Sunday, December 25, 2005

NCNR's Next Action

I am writing today in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who spoke these words in 1967:

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

I am an organizer with the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance (one of the primary organizers of the 9/26 action at the White House), and as mentioned on your recent conference call we are organizing visits, and many sit-ins at local congressional offices following MLK Day. Many affinity groups may choose to remember Dr. King by electing to do a sit-in should their representative be very resistant to changing course on this illegal and immoral war and occupation.

We are asking groups to request that their representatives support Rep. Jim McGovern's (D-MA) bill to stop funding for the war and occupation. And that their sentaros introduce similar legislation. We feel that doing a nonviolent action in the quest for peace is an excellent way to pay tribute to Dr. King, whose famous anti-war speech at Riverside Church in NYC happened exactly one year before his assassination.

Below is a link to Dr. King's anti-war speech, something some brothers and sisters may choose to recite should they participate in a sit-in.

http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/MLKapr67.html

In peace and solidarity,
Pete

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Police State in Philadelphia

Below is a recent post on a Philly-based blog. I find this scene truly sad, but all too common. Meanwhile in the national news the National Security Agency has been exposed on spying on its own citizens and keeping extensive files on more than 100 peace groups. What has happened to liberty in America?

Monday, December 12, 2005
Philly Peace Protest Turns Violent as Police Lose Their Cool (again)
When George Bush's motorcade rolled into Center City Philadelphia today the President was greeted with a loud and sustained chorus of boos and whistles from the crowd of protesters that assembled outside the president's hotel. Bush was in town to deliver a speech about the latest in Iraq. (transcripts of Bush's speech) This was the 3rd in a series of four events staged by the White House to respond to critcs of Bush's Iraq policy. Later across town, Pennslyvania Congressman John Murtha, the hawkish democrat and war veteran whose recent challenge to end the war effectively reframed the Iraq debate, responded to the president's latest Iraq assessment charging that the continued US presence in Iraq undermines any political progress. "The Iraqis are not against democracy!" Murtha said, "they are against our occupation."

It was towards the end of today's protest that things turned decidedly nasty as police charged the crowd, clubs in hand, wrestling a number of protesters to the ground. What had been a peaceful and pleasent demonstration quickly disovled into mayham and confusion as Philly's finest essentially turned "attack dog" on the crowd. It was not immediately clear what kind of threat the cops perceived when they began their assult on the crowd, but they arrested two (black) men who had joined today's rally with their family. Just a few minutes before the altercation, I actually spoke to the two men involved. When they were initailly approched by the plain-clothed policeman none of us had any idea that this guy was a cop. He seemed like a goon to me, out to cause trouble. While the plain-clothes policeman was wrestling one of the men to the ground, his shirt was raised, exposing his badge and gun. Almost immediately, a half dozen more cops (all in uniform) descended on the scene. I believe their aggressive response just made things worse, basically scaring the shit out of everyone at the scene. All the while the crowd chanted out "the world is watching!!" and "SHAME!!" I should note that the fracas was also witnesses by the young sons and the grandmother of the victims who looked on in horror while police brought all the force they had to bear on the two men. No one had any idea at the time what could have possibly provoked the police to act out on the crowd like that.

Local media later reported that police had concerns that one of the men involved was carrying a dangerous object, which turned out to actually be a glass of hot cider. Harmless enough, if you ask me, afterall it was freezing outside. I also later learned from a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter that one of the men involved was taken to the hospital and released. The other is in lockup at the 9th Police District, charged with assult on a police officer. Bitterly ironic.

While I am tempted to vent my frustration at what i saw towards the police, that would be too simplistic of a target. I think what i witnessed today is a byproduct of the politics of fear, a fear that is so prevelant in this country nowadays, as methodically employed and cafefully cultivated by the Bush Administration. In this post-9/11 world, the government seems to have masterfully exploited our sense of fear by inundating us with scarey, color-coded, mostly abstract messages that eat away at our peace of mind. Has it gotten to the point where everyone in the country is so "on edge" that a simple thermos of cider can set the cops into an asswhippin' frenzy?? After what I witnessed today, my answer is an emphatic YES.

Photo credits to Bob Herbert and the Deleware NewsJournal.