Tag: Iraq Moratorium

Even the Army gets the spirit on Moratorium day

What do we do in Milwaukee when the temperature finally hits 70 degrees? Go to the lakefront? Grill brats in the back yard? Skinny dip? Take off our longjohns?

If it’s the Third Friday — Iraq Moratorium day –we meet in the heart of downtown for an hour, fill all four corners of the intersection with people, flags, banners and enthusiasm, and call for an end to the war and occupation. We had a diverse group of kids, college students, parents, and grandparents, about 70 in all, counting one small dog with a “Puppy for Peace” jacket.

We’re getting used to support from rush hour drivers, who honked their horns almost non-stop tonight, including a lot of county bus drivers and one trucker driving a huge tractor-trailer with a big air horn. One driver got out of his car (while the light was red) to chat and say something supportive to one of the vigilers. We leaflet pedestrians, and one young Iranian couple, downtown shopping, stopped to express their support. But our favorite anecdote of the day was the two Army recruiters who drove past in an Army vehicle — while one of them gave the protesters a thumbs-up.

The chain gang

‘We mourn the dead from Iraq’

This report by Joy First of Madison WI is among posts on the Iraq Moratorium website from participants in Moratorium activities this month:

We Mourn the Dead from Iraq – 9th Iraq Moratorium

As part of the Iraq Moratorium, eight activists in Madison, WI participated in a solemn vigil at Hilldale Mall on May 16, 2008, calling for an end to the war and occupation in Iraq.  This was, in the words of Gandhi, “an experiment in truth” as we pushed to see how far we could go in speaking out against the utter devastation and the crippling suffering of the people of Iraq.  Two of us had been in court the day before and were found guilty of trespassing after we were arrested for speaking out against the war at Hilldale Mall in February.

Three of us wore paper mache masks of Iraqi women and long dark gowns and we carried paper mache babies, one who was severely hurt.  The masks sat on the top of our heads with scarves over the back of the masks that hung down and came around covering our faces.  We could only see faintly as we looked through the light-weight fabric over our face.  The expressions on the faces of the masks, the Iraqi women, were haunting.  

The other five people in our group handed out leaflets about the suffering of Iraqi women, and carried signs saying “We mourn the dead from Iraq’ as we walked in a slow and solemn procession through the mall.  We planned to stay there and march for one hour from 5:30-6:30 pm unless we were arrested before then.  There were not a lot of people inside the mall, but those who were seemed very interested in our procession and gratefully accepted a leaflet.  A good number thanked us for being there or made other positive comments.  It was a very powerful experience, very sad, wearing the masks and carrying the babies who were hurt.  I have been spending a lot of time with my grandchildren, including my newest granddaughter, Linnea, just one week old on the day of our action, and I was feeling very emotional thinking about the suffering of the children of Iraq.

Mall security asked us to leave and said we could march outside (which was surprising because I believe that is still private property).  We went outside because there were a lot of people eating at outside seating at several restaurants adjoining the mall and we were able to walk by them and hand out leaflets.

When we walked back inside the mall, we met the police and they told us we must leave.  We decided to go outside again and the police told us we could stay there as long as wanted, but if we came back inside, there would be a physical arrest.  I asked the police if this wasn’t private property outside the mall, and the police said it was not, but I believe they are wrong about that. They explained a physical arrest would mean they would handcuff us, transport us downtown, book us, and we would have to pay bail to be released.  We were surprised to hear this.  We follow the principles and guidelines of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and others doing nonviolent civil resistance to speak out against the war crimes of our government.  The police in Madison have always arrested us, wrote a citation on the spot, and released us.  When we asked why they would respond with a physical arrest, they said that when the bad behavior continues, they have to take us in.  Bad behavior??!!??  Us??!!??  I wonder when someone in law enforcement will have the guts to arrest Bush and his cronies for their bad behavior – war crimes against humanity.  We walked for a few more minutes and at 6:30 we left the mall.  However, we plan to return and continue our commitment to work for peace, calling attention to the devastating human suffering resulting from the crimes of our government.

Would McCain end the war before Obama or Hillary?

Not hardly.

But, in honor of Iraq Moratorium #9, being observed today, it seems worth asking the question. (And with the trifecta in the headline, I thought maybe someone over at the orange blog, where my cross-posts go to die, will click on it.)

McCain’s hallucination  vision of what would happen in his presidency:

“By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom,” McCain said in a speech in Columbus, Ohio.

“The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced,” McCain said.

Wouldn’t that be loverly?

What’s this Moratorium doohicky, anyway? A primer

I’ve been writing in this space about the Iraq Moratorium for months now, and it’s coming around again tomorrow, Friday, May 16.

But it occurred to me that some may be asking themselves, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” So, back to the basics:  A simple Q-A, slightly modified from the website, about what this Moratorium thingy is trying to accomplish.

And quit calling me Alfie.

* * *

The Iraq Moratorium project grew out of the frustration the organizers share with so many Americans. Why does the war grind on when the people of this country have so clearly rejected it? Clearly voting didn’t do the job. In response to questions like these, the idea of the Iraq Moratorium took shape.

