Posted by Next Left Notes - August 28, 2007 | News



Jim Moschella of the War Resisters League spoke at the Stand Up vigil
(Photo: Thomas Good / Next Left Notes)

STATEN ISLAND, NY – August 28, 2008. On Tuesday, August 28, Staten Islanders joined ordinary people from all over the country in holding a vigil to tell Congress that the time to stand up to Bush and redeploy US troops out of the unwinnable civil war in Iraq is NOW. Turnout was high and so were spirits as vigilers engaged people passing by. Drivers and pedestrians honked, cheered and stopped to take photographs. The event concluded with speakers from local antiwar organizations, including a military mom whose son has already done a tour in Afghanistan and another in Iraq – and who might be redeployed. The vigil was sponsored by MoveOn.org and hosted by the Staten Island chapter of Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) and other local antiwar groups.

On a very pleasant August evening, organizers from several different local activist organizations joined together to hold a candlelight vigil at the seat of Staten Island’s local government, Borough Hall, directly across busy Richmond Terrace from the famous Staten Island Ferry. The goal – to let the US Congress know that the world is watching and they need to stand up to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Bush, known for his intellectual rigor mortis, is continuing to promote the fiction that the recent troop “surge” is having a positive effect. Vigil organizers scoffed at this and were insistent that the Congress must bring the troops home now and impeach Bush and Cheney for war crimes as well. The vigil featured signs that said: “Iraq Escalation – Wrong Way”, “Support The Troops – End The War” and “Impeach Them Now”. Several vigilers wore baseball caps that asked the largely rhetorical question: “Impeach Cheney?” Others wore tshirts that demanded “Arrest Bush”. On the sidewalk two pairs of military boots – with the names of fallen soldiers affixed – flanked a peace sign made of votive candles.

“Bush is playing three card monte again – telling voters and Congress that the ‘surge’ is working. I grew up in during the Viet Nam war, I’ve heard all the lies before. It’s time to get our people home before we lose any more lives in a war based totally on lies,” said Tom Good, an organizer with Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS). “I have a twelve year old son. I want more for him than endless war,” he added.

“The surge is a colossal failure. The religious civil war in Iraq is spiraling out of control and our presence there is exacerbating the situation. We aren’t helping anything and our children are coming home maimed and worse – from a war that has already claimed too many lives,” said Elaine Brower, a World Can’t Wait organizer whose son served with the Marines in Iraq – and may be redeployed.

“The reckless policy in Iraq could drag on for another decade if we sit back and allow a crumbling Republican administration to continue their failed policies,” said Devra Morice, a vigil organizer and MDS member.



David Hamilton of MDS at the Stand Up vigil – in Austin, TX
(Photo: Sally Hamilton / MDS)

The vigil, was held simultaneously with similar events in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and featured speakers from Peace Action Staten Island (PASI), The Staten Island Green Party, Movement for a Democratic Society, The World Can’t Wait (WCW), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the War Resisters League (WRL) and Critical Voice.

Sally Jones of Peace Action spoke about the need for concerned citizens to plug into local groups – and to attend a march on Vito Fossella’s Brooklyn office scheduled for September 15, 2007. Jim Moschella of the WRL’s NYC chapter discussed Operation No Recruit – a week of protests at the Times Square recruiting center. John Cronan of Pace SDS spoke about the Iraq Moratorium, scheduled to begin September 21, 2007. Elaine Brower of WCW, whose son James is in the Marine Corps, spoke about the horror of war and the need to remove Bush from office. Rebecca White of the Green Party talked about Counter Recruitment, the achilles heel of the military and Laurie Arbeiter of Critical Voice spoke about a letter writing campaign to House Speaker Pelosi, demanding the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Arbeiter also stressed the need for the American people to make a “citizen’s arrest” of George Bush on September 25, 2007, referring to a protest scheduled to coincide with Bush’s next trip to the United Nations.

About 40 people attended the spirited event and organizers were pleased. The next MDS event is a “Honk For Impeachment” vigil at the SI Ferry Terminal on Sunday, September 2 from Noon to 1 pm. All are welcome.

