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No Justice! No Peace!

statement by Chuck Turner read at the UJP Conference, "Ending the Endless Wars and Occupations", Oct. 1, 2011

Chuck TurnerCongratulations to United for Justice with Peace on your tenth year conference!  I wish I could be with you in person today. However, I want to thank Duncan for making it possible for me to communicate with you through the written word. I also want to thank UJP as an organization and your members for the energy and commitment that you have put into our struggle for peace and justice at home.

I heard that we may even be able to celebrate defeating Boston University's attempt to install a bio 4 laboratory in Boston. This would be a significant victory and an encourage other communities to fight bio4 labs. I believe that the fight should not just be to keep them out of our back yard but to stop their proliferation entirely.

Such a victory would also parallel for me the biblical story of David and Goliath. When a handful of residents and activists decided to fight the lab almost a decade ago, people laughed us. Yet that didn't stop us because we knew we had a responsibility to  speak truth to power regardless of the odds.

Brothers and sisters that is the message that I want to share with you today. We must not waver in our fight to create a just and peaceful world. We must continue to reach out to our fellow citizens whether they live in Weston, South Boston, Somerville, or Roxbury and ask them to stand with us despite their possible doubts and fears.

Let us strengthen our resolve by remembering our heros and heroines of past struggles who refused to be intimidated by the breath and strength of the opposition. Remember it was only fifty years when the sitiners, Freedom riders, and demonstrators defied fire hoses, angry mobs, and other dangers while facing the resistance of those who declared that the South would never be integrated.

Let us remember Dr. King's challenge to us to move beyond past victories to fight the three evils of militarism, racism and all the other isms, and the materialism that turns us into predators. Let us never forget that he consciously sacrificed his life to lead a not only a national but a global struggle that he believed would result in future generations living in peace and celebrating their ancestors' courageous refusal to give up the struggle for peace and the demand for justice.

It's easy to feel disheartened, discouraged, and even defeated as we face the seeming ability of the oligarchy to maintain it's strength despite the chaos it is creating at home and abroad. Yet it is our responsibility to inspire our people to look beyond the chaos of the moment and focus on the future we have to create by building a mental, emotional, physical, and yes spiritual foundation for global social and economic cooperation based on the principles of love and respect for our fellow human beings. We have to commit ourselves to building the new as the old crumbles under the weight of its own evil.

Let me close with the thought that one of the more serous threats to our efforts is ironically our own criminal justice system, so called. Over the last four decades, the number of incarcerated in this country has quintupled, growing from approximately 400,000 in the early 70s to 2.3 million today, including over one million black men and women.  Our country has the dubious distinction of having the highest percentage in the world of our population and people of color incarcerated.

The driving force of this national disgrace are the prosecutors who are legally insulated from any accountability. At the federal level, the FBI and federal prosecutors continue their historical process of targeting those who stand up for justice and equity with no risk since prosecutors can not be criminally charged for their misconduct. Let us remember, peace without justice is hypocrisy at best and fascism at its worst.  

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