* I really hate this war and what it’s doing to my country, but I’ve never protested. I am not sure that I would be comfortable at a vigil or peace march.

If you do attend a vigil or other protest, you will probably be surprised at how many people very much like you are present. You’ll also find that being part of a group action can be inspiring and motivating.  But if that’s not your thing, or there’s nothing going on in your community, there are many other ways to take a stand as an individual. Wear a black armband or ribbon on Moratorium Day. Call or write your elected officials that day or send a letter to the editor of the local paper. Donate to a peace group.  Put a sign in your yard or window.

Whatever you do, you’ll be doing with lots of other people. And whatever you do, we hope you will fill out the easy report form on the Moratorium website, to let others know what you did.

* I’ve already done all this. What good will this do?

We know. So have we. That’s where the Moratorium idea came from. Imagine that even half the people who have stood up to end the war over the last five years were joined by even a tenth of all those who oppose the war privately – on the same day! It would be the biggest single outcry of protest in US history. And it will continue month after month until Washington listens and ends the war.  

Ironing boards for peace

San Francisco organizers are taking it to the streets — their ironing board, that is.

Here’s what they’re suggesting as an Iraq Moratorium activity on Friday, the ninth monthly Moratorium action:

Make a difference – join us in neighborhood outreach! Stand at an ironing board at a busy location with a partner to help you and speak to that frustrated, angry person who doesn’t know what to do. Get them to write a message on a postcard to their congressperson or presidential candidate. It’s fun, people are so appreciative and eager to speak out! In an hour or two you will reach 50+ people. Please help, choose a time and location of your choice, we have materials! Locations: Golden Gate Park, City Hall, Farmer’s market, 9th and Irving, City College, Tenderloin and more.

One woman who’s tried it out lately says that is an effective way to engage people and get them to do something.  Why an ironing board?  They’re portable, quick and easy to set up, and allow people to write standing up.

Progressive organizers have spent many hours over the years sitting behind tables filled with literature, signs, petitions, and buttons — so many that the act of sitting at such a table has developed into a verb.  They call it “tabling.”

One of these days, will we be at a meeting where we hear talk of “ironing boarding?”

The ironing boards are but one facet of plans for Iraq Moratorium #9 on Friday, as evidenced by more than 100 events listed at the Moratorium website.

Cincinnati’s Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center will sponsor half a dozen neighborhood vigils in different parts of the city on Friday night.  

In Manitou Springs CO, Iraq Veterans Against the War will sponsor “Words of Resistance,” an evening of poetry and spoken word from Iraq veterans, and a chance to share your own as well.

In Naples FL, a group of military veterans and spouses from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and parentswho have sons in Iraq will hold a roadside vigil.

In Chicago, it’s Art Against war, with a night of music and poetry at the Heartland Cafe.

And in Laramie WY, there will be a vigil on the corner where there has been a vigil every Friday since January 2003.  In Lansing MI there’s been a Friday vigil at the State Capitol since September, 2001.  Oak Park IL has more than five years of vigils as well.

There’s a full list on the website, along with some ideas about what you can do as an individual if you can’t find or attend an action where you live.

The whole idea is to do something — anything — to show your opposition to the war, whether it’s wearing an armband or writing your members of Congress or donating to a peace group working to end the war and occupation.  Or get out your own ironing board and do some outreach.  All it takes to have an action is two people and a sign.  Or maybe one person and an ironing board.

Friday’s the day.  Please do something.


UFPJ encourages Iraq Moratorium participation

By Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator, UFPJ:

Since last fall, on the third Friday of every month, people in cities and towns around the country have organized protest activities and other events as part of the nationally coordinated Iraq Moratorium. This coming Friday, May 16th, is Iraq Moratorium #9.

First, we want to congratulate the local organizers who keep pulling together these activities. And we also want to congratulate the national organizers who have maintained and expanded this effort, including the Iraq Moratorium website at: www.IraqMoratorium.org

Second, we want to encourage more local groups to get involved. There is still time to organize something in your community, at your school or workplace, or anywhere you might be able to reach people.

You can find reports from past Moratorium actions, as well as listings for events already planned for this Friday, at the Iraq Moratorium website. Reading through all of this will inspire you and might give you an idea of something you can do as part of this project. If you do plan something, please be sure to list it on the calendar.

Finally, if you are planning something for May 16, try to take some photos or video. Then we hope you’ll take a few minutes to go back to the site and post a report on what happened — not just numbers but anecdotes, descriptions of who came, etc. If you have them, include photos or video. What you do, and the stories you tell, can inspire others for future actions.

Again, the website for the Iraq Moratorium is www.IraqMoratorium.org – be sure to check it out!

(UFPJ — United for Peace and Justice — is the nation’s largest peace coalition, with more than 1,400 affiliated organizations.)

‘What about our own culpability’ for the Iraq war?

Kathy Kelly has more than paid her dues in the movement for peace through non-violence, putting herself in harm’s way and risking her freedom.