NLN captured the Stand Up In September vigil in photographs and video clips: View Photos/Videos From The Vigil…

Posted by TAG - August 27, 2007 | News



Amiri Baraka speaks at the People’s March for Peace (Photo: Thomas Good / Next Left Notes)

Newark NJ – August 25, 2007. The People’s March For Peace, Equality, Jobs & Justice was held Saturday, August 25, 2007 in Newark. Various organizations began setting up their tables around 12:00 noon in downtown Newark’s Lincoln Park. A large number of diverse groups turned out for the event which was organized by The Peace & Justice Coalition. A rally featuring keynote speaker Congressman John Conyers, (D) from Detroit’s 14th CD and poet/playwright/activist Amiri Baraka preceded a spirited march. Around 1:30 pm, a long column streamed out of the park and marched north on Broad Street. The procession paused briefly at Military Park before returning to Lincoln Park where additional speakers took the podium.

The march was held on August 25th to coincide with the 44th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington For Jobs & Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, and the second anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. It was also timed to coincide with the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Newark Rebellion.

Speakers at the rally included James Kelley, whose son Clarence Lavon Floyd was killed in Iraq; Reverend William Howard, Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church; James Harris, New Jersey State President, NAACP; Ray Stever, President, New Jersey Industrial Union Council; Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director, New Jersey Peace Action; Jerome Harris, President, New Jersey Black Issues Convention; poet/playwright Amiri Baraka; Lawrence Hamm, Chairman, People’s Organization For Progress, and: Hurricane Katrina survivor and New Orleans resident Alice Craft-Kerney.

John Conyers, Jr., Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, discussed his national health insurance bill (H.R. 676) at the rally and was received warmly although some present wanted him to answer questions about his position on the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney. Conyers declined to comment, saying: “You’re talking about impeachment, let me handle my part of the program for right now…I love you my brother…I’ll see you afterwards”. Conyers was cheered later as he joined the march – making his way up Broad Street in the searing August heat.

Lawrence Hamm said that the event was “part of an ongoing organizing effort to increase African American and Latino participation in the peace movement and to link the struggle to end the war to the struggle for racial, social, and economic justice here at home.” An impressive turnout – and a very diverse crowd – would indicate the organizers have achieved a measure of success.

View Photos/Videos From The March…

Posted by Bill Templer - August 23, 2007 | News


Checkpoint Qalandia, between Ramallah and Jerusalem on the West Bank (Photo: New Profile)

In Israel, an important seminar, “Gender and Militarism,” will take place 23-26 August 2007, in Newe Shalom/Wahat al Salaam, organized by the anti-miltarism NGO New Profile and the WRI. The organization New Profile / Profil Hasash is a prototype left-Zionist largely feminist grouping in Israel – challenging militarism and the militarization of consciousness head-on. The seminar will also see the first presentation of WRI’s upcoming worldwide anthology of women’s conscientious objection. Below is the invitation to the seminar.

Today it is becoming increasingly clear that consistent feminism cannot do without a thorough analysis of militarism and that consistent antimilitarism cannot do without a deep understanding of gender issues in both theory and practice. On the one hand, patriarchy and male dominance crucially rely on militarism, on the way militarism and war shape what is considered to be security, what is considered to be part of the public, rather than private, sphere, and on the constant dangers generated by weaponry and war. On the other hand, manipulating notions of masculinity and femininity is central in motivating people to support war in word and deed, and to take part in it. Gender awareness is also indispensable for effectively resisting war and injustice. The continued marginalisation of women in movements of conscientious objectors to military service around the world gives a living example of how important it is to foster gender awareness in ourselves as antimilitarist activists.

