Tag: Wisconsin

From the heartland: A rationale for the Iraq Moratorium

We’ve written in the past about the hardy and dedicated folks up in Hayward, in northern Wisconsin, who have led the nation in participation in the Iraq Moratorium, which will be observed again on next Friday, May 16.

They’ve turned out 80 people in a city of 2,100 for the monthly Third Friday vigil at a highway intersection — a participation rate that would translate nationally into 12 million people in the streets.

Wisconsin has more events each month than any other state except California, with seven times the population, in large part because the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, a statewide coalition of 150 groups, has encouraged its affiliates to take part.

Not resting on their laurels, two of the organizers of the Hayward vigils have written the following piece, which was distributed statewide by WNPJ. Please take the time to read it all the way through, so you don’t miss the powerful quote at the end from Martin Murie:

Rationale for participating in the Iraq Moratorium – “Let’s Work Together”

Dear Concerned Citizens,

When Russ Feingold was at his Sawyer County listening session in Hayward this last February, Peace North member Dan Krause (in front of one hundred people) informed him that Wisconsin is leading the nation, per capita, in Iraq Moratorium monthly events.  As north woods folks are sometimes inclined to do, Dan followed up with a bit of brag by telling Feingold that Hayward, per capita, is leading the nation in turnout for these events.  Much to our delight, Feingold responded that he was well aware of that fact!  After the session, he shook Dan’s hand and told him to “keep up the good work.”

Less than a week later Senator Feingold introduced troop re-deployment legislation, yet again, onto the floor of the Senate, telling his colleagues that at listening sessions throughout Wisconsin in January and February his constituents made it clear that they wanted an end to the war in Iraq.  Three weeks later almost 70 people came out again in Hayward for the March Iraq Moratorium Day to stand for peace.  Many folks said they felt like they owed it to Senator Feingold to take a stand.

An economic stimulus for the antiwar movement?

Is the U.S. Treasury, which can’t print money fast enough to pay for the trillion-dollar tragedy in Iraq, about to give an economic stimulus to peace organizations working to stop the war?

It seems highly unlikely, but if it doesn’t happen it won’t be because the antiwar folks haven’t tried.  Many seem to be on the same wave length as an email I received yesterday from United for Peace and Justice:

Spend your stimulus check on peace! The sooner the war ends, the more money the nation saves. Not to mention the lives and futures of millions of people. So let’s use the stimulus money to stop the war, bring all of the troops home and get the nation’s budget back on track.

We invite you to spend your stimulus check, or some portion of it, on the one thing the Bush administration doesn’t want you to invest in: Help strengthen the peace and justice movement!

Steve Burns, a staffer for the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, like UFPJ a coalition of many groups, didn’t even wait to get his check.  He wrote to President Bush in March to tell him how he was spending his stimulus check:

Picketing Bill: “Where’s Jacki’s Medicine?”

Just back from Bill Clinton’s appearance at the historic Stock Pavilion on the University of Wisconsin Campus. When Gary Storck and I approached, we were directed across the street by the most polite pair of Secret Service agents I’ve ever dealt with, but, as it’s a narrow street, not an unreasonable “Free Speech Zone.”

Our signs referred to Bill’s encounter, as a Candidate, with Jacki Rickert of Mondovi, Wisconsin in 1992. Jacki had been approved for the federal medical marijuana program, but not yet admitted when Bush I closed the program to new admissions in 1989. She caught up with Bill in Osseo on his post-Convention Mississippi River bus tour. After she explained her odyssey through the federal bureaucracy, Bill “I feel your pain” promised “When I’m President, you’ll get your medicine.”

Come the Inaugural, Jacki sent letters, made calls seeking fulfillment of that commitment, but got back only form letters. “If drugs were legal, my brother Roger would be dead.”

Delivering on this promise would not have required action by the Congress, as the Controlled Substances Act does not prohibit medical use of Cannabis, rather, it requires a permit, issued at the discretion of the Secretary of HHS. At the time Jacki was blocked, there were 14 patients receiving medical marijuana from the government’s pot farm in Mississippi. They were grandfathered in. 4 survive, and get monthly deliveries.

As Bill disembarked today, we caught his eye, and I was close enough to shout, “You priomised Jacki Rickert you’d get her Medical Marijuana in 1992.”

If I’m correctly reading body language, he turned to State Democratic Chair Joe Wineke, asking “what’s that about?”  Joe knows Jacki’s story, he was around for the ceremony last fall on the introduction in the Wisconsin Assembly of the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act.  

