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September 11 families

By Lee Wengraf | February 22, 2002 | Page 11

NEW YORK--"Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows,'" said David Potorti, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., at the February 14 press conference to launch Peaceful Tomorrows, an antiwar organization founded by family members of September 11 victims. "We do not condone the killing of innocent civilians anywhere in the world," said Potorti from a podium where he was joined by eight other family members.

David's brother James was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11. Family members used the event, which was jammed with reporters, to denounce the bombing in Afghanistan and other aspects of Bush's "war on terrorism."

Robin Therkauf, a political science professor at Yale whose husband was killed at the World Trade Center, said she was taking the opportunity to speak out against the death penalty and capital charges against accused terrorists. Ryan Amundsen, whose brother also died on September 11, denounced the "9/11-related hate crimes here in the U.S."

Two members of the group--Rita Lasar and Kelly Campbell--traveled to Afghanistan in December 2001 with the group Global Exchange to meet Afghan civilians who lost relatives in the U.S. bombing. Lasar and Campbell described the devastation in Afghanistan caused by the U.S., including children injured by cluster bombs and homes destroyed.

Peaceful Tomorrows has set up the Afghan Sister Families Fund for Afghan bombing victims, and they're trying to meet with George W. Bush to ask him to allocate money for the fund.

Members of the group refuse to allow Bush to justify warmongering in their names. "The important thing is not being afraid to speak out," Phyllis Rodriguez told Socialist Worker. Phyllis wrote a widely circulated letter called "Not in Our Son's Name" to the New York Times with her husband Orlando Rodriguez to denounce Bush's drive to war.

"We spend $200 million a day on war," said Colleen Kelly, another family member. "If we had invested that money in Afghanistan before--in infrastructure, schools, the economy--I believe things might have been different. We might not have seen this war."

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