News and reports
August 15, 2003 | Pages 10 and 11
Veterans for Peace
SAN FRANCISCO--Continuing the fight to bring American troops home from Iraq and vowing to support current GIs who are questioning their mission there, Veterans for Peace held its annual conference in San Francisco's historic Veterans Building this past weekend, August 8 and 9. More than 300 veterans from across the nation attended workshops on issues including world politics, veterans' affairs, domestic repression and the antiwar movement.
Members of U.S. Labor Against War and Military Families Speak Out, two prominent antiwar/anti-occupation groups, spoke about their work and the effort to further involve veterans in the movement against U.S. militarism. "During a time when we have troops in the field dying for no good reason," said Marc Kiselicka, a Vietnam War veteran who attended the conference, "it ends the isolation, frustration and helplessness to get together and speak out against the war."
Organizers of the event were heartened by the growth of Veterans for Peace over the past year, during which the group has more than doubled its membership, due primarily to the movement against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Especially noteworthy is the rise in women members, said Veterans for Peace National Board member George Johnson.
The conference also focused on the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, hosting speakers on the subject. Members also made Rachel Corrie, a young American protester who was killed by a bulldozer last spring as she attempted to stop the destruction of a Palestinian home, an honorary member of the organization. In addition, peace and justice organizations from throughout the Bay Area were on hand to distribute information and network with veterans.
SAN FRANCISCO--In a promising indication of a rekindling of antiwar protest, more than 400 people attended a march protesting the U.S. occupation of Iraq on August 9.
Before the march began, activists congregated to listen to speakers condemn the brutal treatment of Iraqis under U.S. occupation. Spirits were high as the protesters filled the streets and marched, making their voices of opposition heard. "Jobs and education, not war and occupation!" chanted demonstrators. Joining the march was Veterans for Peace, an organization founded by ex-service members devoted to exposing the horrors that war creates through sharing their personal experiences in the military.
Protesters sent a message to the Bush administration that they will not stand by as the U.S. commits atrocities in Iraq under the guise of liberation. In the words of demonstrators, "No blood for oil! U.S. off Iraqi soil!"
APPROXIMATELY 2,000 Texans from around the state rallied at the state capitol in Austin Saturday August 9 to protest the redistricting fiasco.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is trying to force through House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (R-Tex.) order for more Republican seats in Congress with a second special session of the legislature. DeLay's scheme is undemocratic and racist. It would eliminate many districts with large or majority Black and Latino populations to give Republicans a lock on the U.S. House of Representatives.
Near the end of the regular legislative session earlier this year, the Texas state representatives known as the Killer Bees made off to Oklahoma to prevent a quorum. A blocker bill was introduced to kill a new, but still absurdly drawn, redistricting bill in the first special session. The first session was adjourned and a second called within minutes, with plans to suspend the two-thirds majority rule for a quorum and lock Democratic legislators in the chamber.
To prevent this power grab, 11 Democratic senators headed for New Mexico to prevent a quorum. They are threatening to stay there until redistricting is killed, and Texas lawmen are having no part of a roundup. Now the Republicans have sued to force the eleven back to vote, and the Democrats have sued to declare the redistricting plan illegal. The plan, if passed, would meet numerous court challenges. Texans foresee mounting legal fees adding to the huge budget deficit.
The rally as planned was largely a Democrat love-fest with family members of the Senate 11 speaking and a patriotic rendition of "God Bless America" and the pledge of allegiance. The majority of the crowd, however, were not party faithful and spoke of their anger at Bush and DeLay and the failure of government to meet their needs.