The Gender and Militarism Seminar will bring together activists and academics from all over the world to study the mutual connections between militarism and gender. The seminar is organised by War Resisters’ International together with the Israeli feminist antimilitarist movement New Profile, and will be followed by the annual meeting of the WRI International Council. Topics to be discussed at the seminar include: Gender and the militarization of culture around the world, Willingness to serve and masculinity, Mothers for peace and mothers for war, Sexist public discourse in Israel during the 2nd Lebanon War, Militarised masculinities and femininities, Redefining and demilitarising economic priorities, The concept of security, Militarism and homophobia, Gender, sexuality and military service, Sexual harassments of women in the military, Human rights in the military and the antimilitarist response, Domestic violence after military service, Rape – weapon of war and tool of hate propaganda, Gender in nonviolence training, Gender in the refusal movement, The Palestinian feminist movement, Taking gender analysis serious in our movement work, and many others.

Speakers include noted activists and several academics from South Africa, Ecuador, Macedonia, Russia, and other European countries, the US, and of course, Palestine and Israel.

Posted by TAG - August 21, 2007 | News



Protesters outside the recruiting center (Photo: Thomas Good / Next Left Notes)

New York, NY – August 18, 2007. Emotion was palpable at the Washington Heights protest on Saturday, August 18. A sea of young faces, the majority of the protest contingent, complimented some familiar faces from a number of Left formations – that don’t often work together. A boistrous rally at Bennett Park preceded a militant march to Highbridge Park. Along the march route, protesters stopped at the home of a fallen soldier from the Heights for a moment of silence. A bit further on, the Army recruiting center was surrounded by bullhorn wielding youth as passersby and police looked on. The march resumed and paused yet again at the home of another lost son from the neighborhood. The marchers had clearly had enough of the military preying on their friends and neighbors. Shoppers and other community members who ventured out on a beautiful New York City day expressed solidarity with those who took to the streets to denounce the military’s attempt to hustle their sisters and brothers – offering a war in Iraq under the guise of a college education and financial security. NLN was there and captured the moment in video and photographs. It was an event that inspired all present.


View Videos/Photographs From The Protest…

Posted by TAG - August 17, 2007 | News



Agustin Aguayo speaking at the Brecht Forum (Photo: Thomas Good / Next Left Notes)

New York, NY – August 17, 2007. Iraq War Veteran and War Resister Agustin Aguayo spoke at NYC’s Brecht Forum, Wednesday, August 15. The event was organized by the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) and endorsed by a number of organizations many of which tabled. Recently released from prison, Aguayo is taking his case to the Supreme Court – looking to have his two felony convictions (missing movement and desertion) overturned. The current speaking tour is designed to raise awareness and to raise funds for litigation.

For Aguayo it’s been a long road from enlistment to release from prision – and he remains Army “property” as the Army continues to refuse to recognize his status as a conscientous objector.


Access Audio Clips, Video Clips and Photos From The Event…

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Reprinted From Radical Americas

Towards A Movement for a Democratic Society

Preface

This is a discussion piece written for Radical Americas – an online magazine that Paul Buhle and I edit. The purpose of the piece is to encourage discussion around the practical goal of building MDS – this discussion being a lead up to the MDS Convergence being held in Chicago, November 9-11, 2007. I hope the document is useful in the struggle to create a movement for a democratic society.

Introduction: Who Do We Think We Are?

The project known as Movement for a Democratic Society has a number of faces. We initially formed to offer support to SDS but we also exist as an activist organization in our own right. A number of MDS chapters have formed in recent months and our community organizers are actively working to take back our communities from those who would divide and plunder us. Unfortunately, the press – both the mainstream and the liberal press – has not bothered to follow this emergence of a community based movement, preferring to cover MDS in classic gossip columnist style.

Recently, however, this began to change. On March 19, 2007, a number of MDS activists participated in the Wall Street civil disobedience – three MDS activists were arrested along with 40 other activists. Four days later three more MDS activists were arrested for occupying the office of chickenhawk Congressman Vito Fossella – in an action that involved several organizations working together. Press coverage of this action was excellent and the “Fossella Five” continue to get very favorable coverage from both print and broadcast media. MDS remains at the heart of this effort to force Congressman Fossella to meet with peace activists. See fossellafive.org for more about this campaign which is being coordinated by several organizations: Peace Action Staten Island, MDS and World Can’t Wait.

