Twenty-five "Minnesotans for Peace" (including myself) are setting off today for Washington D.C. where we plan to exercise our First Amendment right to "Peaceable Assembly" (before the Supreme Court and the corporations take that right away). We will also exercise our throwing arms a little, too, as we deliver our message in less conventional ways along with other Creative Voices for Non-Violence. We may even take a cue from Muntazer al-Zaidi and throw our peace shoes at the White House!
Of course we'll also be busy with more conventional meetings with our elected congresspersons and Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, pleading with them to take more active roles. (It does not appear that Congress has even declared war, as the Constitution requires.) We'll each be carrying tombstones with the names of Minnesotans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've dripped red paint to look like blood and hand-stenciled our group t-shirts. We also sent the following letter to President Obama last week asking for a meeting with him as there is only so much one can say on a shoe and under international law, it's incumbent on all citizens to do what they can to stop torture and other war crimes. At the very least, we will try to be near where Obama gives his State of the Union speech so we can represent the views of the majority of average citizens who want the wars and the war crimes to end.
January 15, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama:
On January 26 and 27, over 20 Minnesotans will be traveling to Washington D.C. to participate in the Peaceable Assembly campaign, a national campaign to demand alternatives to U.S. militarism.
We are requesting a meeting with you or a designated staff person as we vigil at the White House on Tuesday, January 26 between 10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. We ask that you or your designate contact us to arrange this meeting. As citizens, we have the right to speak to our elected officials, including those making these decisions at the highest level.
Your request to spend a record $708 billion for Defense Department funds next year, as well as another $33 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is unconscionable and unacceptable. We call on your administration to 1) cut off funding for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and 2) carry out a prompt end to U.S. combat engagement, and an orderly, prompt withdrawal of all U.S. forces and bases from these countries. -Peace and security in the region will not be gained through a military solution. Former Minnesotan Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, reports that $1,000,000 (the cost to put one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan for a year) would fund the opening of 20 to 30 schools providing education for thousands of Afghani students.
Please meet with us while we are in Washington in order to explain your exit strategy, which must include a plan to provide aid and reconstruction of these countries. Your request to spend nearly $1 trillion on war, death, and destruction is not going to bring peace and prosperity to anyone - in the United States or abroad.
We are suffering through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and spending those funds on war will further damage our economy. It's outrageous to waste so much of our national wealth on war when so many other needs are pressing.
Thank you for your prompt response. You may contact our delegation through: Marie & John Braun (address and contact info) Minneapolis, MN 55412.
Marie Braun Mary Percich Coleen Rowley
John Braun Angelo Percich Delia Jurek
Diane Haugesag John Schmid Rebecca Kramer
George Pridmore Mickey Patterson Steve Clemens
Ward Brennen Vicki Andrews Joe Palen
Maxine McNamara Mel Thorson Bill Habedank
Grace Kamrath Sue Ann Martinson Audrey Wesley
Duane Kamrath Ann Turner Robert Palmer
We've witnessed how easy it was to start the wars and how very difficult it is to end them. Heaven only knows how many meetings with elected leaders, these last eight years, how many millions of letters, postcards and e-mails have been sent! We've worn out our shoes marching for peace! We've stood in summer and winter with banners and signs over highways and on bridges. We've even snowblogged for peace. We supported political campaigns promising hope and change and we even voted thinking it might help. There's probably a creative limit to what one can do with old shoes and snow, and we, the people, are not so foolish as to believe that we can compete with the big money of the profit-driven military industrial complex or other special interests for war but we remember these words of (former Minnesota cub reporter) Molly Ivins and we must try.
"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous... We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it now!"