Warm welcome planned for McCain on Iraq Moratorium day

Antiwar activists are planning a warm welcome for John “100-Year-War” McCain when he brings his campaign to Wisconsin on Iraq Moratorium day Friday.

McCain, fresh from a complete flip-flop on torture, comes to the Mississippi River city of LaCrosse for a town hall meeting at the Radisson Hotel.  McCain voted Wednesday against a ban on waterboarding,which passed the Senate 51-45.

Wisconsin’s primary is next Tuesday.

Coulee Progressives are organizing the “welcome” in LaCrosse:

Get Your Protest Shoes On!!

This is Peace Country, where the City of La Crosse along with 32 other cities in WI voted in 2005/06 to bring the troops home back. It’s time we tell those who would bring us deeper into war, that violence is not the answer.

Please come to express your voice for peace this FRIDAY from 3-4 outside the La Crosse Radisson Ballroom. Let’s tell John McCain that war is not the answer.

It’s time to speak out for the unemployed, the underemployed, the sick, those w/o health insurance. It’s time to end the deaths of children and families in Iraq, It’s time to speak for solutions that leave nations better off economically and with healthcare. It’s time to say more than, “NO TO WAR”.






University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Progressives announced they plan their own peace protest becasue of McCain’s support for the war in Iraq. Members will meet on campus at 2 p.m. and march to the Radisson Center.

Later in the day, LaCrosse will become the latest Wisconsin community to hold an Iraq Moratorium event, joining 13 others across the state who have planned actions on Friday, Iraq Moratorium #6.  Wisconsin has been a hotbed of Moratorium activity, with 14 events planned on Friday — more than any other state except California, with six times the population.

Nearly 100 events are listed on the Iraq Moratorium website .  The Moratorium asks people to take some action — individually or collectively — on the Third Friday of every month to show their opposition to the war and occupation of Iraq.

Do something on Friday to end the war

Friday is Iraq Moratorium #6, a loosely-knit national grassroots effort to end the war and occupation of Iraq.

Nearly 90 events already are listed on the national website, from sea to shining sea.  They range from street corner vigils to die-ins, with a dash of street theater thrown in. There have been 600-plus events since the Moratorium began in September.

California remains the epicenter of Iraq Moratorium activity, with at least 25 events listed on the site.  (There are many more events that take place across the nation every Moratorium day, but no way to quantify them unless the organizers voluntarily list them on the website.)

If California is the hotbed, Wisconsin is the coldbed of activity, with 13 events listed and at least a few more planned.  Twenty-five states have events on the list. You can easily check at IraqMoratorium.org for one near you.

On the frozen tundra, asking an end to war

There are no photos of this week’s Iraq Moratorium vigil in downtown Milwaukee.  The battery in the digital camera froze.

About 40 people turned out in the bitter cold, and marched with flags, banners, signs and drums past City Hall, then gathered on four corners of the main downtown intersection.

“I was feeling a little wimpy, like maybe it was too cold to come, but I decided that if 70,000 people could go to the Packers game Sunday, when it will be colder than this, I could come out here for an hour to try to stop the war,” one vigiler said.

The tundra was frozen in Hayward, a city of 2,200 in northwestern Wisconsin which has led the nation in percentage of the population turning out for Iraq Moratorium vigils.  Attendance was down from the high of 83 in December, but, as one of the organizers reports on the scene below:


24 determined, (and half crazy!) peace supporters braved 20 below zero windchills to stand for an hour in observance of Iraq Moratorium Day #5. We had mostly encouraging responses from motorists who seemed both delighted, and incredulous, at our presence on the street corner.

At 4:45 p.m. some folks suggested that we knock off early due to the bitterly cold winds, but a couple of hardcore skier/peace types shouted, “No! We came to stand for an hour, and for an hour we’ll stand!” We hunkered down, and at 5 p.m. sharp a great cheer went up as we headed for the warmth of vehicles that had been idling for half an hour in the parking lot. See you in February!!

That’s hard core.

Those are among the reports beginning to trickle in to the Iraq Moratorium website in the wake of Friday’s actions, numbering about 90 across the country.  Typically, many more will be posted during the coming week, many with photos and videos.

In Mountain View, California, where the weather was a bit warmer, the Raging Grannies Action League “welcomed” a new armed forces recruiting station to the neighborhood — and let the recruiters know they were invading the Grannies’ turf.  “Killing and Dying is not a career,” the Grannies said.

