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Related Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Anti-War
Cut Off at the Pass!
by sherry
Thursday Jul 5th, 2007 2:21 PM
Refections from one of the many organizers of the Rally and Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Action at the Military Recruitment Center in Capitola on June 26th!
CUT OFF AT THE PASS!
reflections from one of the organizers of the June 26th action in Capitola!

On Tuesday, June 26th, the People showed up and spoke out in Capitola! We did it, first, by staging a wonderful Rally on 41st Avenue in front of the Military Recruiting Center, attended by over 100 people, in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon in the Summer, no less!

And then, about halfway through the Rally, an Affinity Group of 15 members broke off and went upstairs to the Army Office with some prepared statements to read, and hopes for interaction and dialogue with the Recruiters. Depending on the outcome of that hoped for interaction, and how the Recruiters responded to our concerns, some members of the affinity group were prepared to possibly risk arrest.

Leading the way, of course, were our wonderful, costumed, elderly 'grannies', complete with walkers and canes! But as they saw us coming slowly down the hallway, the Recruiters immediately stepped into the doorway and put their bodies firmly across it, and said they were under orders "not to allow anyone in today!"

We were Cut Off at the Pass!

But, flexible and determined, the Affinity Group improvised as well as possible! We read some of the shorter statements we had written, sang songs, read the names of some of the dead of Iraq, and engaged the Recruiters in honest, and respectful, dialogue. Meanwhile, the Police and building management moved around us, with requests for us to move out of the open doorway, since we had 'taken position' against the door itself, which had opened out when they greeted us!

We stated very clearly, again and again, that we would be happy to move out of the doorway and leave the hallway if we could go INTO THE OFFICE, as was our lawful right, but we were not going to just go away! We also allowed anyone else to go in and out easily when the Recruiters asked us to!

And the crowd of supporters and onlookers was steadily growing!

We firmly believed that we had the lawful right of entry to this public, government agency, and we made that point several times! Our statements were carefully thought out and crafted to be relevant to the activities and responsibilities of military recruiting, particularly recruiting in this County, and recruiting in a time of war!

We were then, and are now, deeply concerned about the escalation ("surge") of the war in Iraq and the effects that is having for everyone involved (see links below*).

When asked, both of the Recruiters who were assigned to blockade the door and keep us out, admitted that anyone being recruited right now will probably end up in Iraq. One said 'it's almost for sure" and the other said, "it's very likely"!

After a couple of hours or respectful interaction on both sides of the door!, the Police took action. After first warning us three times that we were participating in an unlawful assembly, and then ordering us to disperse, the Police began to move to arrest. Ten of our brave members held their ground, and committed a conscious act of nonviolent civil disobedience - in that moment, they followed their conscience and refused to obey the order to disperse! Many Kudos and Great Gratitude to Them!

We had brought with us a large bowl of fresh, organic strawberries to share with the Recruiters, and if we had gained our lawful entry, we were prepared to read the following statement to them, after other individual statements had been read.

We were asserting that the order to recruit young people to serve in an illegal war is an illegal order. Therfore, we were requesting that the Recruiters refuse the order to recruit at this time, unless they could guarantee new recruits that they would not be sent to Iraq or to any base that provides direct aid for this illegal and immoral war!

Though we did not get that far, I wanted to share it with the People now! Many heartfelt thanks to those who were there, and to those who came up and braved the hallway stand-off with us!!!

May 2007 be the Year that War Ends and 'Peace Spreads Over the World'!


the unread statement follows!

Please Join With Us to Stop This War Now!
Statement to Military Recruiters - June 26, 2007

Good afternoon. My name is Sherry Conable and I am one of the many people who have been outside participating in the Peace Rally. As you probably are well aware, this is the fourth Rally we have had here in the last two years, and today some of us decided we wanted to come in and speak to you directly! We brought written statements with us today, so that we would be sure to remember to say what we really wanted to say!

We have brought with us a bowl of fresh, organic strawberries, grown and harvested in Santa Cruz County, for all of us to share. They are, in many ways, like the young who come here to consider enlistment. They are planted, grown, and lovingly tended here, on this soil. They are a unique and beautiful work of Creation. Each are one of a kind, no two exactly alike! And they are greatly loved and desired by those of us lucky enough to have them in our lives! All of this can be said of our cherished young people as well.

