Revolutionary Worker #1156, June 23, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org
Thursday, June 6 marked the successful kick-off of the national Not In Our Name (NION) Project. Across the country, people joined together to declare their refusal to go along with the government's war without limits, roundups and detentions of immigrants, and police-state attacks on legal rights.
People of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and political views expressed their common stand on June 6 by taking the Not In Our Name Pledge of Resistance. (The text of the Pledge of Resistance and more information on the NION Project can be found on the NION Project website at www.notinourname.net.)
The NION Project reported on its website: "We continue to receive emails about the Pledge being said at poetry readings, peace gatherings, protests and happenings around the country. Many have written telling us they first heard the Pledge on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now radio show where she played a recording of Saul Williams' incredibly powerful reading of the Pledge at the Art Speaks Not in Our Name concert in Los Angeles.
"In the wake of this successful launch of the Not in Our Name Project and Pledge of Resistance, we encourage everyone to help spread the Pledge throughout society -- take it into religious congregations, read it at community centers and union meetings; table with it at concerts and poetry events, street fairs and gatherings of students and youth. Everyone's efforts are needed to make it a real force in society against the government's war and repression. Throughout the summer the Project and Pledge need to be taken out across the country, leading to a day of protest and resistance sometime this fall, in unity with diverse organizations and coalitions...Together, we must dare to change the course of history!"
The following are brief reports on the June 6 events in a number of cities and areas around the country. The reports are based on coverage by RW reporters and on information on the NION Project website.
New York City
According to the NION Project, the NY event was "well publicized thanks to WBAI (the local Pacifica radio station) and a dedicated outreach crew." Between 400 and 500 people who packed Judson Memorial Church were welcomed by the senior minister, Rev. Peter Laarman.
Voices the government has tried to demonize and silence rang out defiantly. South Asian sisters read statements from those detained by the U.S. government since 9/11. Syed Ali -- a Pakistani man with a Ph.D. in criminal justice who has lived in the U.S. for 20 years -- described how he was arrested and held for 120 days. Arshad Majid of the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked, "What happens to justice when law enforcement and judges are given free reign to hold individuals without charge and without bail? Where is the due process and the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the United States Constitution when secret evidence that is never disclosed is used against these hapless individuals?" Attorney Lynne Stewart spoke about her recent indictment by the U.S. government for "aiding terrorism."
Samia Halaby, from Al-Awda (Palestinian Right to Return Coalition), described the "silent genocide" against the Palestinian people. Robina Niaz -- a Muslim woman from Pakistan who helped organize the event -- told the audience: "My heart is filled with gratitude and warmth....We are not alone in this struggle."
National NION organizer Mary Lou Greenberg and the International Women's League for Peace and Freedom's Molly Klopot spoke about the purpose and development of the Project. Activists who had recently traveled to Palestine described what the U.S.-backed Israel occupiers are doing to the Palestinian people. Rabbi Michael Feinberg pointed to the responsibility of Jewish people to speak out. Other speakers included Jeremy Glick, coeditor of Another World Is Possible , whose father died in the World Trade Center attack; Juanita Young, whose son Malcolm Ferguson was murdered by the NYPD; Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, pastor of St. Mary's Church in Harlem; Subash Kateel of Desis Rising Up and Moving; Pacifica Radio Chairperson Leslie Cagan; and representatives of New Yorkers Say No To War, Direct Action Network, and the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade.
Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights sent a statement of support. Joe Urgo of Vietnam Veterans Against the War Anti-Imperialist read a statement from Catholic Ploughshares activist Phillip Berrigan. Many other statements were given by a beautiful mix of people with diverse political views, interspersed with bits of music from around the world provided by DJ Flood.
Towards the end of the evening hundreds rose together -- their voices united as one to take the Pledge of Resistance.
Over 350 people gathered in Martin Luther King Park. As Food Not Bombs served dinner, there were various speakers including a representative from the Philippine group BAYAN; Rob Lipton of the International Solidarity Movement; Snehal Singavi of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley; Andrea Prichett of Berkeley Copwatch; and Aimara of the Youth-Student Network of Refuse and Resist! A highlight was the speech by long-time revolutionary activist Yuri Kochiyama. Dream with DJ True Justice and Mystic Family Circus performed.
After the rally, people marched through the streets behind a flatbed truck decorated with a huge "Not in Our Name" banner and a drawing of a monstrous-looking Uncle Sam stabbing the globe with a dagger. On the truck was Loco Bloco, a multinational drum and dance ensemble made up of youth from San Franciso, filling the air with funky, booming beats. Many people wore blue triangles with the names of Middle Eastern and South Asian sisters and brothers who have "disappeared" at the hands of the FBI.
