lot of people including a lot of progressive democrats really believed Barack Obama’s rhetoric and thought, ‘Let’s give him a chance. It can’t be worse than Bush and Cheney.’ Yeah, it can. It can be at least as bad if not worse. And the way it can be worse is not because Barack Obama does not have perhaps more of a moral compass but because so many people in the movement at least until recently” were not out visibly protesting war because Obama is president.
National World Can’t Wait leader Debra Sweet, who will be speaking at the event, explains that World Can’t Wait is participating in the first national rally since Obama announced the surge of the troops to Afghanistan because his campaign promise to make Afghanistan into a good war and increase U.S. forces should not be tolerated.
Sweet, along with other organizers, are compelling all Americans, from those who didn’t vote for Obama to those who still believe in the power of Obama to bring peace to the world, to come and join in the antiwar movement’s action this weekend.
“I really welcome the people who voted for Obama and in a sense the people still hoping for the best to be a part of it,” says Sweet. She adds, “Those of us who did not vote for Obama and were concerned for this very thing—We have to stick to our principles and keep making a noise about it and pull as many people into reality if we can.”
Sweet and others speaking and organizing for this rally believe the time is now for Americans to assess the reality of the situation. The people of this country should be educating their friends and neighbors on the situation in Afghanistan and at home. They should be providing information for understanding the true implications for expanding the Afghanistan War.
“Whether Obama stated something in his campaign or not, that doesn’t mean we fall behind his campaign promises whether they went in a certain direction or not. We have to hold him to account to be the best representative of the people that we can,” says Dobson. “The campaign is over but the process of becoming a respectable president has begun and he has fallen so short and it has become apparent to even the most hardened Democrats that he never was a true antiwar candidate.”
worldcantwait.net Contact: (866) 973-4463 Debra Sweet
Anti-War Group Accepts Wisdom of Nobel Prize Award
Obama War Escalation Speech Convincing: War = Peace
The U.S. organization “The World Can’t Wait,” having organized weeks of protest against President Barack Obama’s escalation of troops to Afghanistan, said today:
We’re surprised to learn President Obama will be traveling to Oslo, as it was our understanding that he had given his Nobel acceptance speech at West Point on December 1. The speech, echoing 8 years of George Bush’s justifications, and stating his aim to ‘win’ the war was enough to convince us that aggressive war means peace.
We hope the Nobel Committee is satisfied that the increase of U.S. troops to Afghanistan is enough to merit the prize, given their statement in October that “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
We concur with the Nobel Committee that doubling the size of the prison at Baghram airport, setting up “black” detention sites, and stepped up counterinsurgency in Helmand and Kandarhar provinces, are outstanding examples of the kind of “cooperation between peoples” it cited in awarding Obama. And Obama’s commitment to international diplomacy is only underscored by his administration’s refusal to take the military option off the table towards Iran, and by enacting the largest military budget in world history.
To those cynics who point out that Obama is now Commander in Chief of two pre-emptive wars widely considered to have been launched in contravention of international law, we point out that while General Stanley McChrystal publicly demanded 80,000 more troops, Obama pledged an increase of only 30,000. And, now, Secretaries Gates and Clinton have made the strongest assurances that there is no date or plan to withdraw them.
To those who cringe at the use of un-manned robot drones on the sovereign country of Pakistan and fear that killing civilians will only make more people hate the United States, we remind them that the hundreds of innocents are being killed by a commander who won the Peace Prize. So shut up.
To those who find some irony in the prize being awarded on December 10, International Human Rights Day, and are concerned that Obama, who promised to close Guantanamo, has released fewer detainees than the Bush administration, and has revived the military commission trials decried by the world, we remind you that this President is committed to the rule of law. Remember, as former Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice said, “If the President does it, it can’t be against the law,” and quit your whining about international law and standards.
Further, we are encouraged and gratified to learn that the Committee has decided to rename its Peace Prize in honor of George Orwell in coming years.
Those who reject doublespeak, are invited Thursday, December 10, to join the War Resisters League & World Can’t Wait at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza (East 47th & 1st Avenue) marching down 42nd Street to Times Square Recruiting Station with symbolic coffins, in an anti- war protest as President Obama receives the Peace Prize.