This Wednesday in C’ville: One Event & Every Issue
War and Peace, Crime and Justice, Budget Priorities, Freedom of Assembly, Local and National Politics
You don’t want to miss this!
This Wednesday at noon in Charlottesville, and simultaneously in 100 congressional districts around the country, Americans will hold Brown Bag Lunch Vigils against further war funding, including the proposed $33.5 billion to fund an escalation in Afghanistan.
Meet on the sidewalk along the street near Congressman Tom Perriello’s office at 313 2nd Street SE, Charlottesville, VA, and be there by noon! We will all walk across the parking lot (where gatherings are not permitted) and enter the congressman’s office. (If you get there late, join us in the office. Any police present are there to protect your right to do so.)
We have met with the congressman. We have taken our vigil into his office before (video). He has not indicated how he will vote on dumping another 33.5 billion borrowed dollars into the hopeless and catastrophic war in Afghanistan. This new flyer from Code Pink explains what’s wrong with this war. Make lots of copies. And make posters to bring. Or print out the various posters and flyers found at http://defundwar.org
Congressman Perriello knows that if the Republicans all vote No, the Democratic Party for which he works may not allow him the option of a No vote. His rationale for voting Yes will be the unrelated items packaged into the same bill, despite the fact that those items could be brought up separately if the package was voted down, despite the fact that the good items will not outweigh the damage of the war, and despite the fact that his refusal to publicly commit to opposing the war escalation funding is one reason his Party will package this pig of a bill with so many lipsticky lame excuses for Yes votes.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observed that, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” More than 40 years later, our country continues its plummet into a state of warfare that many fear is permanent. Isn’t it time for you to help out by speaking up?
This local action is sponsored by: Progressive Democrats of America, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Joyful Dissent, WarIsACrime.org, Democrats.com, Socialist Party Central Virginia, Food Not Bombs, Priority for Community Transportation, Amnesty International – Charlottesville, Virginia Defenders of Freedom Justice and Equality, May 1st Coalition, United Front to Defend Public Education, and CodePINK.
Nationally, the Brown Bag Lunch Vigils are sponsored by: Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), CODEPINK, WarIsACrime.org, the Backbone Campaign, Democrats.com, the California Nurses Association / National Nurses Organizing Committee, Healthcare Now, Unions for Single Payer, and United for Peace and Justice.
Many vigils this month will carry the message “Hands Off Medicare and Social Security.” Organizer and National Director of Progressive Democrats of America Tim Carpenter explains: “Cuts to Medicare and Social Security will not balance the budget, but ending the wars assuredly will.” This national day of events comes as the House of Representatives is considering for passage $33.5 billion to escalate an unpopular war in Afghanistan, the U.S. economy is faltering, and a presidential commission is working on what most observers expect will be a proposal to slash Social Security and Medicare. “This is not a debate over the size of our government,” said Carpenter, “but over what we will use our government for, killing or saving lives.”
Watch this video: Afghan War Longer Than Vietnam War
Where Congressman Perriello’s colleagues stand on war escalation funding is tracked at http://defundwar.org
Candidates for Congress who have sworn to oppose war funding are listed at http://caws.us
CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE CHIEF AND PRO-WAR OPPONENTS OF SPENDING
Cville, like the rest of the country, is crawling with people who have been trained to oppose government spending for anything useful but to support government spending on the single biggest thing our government spends money on: the military. (And which is more important can be gauged by the teapartiers’ refusal to join in opposing the current Supplemental, which combines massive military and non-military spending.)
A while back, the Jefferson Area Tea Party (named apparently in honor of our third president’s hypocrisy and racism) held a protest in the parking lot outside of Congressman Perriello’s office. The protest was given extensive media coverage in Charlottesville, and it met with complaints from local business owners who depend on the use of the parking lot. The JATP has declined invitations to join us in opposing war funding, but one of their members came and observed our vigil last month, in order to complain to the media about it. The Charlottesville Daily Progress then reported on unfair and imbalanced treatment, ignoring the following considerations:
1) The Charlottesville media, including the Daily Progress, had never previously mentioned our event, so nobody knew about it. Nor have they mentioned this Wednesday’s.
2) One of the chief complaining businesses was no longer in the building.
3) Our protest took place primarily inside the congressman’s office, not in the parking lot.
4) We did not get in the way of a single car or pedestrian.
Nonetheless, the JATP is still pushing on Charlottesville reporters the idea that the JATP really has been discriminated against for political reasons. And some of those reporters are interpreting that to mean that war protesters, unlike protesters of useful spending, do not really oppose Tom Perriello. While the rightwingers want to vote him out, this story goes, we supporters of the traditional conservative agenda of halting imperial adventures overseas just wish to express our disappointment prior to reelecting the guy. Problems with this line of thinking include:
1) Many of us plan to work for Perriello’s unelection, no matter who replaces him, if he continues to dump our money into wars.
2) Many of us support the right of the JATP to freely assemble and present its grievances, and volunteer to help in expanding those rights and opposing any actual unfair treatment.