MDS activists in Austin, Texas have been organizing around the issue of a potential US invasion of Iran. At this point an MDS led initiative has produced almost 300 signatories to an online petition – a petition where the signatories pledge to commit acts of civil disobedience/resistance should the US attack Iran. This initiative, called The Iran Pledge of Resistance, is slowing building. In addition, the Austin chapter has been very active in the creation and distribution of lawn signs against the war. This mechanism for a public display of antiwar sentiment is an example of a local initiative that gets the message out and builds a local chapter.

MDS organizers in Orlando, Florida, have built a viable chapter which they call “Central Florida MDS”. This chapter is special in that its membership includes recent University of Central Florida graduates who were part of UCF SDS. Two of the SDS alumni are now working in the movement – for ACORN and ACLU – and active in their local MDS chapter. The chapter itself is currently engaged in an effort to stop Orlando’s Mayor from using tax monies to fund a local developer’s “pyramid scheme”: the building of “community venues,” a massive one billion dollars worth of “public works” projects that includes refurbishing the Citrus Bowl and building a new performing arts center and arena. MDS is calling for a referendum on how local tax dollars will be spent.

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Posted by TAG - August 11, 2007 | News



Harrison to run against Fossella in 2008 (Photo: Thomas Good / Next Left Notes)

New York, NY – August 9, 2007. Offering what he called a “message of hope”, Democrat Steve Harrison announced his intention to run against chickenhawk Congressman Vito Fossella (R) in 2008. The announcement was made at a press conference held on Thursday, August 9, 2007 – a day behind schedule due to a rare tornado striking Brooklyn and Staten Island on Wednesday. Harrison and his staff assembled in shady Von Briesen park in Staten Island with the Verrazano bridge visible in the background. The symbolism was unmistakable: the span connects southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island – New York’s 13th CD. Harrison indicated that he is starting his campaign earlier than he did in 2006 in order to raise cash. He’ll need it. With the backing of the oil companies, the drug companies, the gun lobby, developers – and Halliburton – Fossella outspent Harrison 15 to 1 in 2006. Despite the inequity, Harrison did remarkably well, surprising the pundits. Local Staten Island activists, Movement for a Democratic Society and Peace Action in particular, have long decried Fossella’s refusal to meet with his constituents, his fondness for misrepresentation of facts and his role in Congress as Bush’s rubber stamp. Harrison echoed these same themes. NLN was there and videotaped the press conference in its entirety.


View Photos and Video From The Press Conference…



(Photo: Thomas Good / Next Left Notes)

New York, NY – August 7, 2007. The visually striking “Eyes Wide Open” display made its way to Staten Island’s Midland Beach on Tuesday, August 7. The exhibit, organized by Peace Action Staten Island (PASI) and Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS), was planned as a separate part of the larger “National Night Out Against Crime” – an event sponsored by Staten Island’s three police precincts. Eyes Wide Open has as its centerpiece a collection of military boots. Each pair of boots bears a tag with the name of a soldier killed in Iraq. The exhibit was put together by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and was on loan to PASI and MDS. All of the military personnel represented are sons and daughters of New York and New Jersey.

On a steamy August evening, a large crowd of Staten Islanders turned out for the National Night Out Against Crime – the local version of a national event. Primarily a recruiting/public relations opportunity for law enforcement, the event featured a number of tables staffed by police, corrections officers, state troopers and even FBI agents. Eyes Wide Open stood out in this environment – while many of the Night Out tables featured samples of police equipment and uniforms none of these displays mentioned the downside of a punitive only approach to crime. Similarly, none of the military oriented displays highlighted the cost of armed conflict. An MDS member remarked that the Eyes Wide Open display broadened the event to include a “Night Out Against War Crimes” component – something organizers regarded as essential given the plight of the Iraqi people and the US troops abandoned there by their government.

Over the course of the evening a steady stream of attendees examined the boots of the fallen as well as signs that revealed the cost of the war. A cyclist who stopped to read the names of the dead burst into tears when he recognized a friend’s name. Exhibitors alternated between comforting the distressed and explaining the exhibit to the curious. Overall the response was quite positive – and quite moving.