At the historic People's Park there were other speakers, including Jeff Paterson, the first active-duty soldier to refuse orders to be part of the US attack force during the Persian Gulf War, and Van Jones, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center. Paul Flores, from the poetry troupe Los Delicados and the education director of Youth Speaks!, led a group reading of the pledge.
When the candlelight march returned to its starting point there was a large circle of lanterns that were made by first through third graders at a local elementary school. People spoke out about what taking the pledge meant to them and of plans to carry the struggle forward.
350 people gathered at the downtown Pershing. A graffiti-style banner reading, "End this War Created by International Gangsters" was background to the stage where the mic was open for people to express what the Not in Our Name Project means to them. A wide range of people were at the event: people of different nationalities, youth activists from MEChA, many college students who are new to political activism, artists, teachers, and others.
Speakers throughout the evening included Blase and Theresa Bonpane from the Office of the Americas; writer Wanda Coleman; Frank Dorrel from Veterans for Peace and publisher of Addicted to War ; Rev. Meri Ka Ra; a representative from the Green Party in Orange County (which passed a resolution supporting the NION Pledge of Resistance); activists from the 911 Peace Coalition of Orange County; a youth from the immigrants rights group Wise Up; Leone Hankey from the Coalition for World Peace; youth from the Long Beach Anarchist Defense Committee; and La Resistencia. Dr. Fernando Santillana read the statement from Phillip Berrigan, and a Refuse & Resist! activist read a statement from the American-Arab Anti-Defamation Committee.
According to the NION Project website, "It was especially poignant to have two family members of an individual killed in the Philippines by Abu Sayaaf make a statement, given that this murder is being used as one justification for the escalation of U.S. military involvement in the Philippines. The family members came to declare that they were opposed to the use of their loved one's death to send U.S. troops to the Philippines and they opposed the war the U.S. is waging against the world's people in their name. Following them a member of the local NION committee spoke whose cousin and friends were killed in the WTC and on the plane that hit WTC."
KPFK radio host Bob Young led the crowd in a powerful reading of the Pledge of Resistance. The pledge was also read in Spanish and Tagalog.
Boston: About 100 people gathered in Copley Square. At the Community Church, speakers included Joseph Gerson, regional program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee; Amer Jubran, a Palestinian-American who was unjustly jailed for demonstrating in Brookline; John McCloud, an activist against U.S. sanctions on Iraq; Blanca Camorin, Colombian activist; Prof. Christina Martinez; and Shelagh Foreman from Massachusetts Peace Action.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina: From the NION Project website: "Chapel Hill Friends called a Meeting for Worship with Attention to the War on Terrorism. The Religious Society of Friends is a traditional peace church and Chapel Hill Meeting was very active in the Vietnam Anti-War movement... We had silent meditation for an hour. The pledge and its preamble were read out at the beginning by one of the conveners."
Chicago: DePaul University students and others read the pledge and passed out fliers on the campus. One of the fliers they distributed was a statement from a 9-year-old girl from the Cabrini Green housing project that read, "The people of Cabrini know what an injustice it is to be called a `criminal' because of where you come from." At Cabrini Green, mini-rallies spread word about the NION Project.
Kickapoo Region, Southwest Wisconsin: From the NION Project website: "People traveled to Viroqua from LaCrosse and several counties away. One hundred people were counted in the candlelit circle as we sang `We Shall Overcome' and `Song of Peace/Finlandia' before reciting the Pledge (after which we sang `Give Peace a Chance'). Over the course of the whole event we probably had 150 people with us.
"We had a full spectrum of ages present: An 83-year-old man spoke about his experiences as a conscientious objector in WW2 and as a peace activist during the Vietnam war; a couple of high school age young men got up to the mic (one to sing an original peace song and the other to read an original poem). Other speakers included representatives of the local Green Party and the local Peace Circle (both sponsors of the Not in Our Name Project); a woman with a local radio show who is also a delegate in the WI Democratic Party; a Vietnam vet who started an organization called Veterans Opposing War (VOW) and who sponsors a yearly peace hootenanny in his community (one county to the north) on Memorial Day weekend (he brought with him a beautiful world peace flag that was designed and is being produced by a businessman in his community); and a representative of the LaCrosse Peace and Justice Coalition (from our nearest `big' city)."
The NION Project website also includes reports from June 6 events in Atlanta, Cleveland, Gainesville (Florida), Harrisburg (Pennsylvania), Honolulu,and Seattle .
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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