We know that the sons and daughters of Santa Cruz County currently serving in Iraq are not able to have this delicious delight in their lives right now. And we remember with great respect the 6 of this county who died in Iraq and will never know the wonder of strawberries again.

So, with strawberries to share, we'd like to talk about the war in Iraq, and our part in that, both ours and yours.

First, we want to acknowledge that ALL of us are here today wishing the very best for our country. We sincerely recognize and respect the choice you have made to serve your country as feels right to you, and we know that you take very seriously your oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and to conduct your work according to the Military Code of Ethics that you are sworn to.

Most of us here today are long time peace activists who also care deeply about the principles this country was founded on, about the Constitution, and about a moral code of ethics that seeks peace, justice, freedom, and self-determination for all people of the world, whether of this country or of another. Many of us have lived in this County for decades. And this is a community that we love and cherish deeply.

This is a group of folks ranging from ages 16-92, and in various ways, each of us has been very active in opposing this war in Iraq! We have conducted rallies, vigils, protests, candlelight services, and memorial walks. We have written to, phoned, petitioned, and met with our Congressional Representatives and Senators. We have also written to and petitioned the President and his Cabinet Members directly, as well as many other key members of Congress who serve on Committees that have a direct impact on this war.

We have successfully encouraged our local and state governments to take outspoken positions about this war and its conduct, about the crimes of the Bush Administration, and about the soldier-resisters who have chosen to refuse to serve in this war.

In short, we spend LOTS of our time working to end this war and occupation in Iraq, and to bring our troops back home to their families and loved ones, where we believe they belong!

We are here today to ask you to help us in that task! As representatives of the United States Armed Services, we are asking you today, as recruiters, to refuse to continue to enlist the young people of Santa Cruz County to serve in this mistaken and illegal war.

It is now widely accepted knowledge that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was premised on lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction! Saddam Hussein was not working with or supporting the goals of Al Qaeda! Neither the government nor the people of Iraq attacked the United States, nor did they have any plans or intention to do so!

President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Cabinet Members Rumsfeld, Powell, and Rice knew this. They knew the truth. But they lied. They lied to the United Nations. They lied to the American People. They lied to Congress. And they lied to the World.

These leaders planned and executed the preemptive invasion of a sovereign nation in direct violation of the United Nations Charter. They blatantly ignored and sidestepped a legal United Nations weapons inspection process. And they acted without United Nations authorization. In fact, we know now, from the Downing Street Memos, that they were, as early as the summer of 2002, "fixing the intelligence around the policy" - that is, they were manipulating and misrepresenting the intelligence findings in order to support a decision they had already made to invade and occupy the country of Iraq.

So, because this is now, and always has been, an illegal war, we believe the order to recruit people to serve in it is an illegal order. Soldiers, yourselves, have the right of conscience, like anyone else, and the right, in fact the duty, to refuse to follow an illegal order.

Therefore we are requesting that you refuse to continue recruiting the young of our community unless you can absolutely guarantee them that they will not be sent to Iraq or to any location that directly aids that war.

Let's talk for a moment about the effects of this war.

David and his 16 year son Trevor have already talked to you about their deep distress over an unsolicited brochure, sent to Trevor by the United States Army, suggesting that war is just like a video game. But war is NOT a video game. War is real. THIS WAR is real. It has very real and horrible consequences. You know that. We know that many recruiters have had first hand experience of that reality. You have been in Iraq.


What has happened to our American youth, and our National Guardsmen and Reserve Units, who volunteered to serve in the military with so much promise, strength, intelligence, and commitment?

Over 3,500 of them have died, and over 35,000 have been maimed and wounded, many with wounds that will leave them disabled for life. These losses and lifelong wounds deeply scar and devastate their families and children left behind as well.

One in three Iraq war veterans suffer from mental and emotional problems because of their experiences in war. They experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, increased drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, higher rates of child abuse and elevated rates of suicide.
 
