Every gathering, whatever else is on the agenda, needs to refocus attention on the millions of youth who have heroically taken to the streets again and again in shutdowns and standoffs against police killings of Black and Brown youth. Protesters have consistently gone up against massive police offensives. This is a challenge that cannot be ignored or postponed.
The approach of the United National Antiwar Coalition’s conference, titled “Stop the War at Home and Abroad,” is an example of the kind of solidarity that is needed. The national conference, to be held in Secaucus N.J., just 20 minutes from New York City’s Times Square, is seen as an opportunity to put the anti-war movement on a different footing.
Every panel in the weekend conference is designed to link struggles and connect international movements to resistance in the U.S. fighting racist repression and mass incarceration. The overwhelming police presence in full-body armor, equipped with tanks, drones, stun guns and sound cannons, is the clearest example that the many U.S. wars abroad do come home to U.S. cities.
Over 500 activists are expected to participate at the national weekend conference, which begins on May 8 at 6 p.m. and closes on May 10 at 3 p.m. The national gathering will be live streamed and panels will be available on YouTube, with assistance from GoProRadio and CPRmetro radio, along with numerous alternative news, social media and video activists.
A youth flyer designed for the conference makes the connection between the U.S. ranking 57th on a world scale in government expenditures for education and first in military spending.
Two formerly imprisoned members of the Cuban 5 plan to Skype in from Havana. Pam Africa will give an update on Mumia Abu-Jamal’s grave health crisis. Lamis Deek of Al-Awda NY and Susan Abulhawa, Palestinian author of “Mornings in Jenin,” are scheduled to speak.
Ajamu Baraka, Joe Iosbaker, Cynthia McKinney, Ramsey Clark, Medea Benjamin, Glen Ford, Ray McGovern, Imam Malik Mujahid, Anne Wright, Kathy Kelly and three guests from Ukraine (coming with a display showing the burning of the House of Labor in Odessa one year ago) will also participate.
BAYAN Philippine activists, Syrian-American activists and Latin American activists are working on shaping workshops and panels.
A Saturday afternoon panel focusing on the cost of endless war and deepening austerity will include Shafeah M’Balia, Black Workers for Justice in North Carolina; Lawrence Hamm, chair of Peoples Organization for Progress; and Clarence Thomas from the Oakland International Longshore Workers Union local that has scheduled a port shutdown and mass union meeting on May Day against police violence.
The Saturday evening panel featuring testimony on the militarization of the police will connect racist police violence and systemic racism to expanding wars abroad. Testimony will include three speakers from the Ferguson resistance: Dhoruba Toure Shakur of Tribe X; Michael McPhearson, co-chair of the Don’t Shoot Coalition; and Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, minister, author and activist; along with Larry Holmes of the Peoples Power Assembly and Michelle Kamal, whose son, Abdul Kamal, was fatally gunned down by police in Irvington N.J.
Local activists in the Peoples Organization for Progress in Newark are mobilizing for the conference as part of building for a major “Peoples March for Justice” in Newark on July 25. Many other action proposals are scheduled. Skills workshops in social media and culture and music are part of the weekend plans.
The United National Antiwar Coalition is an umbrella organization of thousands of progressive, individual activists, and anti-war, social justice, immigration and anti-racism groups. The coalition was formed in 2010 at a conference of 800 activists in Albany, N.Y., where overwhelming support for ending U.S. aid to Israel was a central decision.
In the past five years, as U.S. wars and destabilization efforts in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela have left some forces of the anti-war movement silent and disoriented, UNAC has issued bold statements and held coordinated actions demanding “U.S.Hands Off!” as the only viable solution for peace. In the first days of the Ferguson uprising, UNAC again stepped forward with clear statements of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The UNAC conference will be an opportunity to meet and network with activists from across the country and to learn about the many struggles going on today.
Most conferences cost hundreds of dollars to attend, but UNAC organizers are doing their best to keep their event extremely affordable for young activists and working people.
Arrangements to stay at the hotel or to reserve meals can be made directly with the Clarion hotel at a special conference rate. Registration and information on panels and workshops is available at UNACconference2015.org.