3) The Chief of Police in Charlottesville on Thursday sent a letter to both the JATP and the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice laying out the same rules for both. It read in full:
“It has come to my attention that plans are underway for your perspective [sic] organizations to engage in organized demonstrations at Congressman Tom Perriello’s office on Monday June 14 (Jefferson Area Tea Party)
and June 16th (Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice) respectively. I acknowledge and respect the rights of our citizens to freely and peaceably assemble and express their opinions; both of these fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution. Nonetheless, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the manner in which such activity is to be conducted at this location. As you are aware, this office is located on private property. The owner of that property, pursuant to City Code section 20-11, has previously requested and duly authorized the Charlottesville Police Department to forbid others from going on or remaining upon the lands, buildings or premises. This same authorization has been provided by numerous other residential and commercial property owners across the city. I will do everything within my power to ensure your rights to engage in lawful protest are protected; I will also ensure that the property owner’s rights are protected as well. In an effort to do so, I respectfully ask that you assemble along the public sidewalk along Garrett Street and not trespass on private property. In the event you wish to access the public office situated on this property, you may do so through the front door but I must ask that you not congregate in the parking area. The property owner’s right in this area is absolute and cannot be diminished by any authorization that may be given by the independent business owner’s that lease office space at that location. In the event officers are directed by dispatch to respond to this location for the purpose of removing trespassers from the property, my firm direction is that they do so politely and professionally with the goal of achieving voluntary compliance. In the event they are met with a refusal, they will enforce the law and place the appropriate charge of trespassing. If I can of further help, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Chief of Police”
CHARLOTTESVILLE CITY COUNCIL
The Charlottesville City Council passed a resolution opposing the war on Iraq. Now towns and cities across the country are beginning to pass resolutions against spending any more money for war in Afghanistan. Even big cities and state labor councils are doing it. Some are even putting a large LED cost-of-war counter on city hall to let residents know how much they are spending. Mayor Dave Norris and City Council Member Kristin Szakos told me during their last campaigns that they would be inclined to support local resolutions on national issues, depending of course on what the resolutions said. They would not, in other words, oppose the very idea of serving as representatives of a locality speaking to a higher level of government. And they have not disappointed. Both have said they would support a resolution asking Congress to stop funding war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But they are only two of five city council members. Winning over a third will require public pressure. People will need to make their voices heard, including by attending city council meetings at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month. A resolution might look something like this:
CITY OF CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.
IN THE CITY COUNCIL
RESOLUTION ASKING THE U.S. CONGRESS TO END THE EXPENDITURE OF OUR CITIZENS’ TAX DOLLARS FOR EXCESSIVE AND UNAFFORDABLE WAR FUNDING
WHEREAS, the financial resources available for use by governments at the local, county, state and federal levels in the United States are and must be limited; and
WHEREAS, the people of Charlottesville, Va., have collectively paid or become indebted for approximately 115 million dollars thus far of their limited financial resources for warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, not counting interest payments on debt, the costs of veterans’ care, and the wars’ impact on fuel prices and the larger economy; and
WHEREAS, such expenditure is inordinate to the identified public benefits to Charlottesville, Virginia, and the nation; and
WHEREAS, this warfare too often creates great and unnecessary harm to U.S. military personnel and their families, and to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan; and
WHEREAS, essential public services such as education, infrastructure repair, family and small-business financing, and community policing in Charlottesville suffer when an excessive portion of available financial resources is diverted from the constructive economy to largely unnecessary warfare.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
THAT the City of Charlottesville, Va., respectfully requests that the U.S. Representative from the Fifth Virginian Congressional District and both of Virginia’s U.S. Senators oppose all legislation brought before the U.S. Congress that provides further funding of the U.S. warfare and U.S. military occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan; and that the City of Charlottesville, Va., also urges these members of Congress to take strong and forceful action to influence the U.S. Congress to terminate funding of these military operations.
Two of the five city council members, Satyendra Huja and Holly Edwards, have previously taken the position that it’s just not appropriate for cities to speak to national issues. This goes against a rich and vital practice of American democracy. In 1967, anti-war activists in another U.S. city tried to get a resolution to stop the Vietnam War on the ballot. The city tried to stop them arguing it was not the city’s business. But a court decided in Farley v. Healey, 67 Cal.2d 325 in favor of the activists stating:
“As representatives of local communities, boards of supervisors and city councils have traditionally made declarations of policy on matters of concern to the community whether or not they had power to effectuate such declarations by binding legislation. Indeed, one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power. Even in matters of foreign policy it is not uncommon for local legislative bodies to make their positions known.”
Most city council members, including here, take an oath of office promising to support the U.S. Constitution. They don’t take an oath to fix potholes. If the Constitution is in danger, then their primary duty is to defend it. If it is safe, and they have time on their hands, then they can fix potholes. Cities and towns routinely send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states, all across America. These rules were set up by Charlottesville native Thomas Jefferson.
If a federal action has a significant negative impact on a city, then it is appropriate for the city to defend itself. Citizens from this city may be sent, or have been sent, to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight in illegal and unconstitutional wars. Tax funds from this city ($115 million) that could have been spent locally have been spent in Iraq and Afghanistan for war. How can it be inappropriate for Charlottesville City Council to care about $115 million being stripped from our pockets (plus interest, veterans’ care, etc.)?
The fifth member of City Council has a different excuse. David Brown says that he would have been happy to oppose the same wars if Virgil Goode or George W. Bush were sti
ll in office, but he just doesn’t think it would be right with Democrats Tom Perriello and Barack Obama supporting the wars. Brown says he trusts these guys. They’re smart and better informed, so he’s going to defer to them.
But is Tom Perriello better informed than David Brown about the financial needs of the City of Charlottesville? Is asking a representative to better represent you somehow disrespectful? If a smart informed guy like Brown has to zip his lips, do the rest of us have to as well? Under that policy, wouldn’t we still be dealing with the war in Vietnam?
If Brown thinks that Perriello acts on the basis of his wise informed opinion alone, and not under pressure from places other than his district, he sould really look into how the war supplemental vote went down last June. The Democratic Party has millions of dollars worth of favors with which to pressure Perriello. Residents of Charlottesville have the megaphone of their local government officials’ voices. It’s not a fair fight, but we definitely can’t win it if we refuse to try, if Charlottesville refuses to reaffirm its status as a City for Peace now that the wars are Democratic Party wars.
Is that change really enough to cause us to support Mass Murder in Charlottesville, Virginia?
See you at Noon on Wednesday.