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Report from Capitola Military Recruiting Center: Vigil and Action Marks 4,000th American Death

by Sherry
On Sunday, March 23rd, the 4000th American soldier died in Iraq. In less than 24 hours, on Monday the 24th, 40 people gathered for 3 hours in front of the Military Recruiting Center in Capitola to vigil, mourn, and call for an end to this war and this occupation, and to war as a way of life in the American culture!
Those 4000 deaths are added to over 420 who have died in Afghanistan. Thousands of others have committed suicide. Over 35,000 have also been grievously wounded, are suffering from PTSD, are coming home poisoned by depleted uranium and other toxic exposures, and are now showing up in homeless shelters across the nation.

Over 1 million Iraqis have died since this war began, and over 4.5 million are now homeless refugees. What was one of the most advanced societies of the Mideast has been devastated and ripped asunder.

The people say end this war and end this occupation now!

Flanked by a large flag draped Coffin and a Giant Tombstone!, the Raging Grannies sang there wonderful songs of protest and courage, followed by local artist and musician Rus Brutsche. Bill Monning, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for a seat in the California State legislature, spoke passionately about the connection between the war and the health of our local economies, including schools, healthcare, and senior services.

Response from the people going by was energetic and positive, with lots of honks, peace symbols, thumbs up, and loud thank you's!

Over the afternoon, two civil disobedience actions took place!!!!

Phyllis Greenleaf, a Grandmother for Peace, went into the Army Recruiting office to have a dialogue with the recruiters about the Winter Soldier Project and the devastation wrought by this war. When they were ready to close and she was asked to leave, she refused. Asked why, she said she was choosing to occupy their office since this government was occupying the sovereign nation of Iraq!

A short time later, she was led away by the police in handcuffs, given a misdemeanor ticket for trespass, and released on site! Watch for future info about court proceedings!

About half way through the action outside, 6 Capitola PD officers arrived at the Vigil and told the organizers that they had received a complaint from someone driving by about the sound level! Because we had no "sound permit," we would have to turn the very small, battery-run sound system and amplification off. After some lengthy conversation and negotiation, it was decided by the whole crowd present to turn it off since we had already heard everyone who was planning to speak or perform.

A few minutes later, after the officers had driven away, it was turned back on and some of the Grannies came back to sing again!, and the crowd was updated on the unfolding action being done inside by Grandmother Phyllis!

Packing up to leave at 6PM, Daniel Young, the convener of the local Veterans for Peace chapter, reminded the folks present that each action we take, each time we stand bravely in public with our message of peace and justice, we make a difference. "Each time we do this, lives are saved," he said.

More actions are coming! Join us next time, and bring others with you!!

Participating groups included: Veterans for Peace, Families Against War, People United for Peace, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Brown Berets, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Resource Center for Nonviolence and GI Rights Hotline, the SC Peace Coalition, Women in Black, Free Radio SC, and CODEPINK SC
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