How many of this wounded generation of soldiers will end up homeless, on the streets, in damaged families and relationships, addicted, jobless, and tormented emotionally by the experience of war? Already hundreds of them are showing up in homeless shelters across this country.

How many more American families will have to suffer the loss of a loved one, or the lifelong effects of their grievous physical and psychological wounds? How many more families can we ask to live with the gnawing, daily anxiety of having a loved one in harm's way for a war based on lies?

The Pentagon has warned us to expect a "very bloody summer in Iraq", with even higher casualty rates than before, and the troop escalation numbers have doubled. Whose blood is it that we are willing and ready to spill?


And what about the Iraqis?

This war has completely devastated the lives and culture of the Iraqi people. They live in a constant state of fear and danger. Life as they knew it has been ripped asunder!

Since the invasion in March 2003, 2.6 million Iraqis have been wounded. If that many residents of the United States had been wounded, it would equal 30 million people! Each one of these suffers pain, lack of medical treatment, and disability, and their families suffer with them.


Over 3.7 million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes. Right now, over 40,000 are leaving the country every single month! In the US that would be 42 million people living in refugee camps or out of the country. Every child and family displaced is without a place to call home. Everyday life is gone.


Over 655,000 deaths of the people of Iraq have been attributed to this war, and 300,000 of those are said to have been children. If the same percentage of America's population had died, that would equal 7.6 million people and 3.5 million of them would have ben kid. The loved ones of the dead of Iraq mourn each of these deaths as intensely, as deeply, and for just as long a time as we here in this country mourn ours.

Iraq, prior to our invasion, was respected as one of the most advanced countries of the Mideast, with free education for all children through college, childhood diseases eradicated, women fully integrated into the highest professions with equal pay, and almost full employment throughout the country. All this now lies in ruins.


 
And then there are the effects BOTH peoples share of the chemical poisoning left behind. Thousands of American soldiers are coming back poisoned from Depleted Uranium, or other chemicals they were exposed to in this war. Already scores of birth deformities of American infants can be attributed to DU poisoning in their soldier parents returning from this war.

Likewise, in Iraq, hundreds of babies have already been born deformed. Cancers are sharply on the rise. And the very soil of Iraq itself will remain contaminated for thousands of years to come from the Depleted Uranium this country is leaving behind.

Our land mines and cluster bombs lay scattered across the countryside as well. The lives and limbs of Iraqis, many of them children, will still be being sacrificed to these horrors many decades from now, as is happening in Southeast Asia today from a war that ended 30 years ago!


We could go on and on with the awful effects of this illegal war, but let us stop here. This violence and devastation harms us all. What happens to one part of the web of life happens to the whole. More violence, bombs, and weapons cannot and will not bring peace. Only respect, justice, and diplomacy can do that.

All of us must do our part to stop this war! Each of us is responsible for our own actions and our own choices.

This war is real. Your part in it is real. And our part in it is real. WE are morally obligated to take non-violent direct action to oppose this war. And we believe that YOU are morally obligated to reject illegal orders to recruit for this war.


In the best of all possible worlds, no more sons and daughters from Santa Cruz County would be recruited for this war! No more sons and daughters from any county, in any state of this nation, would be recruited for this war!


So we ask that you stand with us, so that we can stand with you. Walk away from your part in this war. Use your courage to confront this illegal and unjust war! Refuse to recruit for this immoral cause! Refuse to continue to take in the precious young who you know will almost certainly be sent into the jaws of this terrible slaughter and devastation! Stop recruiting for this war! Stop now!!

You will not be alone. Many other soldiers have already made a similar moral choice. They are being helped and supported by friends, family, clergy, counselors, peers, and the peace movement*. And their conscience is clear.

As soldier-resister Camilo Mejia said when he refused orders to return to Iraq, "I laid down my gun and I picked up my humanity."

Please Join With Us to Stop this War Now! - Peace!
* see http://www.couragetoresist.org

*http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/063007Z.shtml
Iraq Ambush Caps Bloodiest Months for US
6/29/2007

*http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/070507J.shtml
Body Count in Baghdad Up in June
7/05/2007
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