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LOCAL Commentary :: Peace & War : Protest Activity

Postcards from the Bring Them Home Now Tour

It's a privlege to be working on behalf of Veterans For Peace and to be embedded with the southern leg of the Bring Them Home Now Tour. In the spirit of IndyMedia - I will provide updates as possible over the coming 10 days from the road and stops from Atlanta north to Richmond! [Tom Palumbo lives in Norfolk... which is "local" to us! -ed.]
Last night, I took the midnite train to Georgia. And as with most mass transit experiences, the opportunity to speak out about peace and justice was a major part of the train ride.

Last night was no different. Spoke at length with many people, from all walks of life-including a young student going to Art school in Atlanta and a wonderful woman who shared her experiences with me about being a woman of color and living in Finland/Europe since the early ninties....

I guess the message is "We are everywhere!" The antiwar / peace /justice message is being spoken and discussed in communities all over this great country--strike that- World.

Arrived in Atlanta this morning and was picked up by a long time activist who has opened up his home for the Atlanta stopover. Rest of group is in Athens Georgia- and we will be meeting again this afternoon to ready for the main event in downtown Atlanta. More to follow (and altho I dont have a dig cam yet-I will upload pics/vids as I get them)!

Much more to follow! Peace - And see ya in the streets!

Dateline: Atlanta 0200 9/11 Last evenings 'main' event - "Camp Casey Comes to Atlanta and on to Washington" - was held at a suburban black church in the nearby suburbs. Overflow crowds filled the pews, aisles and a room nearby with a video hook up.

Brooke Beasley who is on the tour as a member of Miltary Families Speak Out (MFSO) opened the night with the song This Little Light of Mine. Brooke who is from Plano Texas and is also a singer / actress in her own right continued to set the mood for this electric evening with "Let There Be Peace On Earth" and then the Woody Gutherie classic "This Land is Your Land".

After an opening prayer, VFP member, former state department official Ann Wright - gave a humourous and inside look at the story of Camp Casey and How it got started.

Much of the group was moved to tears hearing from 3 Georgia mothers who had lost family members in Iraq. Including the story of Ms. Patricia Roberts who had lost her son Jamaal Addison March 23, 2003. Ms Roberts said she was the first in Georgia to have her son "come home in a box" - but added, "I think it was my son. I didn't know what was inside. They said I couldn't open it up". The crowd roared as she said, “It’s us, the people who are making the sacrifice. Not Congress, not the Senate, and certainly not the Bush administration!“

Mr John Evans, Operation LEAD then began bringing the crowd to thier feet with call and reply and statements such as "Bush wants to stabilize their (IRAQ)government - when they can't stablize their own government right here!" He went on to say "Stop the War! You ain't got any reason to be over there-so bring them home!"

The Pastor Kenneth Samuel called on the government to stop the bombing - you can't win the war - you can't win the war right here in our own back yard! "The war on poverty!", he went on to say the US isn't going to suceed - but the people will. The Pastor then called for a "prayer for a nation drunk on its own arrogance!" Citing Martin Luther King - he said "we are inextricably linked together..."

Next Jimmy Massey, cofounder of Iraq Veterans Against the War, shared his experience in Iraq, asking the crowd, “Tell me, how you convince a young Iraqi, whose just seen his brother killed for approaching a checkpoint too quickly, not to retaliate?? We bred the insurgency with our inhumane actions, ladies and gentlemen.?

John Evans then introduced Cindy Sheehan, to the crowd’s standing ovation (one of many this evening). Cindy took the stage, looking almost overwhelmed by the show of support. She shared her Camp Casey exerience, again bringing the crowd to their feet several times, particularly with her assertion that Camp Casey had restored her hope and her love for her country.

Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney addressed the crowd, who laughed when she explained that, “I’ve done got myself in trouble again.? She went on to explain that she had voted a few days earlier, with five other members of congress, against more blank-check funding of the war.

As the crowd rewarded her with their support, she went on to say that she’d written a letter to George Bush telling him, in reference to his driving by Camp Casey without acknowledging Cindy, “No more drive-bys.?

And as might be expected, the clearly partisan audience went wild as she told them she’d mentioned the impeachment of George Bush in her previous week’s televised address. As chants of “Impeach Bush! Impeach Bush!? echoed through the church.

Congresswoman McKinney wrapped up her presentation with a call to action and her assurance that they should keep speaking out because it was working.

The closing statement and prayer by the church’s pastor, Dr. Kenneth L. Samuel, was inspirational and ended an incredible rally on a very high note.

Ann Mauney, of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, ended with a call to action to everyone in attendance.

Cindy Sheehan greeted well-wishers for some time in the van, with the hugs eventually spilling into the parking lot and onto the tour bus. Many of the supporters indicated that they hadn’t planned to go to Washington, but, after attending the event, had changed their mind. Air America radio host Mike Malloy, who’d joined us for the rally, stopped by and members of the tour handed out “Bring Them Home Now Tour? buttons to everyone who dropped by the bus.

This morning (9/11), We are breaking off into groups to attend several church services and events to commemorate 9/11. And, this evening, our stay in Atlanta concludes with an Inter-Faith candlelight peace vigil at Masjid of Al-Islam.

I remained convinced the importance of IndyMedia is critical, considering with all the celebratory atmosphere - two of the local TV stations opted to show the crowd sitting quietly, and the mainstream media making no mention of the major points made during the rally.

Tommorow - we head North.


Another amazing day - the reception in Atlanta has been exceptional. We split up into groups of 2 and attended several traditionally Afican American churches.

The history and passion of the struggle in Atlanta for peace and justice was an underlying theme which truly enhanced our message of BRING THEM HOME NOW! And TAKE CARE OF THEM WHEN THEY GET HERE!

I had the prvilege to speak to a large congregation Sunday morning, then met with the Pastor Rev. Dr. Barbara King (no relation to MLK I'm told) - the stories and support have bring on laughter in one moment and tears the next.

The afternoon was spent with a AFL-CIO meeting, which altho we were forwarned there approximately 30% in the group who idntified themselves as republicans or pro-war, not a single discouraging word was heard. And ironically after our presentation the Veterans Committee told the group of the horrors of PTSD, Agent Orange, Depleted Uranium and the problems with seeking care at the local VA.

That evening, Ann Wright (Former State Dept Official and VFP) and myself attended an Interfaith memorial at a large Muslim Mosque. The message and unity was apparent and the loving message of all those speaking flew in the face of the handful of "Protest Warriors" who came to protest. We did ask them for a donation to benefit Katrina recovery and they did particpate in out closing unity prayer.

More to follow - the RV is being worked on, then we're off to Savannah. Will report from there and YES- By all means! See you in the streets, Williamsburg, Richmond and DC!

Yeah, yeah - I know Indymedia is not a commercial venture but I.... on advice from another antiwar vet am inserting this: Can you help out? Make a donation?? The tour (including my expenses) is not underwritten by any corporation or government monies... It's an out-of-pocket, grass roots effort and it's fairly expensive to do on a national scale. Donations to directly help offset my costs can be made via paypal on RegimeChanger.Com (WWW.RegimeChanger.Com) And for the national tour at BringThemHomeNowTour.Org

(Some writing excerpted with permisission from WWW.BringThemHomeNowTour.Org tour notes)

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