(Next up: Nuclear-Free Future Month, Tampa and Charlotte conventions)
Though it’s been busy spring for United for Peace and Justice, things are just warming up.
Working for Justice...
UFPJ stood in solidarity with women on March 28th at the Unite Against the War on Women rally in Trenton, NJ. National Coordinator Michael McPhearson reminded the crowd that both Democrats and Republicans are in support of war policies that hurt women at home and around the globe.
In May UFPJ joined with the North Carolina Coalition Against Corporate Power to stop business as usual at the May 9th Bank of America shareholder meeting in Charlotte. Activists in North Carolina and from around the country came together to demand accountability and an end to foreclosures and investments in weapons and coal. We took the streets and had representatives in the meeting. http://www.ncagainstcorporatepower.org/
On May 26th UFPJ stood in solidarity once again with activists in North Carolina for Unity in Harmony at a rally against hate. The Ku Klux Klan planned to have an event in Harmony, NC, but in the face of the rally of diverse colors, ethnicities, beliefs and sexual orientations calling for peace and “Unity in Harmony”, the Klan left for Virginia.
We need your support to keep working for justice in all our communities!
Working for Peace...
UFPJ member groups and activists took center stage during the mid-May NATO Summit in Chicago, organizing two alternative summits and participating in street marches and protests. The May 18 -19 Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice sponsored by the NATO-Free Future Network for Global Justice and Peace was a great success. Initiated by the American Friends Service Committee and Peace Action, the network, in which UFPJ and many of its member groups participate, called for immediate and complete withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan; withdrawal of all foreign deployed U.S. troops, bases, nuclear weapons and “missile defenses”; the abolition of all nuclear weapons; reorientation of national economic and tax policies to fund our communities and to meet human needs; restoration of the United Nations Charter and International Law as the best means of resolving international disputes, and an end to NATO, a global military alliance which has come to embody Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “triple evils” of poverty, racial inequality and militarism. See video of the conference at http://www.natofreefuture.org. Read the final conference statement here.
Perhaps the brightest highlight of the Chicago actions was the Iraq Veterans Against the War-organized March for Justice and Reconciliation, where dozens of veterans led thousands of protesters to McCormick Place, the site of the NATO Summit. At a rally there, the veterans, one by one, symbolically returned the medals they received for their “service” in the Global War on Terror, by throwing them towards the NATO Summit while denouncing U.S. policy and calling for an end to the wars. Hand in hand with members of Afghans for Peace, these military veterans made a clear statement that they no longer worked for the war machine. Now they are working to bring an end to the violence and wars. See coverage of this historic event here.
Not all the action was in the streets. The UFPJ Legislative Working Group carried the banner against war funding to Congress, mobilizing support for the Lee Amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA). This important amendment was designed to end the war in Afghanistan now, by limiting funding to the safe and orderly withdrawal of all US troops and security contractors. Although this amendment was defeated by a large margin ( 113 Ayes, 303 nays) for the first timethe majority of Democrats voted in favor of the Lee amendment-(101 Ayes, 79 Nays) signaling the White House that the President has lost the support of his own party for continuing the war in Afghanistan. For the roll-call on the Lee amendment see: http://www.opencongress.org/vote/2012/h/264
The UFPJ Legislative Working Group also encouraged national and local groups to organize against the entire 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which in its final version, authorized $642 billion for the military, including $88 billion for Afghanistan. Despite some gloomy predictions that even antiwar Representatives might be reluctant to vote "No," in the final tally (299 Ayes, 120 Nays), the majority of Democrats voted against the NDAA (77 ayes, 104 nays) For the roll-call on the entire 2013 Defense Authorization bill see:http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/112-2012/h291
Working within the halls of Congress is frustrating but the grass-roots pressure is making a difference. The tipping of the Democrats in support of Barbara Lee's amendment is a substantial achievement, despite a media silence on the subject. In an election year, the President's options are constrained by the defection of his own party on the war. On this and related issues, public pressure makes a difference, even when we don't win the final vote. Good job, Legislative Working Group and thanks to grass-roots activists who support our efforts to move Congress! http://www.unitedforpeace.org/2012/05/21/a-thank-you-from-the-legislative-working-group/
This is just the beginning. Summer is almost here.
We need your monetary support to keep up the pressure and to amplify the voices of peace and justice.
UFPJ’s Nuclear Disarmament/Redefining Security Working Group is gearing up for Nuclear-Free Future Month in August. Then it’s onward to the Republican and Democratic Conventions! We need your support to take the voices of peace and justice to Tampa and Charlotte. Please give as generously as you can.