A few hours into the event two NYPD helicopters landed at nearby Miller Field. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Chief Ray Kelly deplaned and made their way to a small stage where they addressed attendees. Prior to the speech the Mayor’s aides ordered all tablers to close up shop and take seats near the stage for Bloomberg and Kelly’s command performance – which consisted mainly of praise for the NYPD. Shortly after the speeches the sun began to set. The filtered sunlight hitting the boots made the exhibit all the more dramatic and effective. As the National Night Out crowd began to disperse, departing attendees paused at the Eyes Wide Open display – many stopping to speak with a member of Iraq Veterans Against The War (IVAW) and two teachers: one from Brooklyn and one from Iraq. Bruce Wallace is a high school teacher from Brooklyn who corresponds with Nasreen, an Iraqi High School teacher. Following their own exchanges, they agreed to have their students correspond via email. Recently, Nasreen came to New York City to speak about the horrors her students are experiencing under the US occupation. Facing significant danger by traveling to the US and speaking out, Nasreen presents as a courageous, gentle, comforting figure. She and Wallace spoke at length with passersby who stopped to examine the exhibit. The two teachers were interviewed by NY1’s Mara Montalbano as night fell and things wrapped up. The exhibit was quite successful – and very timely – according to organizers.

“The exhibit contains photos of Iraqi civilians who have been devastated by the crime of war, as well as the shoes representing children who were needlessly killed. Boots of the soldiers killed who were from New York State and New Jersey are also displayed in memorial fashion with dogtags, photos, and other personal effects donated by family members,” said Elaine Brower, an event organizer. “This is the most moving memorial to the testatment of the cost of war. No one can dispute or deny the sadness they feel when they witness it,” she added.


View Photos/Videos From The Event…

Posted by TAG - August 5, 2007 | News



A member of MDS NYC (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

New York, NY – August 3, 2007. Members of MDS New York were joined by friends from Peace Action Staten Island in a protest calling for the impeachment of Dick Cheney. Protesters stood along busy Richmond Terrace, opposite the Staten Island Ferry terminal, as drivers passing by honked in response to signs saying “Honk For Impeachment” and “Impeach Cheney First.” This was the second impeachment protest outside Staten Island’s Borough Hall this summer and more protests are planned according to MDS. The response from passing motorists was very positive and everyone had a laugh as protesters tooted their own horns, bicycle horns that is, as a means of grabbing the attention of drivers sitting at the traffic light or emerging from the Ferry Terminal.


View Photos/Videos From The Action…



Peace Action Staten Island had a presence at the protest (Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


Photo: www.stopthewall.org

A voice is crying out for justice, from every place where there is struggle… may all humanity hear itself in our cry. –Zapatista compañera Elena, Chiapas, 21 July 2007 (http://www.narconews.com/Issue46/article2748.html )

Anarchists Against the Wall has become one of the major direct-action groups protesting against the multiple oppressions of the Israeli state. Their politics concentrates on radical confrontation, and they are one of the few tough bunches of comrades in Israel/Palestine facing the brutal power of the state in concrete solidarity with the oppressed, week after week, in a spirit of what is called in Arabic tsumud, persistence with grit, non-violent dogged resistance.

STOPPING THE GREAT WALL OF PALESTINE

AATW activists are centrally involved in the struggle against the West Bank Barrier, the segregation wall being built by the Israeli political class. They are out there every week with the Palestinian popular resistance and village committees against the Apartheid Wall — known in Hebrew by the euphemism geder ha-hafrada (Separation Fence) and called by many Palestinians jidar al-fasl al-‘unsuri (‘Racial Segregation Wall’) — in diverse areas of the West Bank, including the villages of Bil’in west of Ramallah, al-Ma’asara and Ertas south of Bethlehem and elsewhere. Their demo at Bil’in on 3 August 2007 was number 130 (http://www.ainfos.ca/ainfos04901.html ). They are also helping to protect Palestinian olive trees from bulldozing as ever more land is expropriated. At the same time, they are engaged in a really major legal campaign in the courts to defend their right to join together with Palestinians to protect their land and protest state violence and oppression (see below).

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