The expanded text of a speech "Ending Two Wars" against the War in Iraq and the War against the Poor in Santa Cruz by Robert Norse, given 2-18-03 at the Del Mar Theater "Town Meeting"
Ending Two Wars
Moving Past Politicians & Beyond Gestures !
Expandsed Speech to Santa Cruz Community and City Council by Robert Norse at the Del Mar Town Hall Meeting 2-18-03
Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom [HUFF] believes that war abroad is bad news for poor people at home. We must stop the War Against Iraq over there & the War Against the Poor here. To do this we’ve got to go beyond symbolic gestures and do real things.
HUFF supports this Town Hall meeting. In late November and early December, HUFF distributed about 5000 small flyers urging people to phone in and demand Mayor Reilly, Representative Farr, and other elected leaders call this gathering. They waited nearly three months to do so. Were not for the action of millions of anti-war protesters and the anxieties of Russia, France, Germany, and China, we’d be in the middle of a homicidal and ultimately suicidal war of aggression right now.
Yes, the power of the people makes a difference. Yet even now, we are meeting in cramped quarters on the schedule of the Del Mar Theater (which was surrendered to private interests by most of
this City Council a year or two ago).
Our speaking time has been cut short; speakers will be cut off; groups promised five minutes have three; individuals only have two minutes; there will be no meaningful dialogue with Rep. Farr or city officials. And the entire time of the meeting has been contracted to two hours, the usual amount of time City Council spends debating a zoning issue.
We should be in the Civic Auditorium where there is enough space and where Community TV could televise it without additional lighting. But, I understand, Mayor
Reilly’s City Council didn’t want to pay the symphony orchestra, to relocate so much of the community
is turned away. These issues weren’t on a Council agenda for public discussion. Why? It was decided--like the Downtown Ordinances, like the killing of the Citizens Police Review Board [CPRB], behind closed doors.
Why is the next meeting on the War to be postponed to March 18th? Are we waiting for moderation from President Bush? Is it to start a blood drive, and maybe offer up free floor space in the Civic for Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers as the casualties mount?
Why isn’t this meeting tonight being televised and/or put out over the radio? KSCO offered to do it if a sponsor came forward. We’ve killed the CPRB to save $83,000, but kept the SCPD at full-funding at $15 million. We have a $160,000+ salary of officials like City Manager Dick Wilson but no public broadcast of this national and local emergency. What gives here?
Spin doctors on right-wing radio scramble to make sense of our protest in city after city against the barbarism, waste, bullying, arrogance, secrecy, and elitism of Bush’s War Drive. The 7000 that national media says came out in Santa Cruz on Saturday, the hundreds of thousands in San Francisco on Sunday, and the millions worldwide may be the beginnings of a New Movement for Peace & Justice.
To do that, we must throw out old leaders and old lies. We must expose and dismiss the old hypocrisies here at home which empower and feed the unrepresentative representatives in Washington, in Sacramento, and at City Hall. Indeed, it is here that we have the power to say no to phony Progressives. It is here we can wrest power ourselves from those who have roosted in recycled
power for decades. It is here we can address our own local War on the Poor, even as we see the horror of the War on the Poor thousands of miles away.
To do this, we must understand who is in power. The Green Party allows Councilmember Tim Fitzmaurice to step up the war on the poor with injunctions against activists, continued enforcement of the Sleeping Ban, and a war policy that mirrors what the Republicans nationally are
planning to do to the poor people in Iraq. Councilmember Ed Porter arrests an activist for not turning off a tape recording at a City Council Committee meeting he chairs. To fight Ashcroft’s Patriot Act (and its upcoming expansion), we must oppose its little brother--the closed-door repression here.
Councilmember Scott Kennedy moves to kill the Citizens Police Review Board, and he and Councilmember Mark Primack support “Move Along” laws for political activists at tables -- that criminalize registering voters outside this very theater. On February 13th, it became illegal to
petition, distribute literature, or even sit quietly at a political table for more than one hour along Pacific
Avenue. Who needs Ashcroft when we have Reilly and Rotkin? We must dump the politicians who empower police to engage in the kind of military “arrests first, questions later” operations that mirror the national outrages of the last year and a half.
Bush’s DEA agents seize the medicine of sick and dying patients--in the decades-long War Against Drugs. This buildup of police at a national and state level sets the stage the national (and local) precedent for the
War Against Terrorism, the War Against Arab-Americans, and the War Against the Iraqi people. Our officials
do nothing but hold a press circus which supports one provider (WAMM) which serves only 250 people and denies another 2500. City medical marijuana policy--not the threat of federal force-- continues to exclude 90% of those who need medical marijuana. If we are to fight the Warmongers in Washington, we must protect our local citizenry and restore to them the limited rights they had in mid and late 90s before Councilmembers Rotkin and Mathews colluded to kill the main Cannibis clubs.
If we are to form a movement against the War in Iraq locally, we must reject the shadowy substanceless symbolism of politicians who have come to power on Progressive principles and then jettisoned them in hopes of higher office, out of fear of offending police and merchants. If we are to demand democracy and human rights in Washington, we must demand it here in Santa Cruz.
We watched Representative Farr sit on his hands throughout the fall, after giving the go-ahead to the biggest military budget in history (ironically on the same day that he voted against the use of force in Iraq). Delegations to his office were spun or stonewalled. Has he repudiated his support of bombing in Yugoslavia? His support for the deadly uranium-depleted weapons that mine the soil of Iraq and the Balkans? His funding of Plan Colombia? His vote for national ID cards? His vote
to deny benefits to the American-born children of undocumented aliens? His vote to retain the high
penalties on crack cocaine, funneling people of color into prisons in the Drug War?
What has Farr done in the last three months other than sign on to a few letters and the recent DeFazio Resolution? What about his leading a delegation to Iraq to stop this war? What about a full apology to the community for his enabling vote on the military appropriation that will ultimately cost far more blood and treasure than it brings back to this district? What about regular
meetings with the public instead of with a few wealthy interests?
We need to recall these officials. The Santa Cruz City Council, the Board of Supervisors, our so-called Congressional representative. More important, we need to proceed without them to get to the real issues that this War is stealing from us: Housing, Health Care, Civil Rights for the Poor, Ending Judicial & Police Corruption, Restoring Decent Wages, Stopping Corporate Power & the UC octopus.
We need to declare Santa Cruz and this entire Congressional District a sanctuary for those who resist the war: conscience objectors, deserters, people of color, undocumented aliens, draft resisters. We can do this. The community can do this. We need to stay out on the streets
continuously until some of these issues are addressed: particularly the biggest one that hangs over this country. We cannot trust Rep. Farr, Mayor Reilly, and the other officials who have shown locally that they support the War on the Poor to effectively oppose the War abroad. We ourselves must face and face down the terrible terrible prospect of a war that promises to destroy hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis, kill many American soldiers, bankrupt the American economy, and provide the final pretext for the Garrison state.