2007 / 3 / 14
In the face of what they call “the most important vote since Congress voted to authorize the war,” activists with the Troops Out Now Coalition have issued a call for a national Encampment to Stop the War, beginning on March 12.
“During the week beginning March 12, Congress will begin voting on Bush’s request for $100 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Larry Holmes, a spokesperson for the Troops Out Now Coalition. “If Congress votes to cut off funds, they can end the war now and bring the troops home. If they approve Bush’s war funds, the killing and dying and occupation will go on. It’s as simple as that. This vote will be the most important war related vote since Congress voted to authorize Bush to invade and occupy Iraq in October of 2002. The antiwar movement must be there to let Congress know that we won’t let them get away with it this time.”
Activists have a permit to maintain a 24-hour presence at the encampment, which will be set up on Third Street between Constitution and Independence Avenues, directly across from the Capitol, within walking distance of congressional office buildings. Organizers are working with local organizers, churches and mosques, unions and community groups to prepare. Activists participating in the encampment are planning a variety of actions during the week, including a protest at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), actions focusing on U.S. threats to Iran, teach-ins and direct actions. On March 17 activists from the encampment will join the March on the Pentagon, organized by the ANSWER Coalition.
The encampment has already garnered thousands of endorsers. Grassroots organizations from across the U.S. have endorsed and are helping to mobilize, including the D.C. Antiwar Network, Florida Military Families Speak Out, AfterDowningStreet.org, Arlington South and many local chapters of Code Pink and Veterans for Peace. On Feb. 26 the San Francisco Labor Council passed a resolution endorsing the Encampment.
Les Blough, editor of the online journal Axis of Logic (www.axisoflogic.com), endorsed the encampment, writing, “The government will not stop—unless we stop them. We are calling for you—the people—to take courage and join us in our demand that the slaughter end and the troops be brought home NOW. Enough with the government-corporate media obfuscation, deception and ‘concern’ about ‘sectarian violence’ and a ‘civil war’ in Iraq if the U.S. pulls out. Refuse to accept the Democrats ‘Nonbinding [Resolution.’]. Stand up with hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens and take back your rightful decision-making power to end the war in Iraq NOW.”
Organizers say that momentum for the encampment is growing, with more than a dozen organizing centers across the U.S. “We’re getting e-mails and phone calls from as far away as Washington State and Hawaii,” said Sharon Black, an organizer with the encampment. “People are saying that now is the time to ‘up the ante’ in the struggle against the war. There’s a feeling that there is a real moment of opportunity if we act now.”
“Congress is spending $100,000 a second on this war,” said Black. “Meanwhile, the percentage of people in the U.S. who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high. Forty-seven million people are without healthcare, hospitals are closing due to lack of funds, and the Gulf Coast still hasn’t been rebuilt after Katrina. We need money for human needs, not war. One of the things we are asking people to do is to bring their bills—utility bills, credit card bills, student loans, hospital bills—and demand that Congress pay for peoples’ needs, not war.”
Ben Carroll, an organizer with the Chapel Hill chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), said, “I think occupying Washington, D.C., and letting those in power know that we’re not going away until our demands are heard, is something that has the potential to make a real impact. We’re bringing up 10 young people to join the Encampment. I’m excited to see what unfolds.”
The global stock market plunge on Feb. 27 showed how shaky capitalism really is. Manufacturing as well as the housing market is in a recession. The percentage of the population living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high. Many workers’ wages are near the poverty line. Meanwhile, because Washington’s pouring untold trillions into the war machine, the economy is being starved of essential funds. Congress should be concentrating on voting to fight the recession and poverty, not funding a war on Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Troops Out Now Coalition has launched a blog, located at encampmenttostopthewar.blogspot.com, which includes maps, weather forecasts, travel information, contact information for inexpensive housing in the area and daily updates.
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