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ROCK ON TILL THE BREAK OF DAWN: Resistance To War & Injustice Shows No Signs of Stopping

On Tuesday January 28th George W. Bush delivered the state of the union address to a nation in uncertain times. Inside the Capitol building Bush vied to win public support for the military conquest of Iraq while also trying to quell growing fears over the poor state of the economy.

Outside over 1000 protesters gathered at a rally & concert to draw attention to the “Sorry State of the Union”. People gathered in below freezing temperatures to take a stand against the the US government’s plans for a war on Iraq and to criticize Bush’s policies on...well just about everything. The event, sponsored by the Shirts Off coalition (a DC area anti-war organization), was an interesting mix of live music, speakers, video, and performance. Hip-hop artists like Mr. Lif shared the stage with members of the Green Party, anti-capitalists, jungle djs, punk bands and trade unionists. After Minneapolis city council member Natalie Johnson Lee delivered the official Green Party response to the state of the union, anti-capitalists took part in an unpermitted march throughout DC. The march was physically pushed off the streets and onto the sidewalk by DC police for most of the route. However many people involved in the march found it quite inspiring.

The following day, over 30 Richmonders protested at the federal courthouse to speak their minds about the state of the union (Read IMC reporter Jen Lawhorne’s account). “It was the same old garbage of lies and deceit,” protester Marcia Dickinson, 65, said. “Bush has set us up to go to war since the beginning.” Plainclothes police officers videotaped the rally while police officers mounted on horses provided an intimidating presence.

Sometimes people make sacrifices to stand for justice and peace. Recently, local activist Thomas Cleary was sentenced to 6 months home imprisonment for trespassing onto the Fort Benning, Ga. army base to protest the School of the Americas, a military institute responsible for training South American death squads and paramilitaries. Many others who committed civil disobedience to protest the SOA have also been sentenced to prison for their dissent. To learn more check out the webpage for SOA Watch. Additionally, VA Catholic Workers Bill Frankel-Streit and Steve Baggarly, and NC Catholic Worker Steve Wolford are facing trial for pouring their blood on the Pentagon to protest militarism and war (Read Steve Baggerly’s statement on the action). They face a trial date on March 7th at 9:00 a.m. at the Alexandria, Va. Federal Courthouse for 3 misdemeanor charges. It is likely that the district attorney will press for jail time; the misdemeanor charges could carry 18 months total. The Catholic Worker crew is asking for people of conscience and freedom fighters to show support and continuing opposition to war by coming to their trial.

In somewhat related news, citizens in Virginia are taking a stand for the rights of ex-convicts. On Jan. 20th, over 100 citizens rallied at the state capitol’s Bell Tower to support former prisoners' rights to employment (read IMC reporter Jen Lawhorne’s account). The rally, led by Virginia Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (VA CURE), lobbied support for the passage of a bill (SB 1064) that would give state preference to businesses that hire ex-felons. CURE was also pushing for other measures to be passed to improve rehabilitative support for ex-cons, restrict access to criminal histories, and to declare a state moratorium on the death penalty.

Resistance to the status quo will continue to bloom in Virginia and beyond. On Wednesday, Feb. 5th the Rotary Club of South Richmond will be bringing General Norman Schwarzkopf to the Landmark Theater ( the corner of Laurel and Main St.) at 6 p.m. for a fundraising event. While General Schwarzkopf has made statements criticizing and questioning the current drive to war, Richmonders will still be there to call him out for his support for sanctions on Iraq and his many violations of human rights, both Iraqis and enlisted US military, during the first Gulf War. Bring signs, leaflets, and conviction to let Stormin’ Norman know that we will NOT forget the attrocities of Operation Desert Storm. On Feb. 6th, Free Palestine Now will be hosting an event on the Palestinian Struggle featuring Palestinian activist Ramzy Baroud and spoken word artist Miriam Lodin. On Feb. 8th U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will be visiting the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. and a protest is planned. On Feb. 15th mass demonstrations will take place in NYC and around the world. A bus is being organized by the VA Beach Greens if you’re interested in attending. On, Mar. 21-23 RECLAIM: A Conference on War Community and Oppression will take place in Richmond, Va. Keep posted to this sight for details as they come together. If full-out war on Iraq is declared Richmonders are encouraged to gather at noon at the federal courthouse for an emergency response.
[ Point By Point Analysis of Bush's State of The Union Address ]


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