Iraq Moratorium #6 falls on February 15, the Third Friday of the month.  Now’s the time to start planning, and share your plans and ideas with others at IraqMoratorium.org

P.S. — Go Pack!

Iraq Moratorium #5 on Friday, January 18

Ready for Iraq Moratorium #5?

The Raging Grannies of Mountain View CA will bring cookies and tea to “welcome” recruiters to a new Armed Forces Career Center to the neighborhood on Friday, January 18 – and to let the recruiters know they are moving into territory occupied by the Grannies, part of a national network of antiwar activists.

A vigil at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Maryland will call for money to be spent helping wounded veterans, not the war.  A march in Brattleboro VT will feature drummers, horns, bagpipes, and dancers.  A public forum in Duluth MN will feature Native American and African American leaders speaking against the war.  

Cheeseheads show how to build a peace movement

If you were looking for excuses for December’s Iraq Moratorium to be smaller than previous ones, there were plenty available. It fell four days before Christmas, on the darkest day of the year, with cold weather in much of the country and campuses closed for winter break.

None of that mattered in Hayward, a city of 2,129 in northwestern Wisconsin, which we’ve reported on previously.  When 40 people turned out there in November, we projected that on a percentage basis that was equivalent to 12,000 people in Milwaukee, 160,000 in New York City, or 6 million nationally.

Puffed up by that kind of publicity here and elsewhere, one of the organizers, Steve Carlson, boldly set a goal of 75 for Iraq Moratorium #4 in December.  He later had some second thoughts, no doubt.

So, what happened? They doubled attendance. Here’s the report:

Muskies, seashells and balloons and organizing for peace

When we last checked in with our intrepid antiwar warriors in Hayward, Wisconsin, they were basking in the afterglow of Iraq Moratorium #3, having turned out some 40 people in a city of 2129 for a roadside vigil. We noted that the same percentage turnout across the nation would put 6 million people in the streets, calling for an and to the Iraq war.

Now comes the local weekly, the Sawyer County Record, to remind us that organizing for peace in a small, rural community is not all seashells and balloons, as Al McGuire used to say (meaning everything was coming up roses.)  The paper reports:

They’ve become a familiar sight at the corner of Highways 63 and 27 in Hayward.

They hold signs. They wave. They usually smile.

They appreciate the honks of support. They tolerate the jeers and middle fingers pointed in their direction


But members of Peace North, which organizes the event, are busy working on turnout for Iraq Moratorium #4 next week, on Friday, December 21.

It’s a challenging time to organize for peace — four days before Christmas, one day before the shortest and darkest day of the year. It’ll be below freezing if not below zero in some parts of the country.  Most campuses will be shut down and students scattered.

Organizers are responding with some creative ideas, many of them holiday-themed to match the goodwill the season seems to generate. More events and plans are being listed every day on the Moratorium website.

“Dress warmly and be ready to sing,” warned organizers of the Patriots for Change peace vigil in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Mall walks, antiwar carols, Santa suits and hats, vigils and actions to reach out to holiday shoppers all are in the works.

In Valley Forge, Pennsylvania the Brandywine Peace Community plans a Christmas candlelight vigil at Lockheed Martin weapons complex,to include: reading of names of Iraq war dead (both Iraqi and U.S.)to the backdrop of Christmas Carols, bell-tolling, poetry and music, reading of the Christmas story and guest minister commentary on “Seeing the World Through Jesus Eyes”.

Check the website for an event near you.  But you don’t need an event to participate in the Iraq Moratorium.  All you need to do is to take some action on December 21 to express your wish for an end to the war.  Wear a button or a black armband to work or school.  Write, call or email your members of Congress.  Put a sign in your yard or hang one on a freeway overpass.   Make a donation.  The list is a long one, and you’ll find many more ideas on the website.

Do what you’re comfortable doing — but do something.

Curse the darkness, but also light a candle.

One closing note:  In our previous post in praise of Hayward, we erroneously identified the city as the Musky Capital of the World.  It turns out that although Hayward does play host to the Musky Festival and is the home of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, which features a musky sculpture half a block long and four and a half stories high, that Hayward is NOT the Musky Capital of the World.

That honor belongs to Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, which guards it zealously.

When one of the Peace North members in Hayward pointed that out, we agreed that when Boulder Junction turned out two per cent of its population for an Iraq Moratorium event we might set the record straight. But we’re doing it now anyway.  How about it, Boulder Junction?  Want to be the Peace Capital of the World?

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