Encampment targets FEMA, ICE & Congress
Published Sep 27, 2007 12:26 AM
Anti-war activists, veterans, military families and community organizers from
across the U.S.—from as far away as Oregon, Florida and
Maine—arrived here beginning Sept. 22 for the Encampment to Stop the War
at Home and Abroad, a tent city positioned in front of the Capitol building
organized by the Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC).
WW photos: LeiLani Dowell
The Encampment will culminate in a march on Sept. 29 with multiple targets:
Congress for its complicity in funding the war; the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) for its continued racist neglect of the survivors of
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
offices for the anti-worker raids and detentions against immigrants.
On Sept. 22, a large banner was erected that reads, “Congress, the whole
world is watching: CUT OFF WAR FUNDS.” The Encampment is timed to
coincide with the expiration of the current round of funding for the war and
the ongoing debates in Congress. The appropriations passed in the last session
of Congress are due to expire on Oct. 1.
Parked in front of the Encampment is the tour bus of Iraq Veterans Against the
War, which features large signs reading, “Don’t attack Iran”
and “Impeach Bush.” Along with TONC, Code Pink—Women for
Peace, the Green Party and others have pitched their tents. More tents will be
pitched as Katrina survivors, youth and students, Cuba solidarity and
immigrants rights activists arrive in the coming days.
Press conference announces Encampment
Organizers held a press conference Sept. 24 to announce the Encampment and the
mass march on Sept. 29. TONC spokesperson Larry Holmes opened, saying,
“The Democrats say they want to cut war funding but they can’t get
past a veto. But they could simply make sure the funding question doesn’t
get to the floor.”
Rev. Lennox Yearwood spoke about unity in the struggle: “I’m so
pleased to see support here for the struggle in Jena; I was pleased to hear, in
Jena, people talking about how the bombs in Baghdad are affecting people in the
United States. ... Our struggles will continue, but we will win.”
Yearwood was recently beaten by D.C. police at an anti-war press
Adam Kokesh, co-chair of the board of directors of Iraq Veterans Against the
War, described his organization’s demands, including immediate withdrawal
of all forces from Iraq—”and we mean Army, Navy, Air Force,
Marines, Blackwater, Halliburton”—and full payment of reparations
to the people of Iraq.
Nana Soul of Artists and Activists United for Peace described the weeklong
concert being held as part of the Encampment. “The movement needs
cultural inspiration, talent and creativity. We know that [Iraq] isn’t
the first time that the United States has invaded a sovereign nation. ... We
have a chance to translate the [U.S. government’s] actions.”
Representing the Green Party, Vietnam War veteran Rick Clemens stressed:
“This war is about imperialism, about the exploitation of labor power and
markets of other peoples. There is no thing as ending the war without ending
the economic system that perpetuates war—capitalism.”
WW photo: Dustin Langley
Toby Blomé of Code Pink described the encampments their group has
undertaken at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s house, after months of
her refusing to meet with them to discuss war funding. They plan on visiting
her office regularly during the Encampment and will be fasting throughout the
week; the group hosted an organizing meeting on Sept. 24 at the Encampment.
Vernon Hoffman, who biked 4,500 miles with his family from Portland, Ore., to
join the Encampment, said he’d “rather bike for peace than kill for
Lastly, a young war resister described how he enlisted in the military in 2005
because of limited career opportunities in his rural hometown. However, he
says, “I happened to join at the same time as Hurricane Katrina, and I
saw on TV the bodies floating in the streets. It really hit home to me. I got
out of training 25 weeks later and nothing had changed. Despite all the
rhetoric about homeland security and national security, this government’s
priorities are not for the people.”
Hub of anti-war activity
The Encampment has become a veritable hub of anti-war activity in the D.C.
Metro area. At daily morning and evening meetings, activists converge to plan
their outreach strategies to build for the mass march on Sept. 29.
From the Encampment, teams have fanned throughout the Washington, D.C., and
Baltimore, Md., areas putting up posters, handing out leaflets, riding in sound
cars and talking to students on campuses and workers on the streets. The
response has been overwhelmingly positive.
In addition, passersby to the Encampment, including many tourists, have been
appreciative of its work. An activist reported that one such person showed his
identification card—as an employee of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. He
assured the activist that many people in the Green Zone in Iraq are in
agreement with the sentiments of the Encampment.
‘Get out of Iraq! Stay out of Iran!’
Responding to the venomous attacks against Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad during his visit to New York for a UN General Assembly meeting,
Encampment activists piled into the IVAW bus on Sept. 26 and rode to the White
House, where they held a picket line to demand, “Get out of Iraq! Stay
out of Iran!” Recalling the demonization of former Iraqi President Sassam
Hussein, activists denounced the attacks on Ahmadinejad as an attempt to
prepare the U.S. population for an expansion of the war to Iran.
Upcoming events include a discussion on the war at home in Washington,
D.C.—where libraries are closing, thousands of units of affordable
housing have been lost, and residents can’t vote—hosted by the
Green Party; an event entitled “Justice for the Jena 6, Katrina/Rita
survivors and immigrant workers: Fighting racism is building solidarity”;
a vigil with the cast of the movie “SiCKO” for those who have died
due to inadequate health care; a youth and student day of action; and events to
free the Cuban 5 and to demand an end to political repression in the
For more information, visit www.troopsoutnow.org.
E-mail: [email protected]
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