She is the latest endorser of the Iraq Moratorium, a growing grassroots initiative which will be observed on Friday, May 16, as it is on the third Friday of each month.  (She explains her endorsement below.)

The co-coordinator of Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kelly helped initiate Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end UN/US sanctions against Iraq in 1996. For bringing “medicine and toys” to Iraq in open violation of the UN/US sanctions, she and other campaign members were fined $20,000, which they’ve refused to pay.

Voices in the Wilderness organized 70 delegations to visit Iraq in the period between 1996 and the beginning of the “Operation Shock and Awe” warfare (March 2003). Kelly has been to Iraq 24 times since January 1996. In October 2002, she joined Iraq Peace Team members in Baghdad where she and the team maintained a presence throughout the bombardment and invasion. Kelly left Iraq on April 19, 2003 and has returned three times, most recently in May of 2006 when she traveled to northern Iraq.

Along with three other Voices activists, Kathy was in Beirut, Lebanon during the final days of the Israel-Hezbollah war in the summer of 2006. (Photo at right.) They subsequently reported from southern Lebanon following a ceasefire.

In the spring of 2004, she served three months at Pekin federal prison for crossing the line as part of an ongoing effort to close an army military combat training school at Fort Benning, GA. In 1988 she was sentenced to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites. Kelly served nine months of the sentence in Lexington KY maximum security prison.

She is currently organizing Witness Against War 2008,a nonviolent walk for peace from Chicago to the site of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Kathy Kelly: Why I endorse the Iraq Moratorium

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.

No Backs, No Bras,

just young men and women protesting the war.

In my first ever photo diary.

A couple days ago, I covered the Two War Criminals For The Price Of One protest in Kent, Connecticut. When Glenn Koetzer of the Iraq Moratorium: Cornwall Edition sent me some photographs of the demonstration, I was surprised–to say nothing of delighted–at how many young people had showed up during a weekday to stand against the war-mongering tagteam of Henry Kissinger and George W. Bush.

My most recent piece continued in the same celebratory vein, only younger still. I shared the discovery I had just made that some fifth grade students at the Fratney School in Milwaukee, who’ve been regulars at the Third Friday Iraq Moratorium actions there, have their own website as Kids Against the War.

I sure hope this youth trend in the anti-war movement accelerates–check out the pix and you will too.

Standing together, in groups big and small, for peace

From our friends at the Iraq Moratorium:

Reports from Moratorium Day #8, just over a week ago, are still coming in and being posted on the Iraq Moratorium website, and a few got us thinking. One report, our first ever from Point Arena, CA said:

Three of us came out to honor Iraq Moratorium on Friday, April 18, 2008 in front of the local post office.

We carried a sign and displayed it prominently, and we handed out flyers to interested people.

The weather was very cold and exceptionally windy; I think that kept people away. However, we felt really good about joining people all over the U.S. to stand against the Iraq war.

Looked at in a vacuum, three people doesn’t sound too impressive, does it? Well, we Googled Point Arena. It’s a tiny rural town with a population of 486. Not an easy place to build an anti-war presence. And for us, their conclusion gets to the essence of the Moratorium:

“We felt really good about joining people all over the U.S. to stand against the Iraq war.”

Fifth Graders Stand Against the War

The best part of this diary is going beneath the fold, because this time it’s all about the pictures . Yesterday I posted a report here on the demonstration against Bush and Henry Kissinger in rural Connecticut. In reviewing the fabulous photo album posted by Cornwall CT Iraq Moratorium stalwart Glenn Koetzer, I was struck and I was heartened by how many young folks were at the protest.

Then today, I found the Kids Against the War website and that really did my aging heart good. They’re a crew from the fifth grade class at the Fratney School in Milwaukee, WI. They’ve been participating in the Milwaukee protests observing the Iraq Moratorium on the Third Friday of every month all year, and now they’ve posted some photos and explanations of why they got involved.

Milwaukee Moratorium: Spring sorta sprung

Just so you know it doesn’t snow year-round in Milwaukee, Friday’s Iraq Moratorium vigil was our largest rally since the first one in September, with 80 people of all ages on the four corners of downtown’s main intersection at rush hour.

It was very spirited, with large student contingents from Fratney Street Elementary School and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Progressive Students organization, and a few high schoolers, too.  Iraq Veterans Against the War, Peace Action Wisconsin, Veterans for Peace and Kids for Peace were all represented, with lots of creative signs.  A dog urging “Bones, not bombs” also joined us.

Flags, signs, banners, music from a boom box and a return of the chaing gang — Bush, Cheney and Rice in their prison suits — all added to the upbeat atmosphere.  Fifty degree weather, the warmest in months, didn’t hurt either. Huge positive responses from passers-by who honked their horns, waves and yelled encouragement, with rarely a discouraging word.  After a long, cold, dark winter of monthly vigils, this was rejuvenating.

The UW-Milwaukee contingent.

More reports about other actions are beginning to trickle in to the Iraq Moratorium website

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