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HUFF speech on the City Council and Iraqi War 4-7

The full version of the anti-war speech given at the Civic Auditorium on April 7th (some it spoken the next night at Oral Communications).
From Protest to Resistance...Where is the Road?

Speech to Santa Cruz Community and City Council by Robert Norse 4-7-03

``Out of the office and into the streets! U.S. out of the Middle East!''

This morning in Oakland, police unleashed their own “Shock and Awe” brutality against peace protesters. They opened fire on peaceful demonstrators with rubber bullets, concussion grenades, sandbags, and wooden dowels, injuring at least a dozen protesters and six Longshore
workers standing nearby. According to A.P. reporter Martha Mendoze, Trent Willis, a business agent for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said angrily that dockworkers were leaving the docks after the incident. "They shot my guys. We're not going to work today," Willis said. "The cops had no reason to open up on them."
Why did the police do this? Because suddenly war protesters united with labor activists and pointed the way to doing something effective as we flounder about seeking something real to stop a criminal war and occupation in the Middle East. They drew attention to materiel supplying an illegal war of aggression one of the top three in the UN’s Nuremburg hit parade of war crimes.
Our police have used a different strategy to crush visible peaceful protest. Poor and houseless people doing it, struggling to maintain a 24-hour vigil, first at Cooper and Pacific, then at the Town Clock, have been assailed with the Reilly-Porter Downtown Ordinances.
March 13th was the first use of the “Move-Along-Every-Hour-With-Your- Political-Table” law against political activists The Reilly-Kennedy Council passed the law in January. Officer Wendy Bines used it against the Vigil Against Two Wars in front of O’Neill’s Sports Shop across from the Cinema 9.
March 14th was the first time the SCPD drew guns on peace protesters--in front of Borders on after Bines forced them to abandon their table and most of their signs. March 14th was also the first time peace protesters were physically assaulted in Santa Cruz was by Lulu Carpenter’s manager Manthri Srinath, an assault made doubly vile by being a hate crime against homeless people.
At the Town Clock after the war broke out, police forced protesters to take down their flower wall, moved in 6-8 cops to “protect” paranoid city workers cleaning the area, declared the Clock a “closed park at night”, apparently removed signs, then even drove away homeless sleepers and peace activists from where they were sleeping under the eaves of the post office. In addition, police trotted out “dog” laws and “no chalking peace symbol” laws as part of their low-intensity warfare.
The rest of us did little to protect or shelter them, recalling to mind the ancient adage that all
that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing. Soon after the war started, Mayor
Reilly ordered the flags lowered to half mast “for the dead”--not for the victims of aggressive war (soldiers on both side, civilians, world peace), but “for the dead”.
What is effective resistance for us here? It lies in dissolving the bonds of obedience that bind the citizenry to the war machine and refusing to cooperate. It means demanding City Council sever its ties with corporations that profit from this military madness and from the obscene U.S. military occupation that is about to descend on Iraq. It means withdrawing investments. It
means speaking out loudly and clearly and not going away.
It means resisting repression locally and demanding a restoration of democracy and public accountability here in Santa Cruz. It means defending the poor and homeless on our own streets from the razorwire of laws created in the last year to eliminate people like Jason Paschal, jailed for
possession of a milk crate and then for an unservable warrant.
Waiting for Representative Farr, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, Reilly’s City Council, and Wormhoudt’s Board of Supervisors will gain us nothing. These politicians move, when they do, only to jump in front of actions that others have initiated and masses of people are following. Farr finally came up with a good vote, yes, even a courageous vote last week, against the war appropriation--finally falling into line with sentiments of his safe district.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich called for stopping the
bombing, declaring a cease-fire, and Supporting Our Troops by Bringing Them Home, but not Sam Farr. British M.P. George Galloway went further and called for troops to disobey unlawful orders in an illegal war. Where do we stand on Bush’s Blitzkrieg?
This Town Hall meeting is a month late. It was originally scheduled for March 19th, but Reilly canceled it, because the Del Mar had thirty empty seats. The next day Bush invaded Iraq.
Urgent pleas to get Reilly’s Council to call for Bush’s impeachment, a sanctuary for war resisters, a
demand for our 17th Congressional District Representative Sam Farr to move more strongly against the war--all were not merely rejected, but not even discussed.
Tonight as civilian casualties move past the 1000 mark, there are hopeful signs of protest. Up at
UCSC, there’s encouraging news of protest. www.santacruz.indymedia.org reports a protest tomorrow, Tuesday April 8th from 10:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m. at the Stevenson Dining Hall and the “Last Chance Job Fair”, opposing the military’s “bodies for Bush” recruiting effort there. (info: contact Ryan at 421-0703 weber (at) ucsc.edu).
Though police essentially crushed the 24-hour vigil at the Town Clock, Standing United for Peace activists have announced the formation of a “Peace Camp” up at Porter College. UCSC’s strange “free speech” rules have only one or two legal places to set up a table, hold a rally, or conduct a vigil. Even more strangely, students and community members have tolerated this bureaucratic
banishment of the First Amendment. (more info: contact Shelsea at 239-2078) If San Francisco State students can peacefully occupy a building, as they did last week, then perhaps UCSC students with community support can reclaim the looted right to peacefully protest on campus.
For authorities, the crime here is protesting effectively. When a wing of City Hall burns with no
deaths or injuries--a stupid act of vandalism--the Sentinel gives us three days of headlines. When over 1000 civilians die in the Bush Blitzkrieg on Iraq, we get “Support the Military” pep-propaganda.
It is when protest becomes effective that police departments become violent. It was within weeks after Martin Luther King declared himself against the Vietnam War and took up the cause of the Memphis Sanitation Workers, that he was shot dead. That is the risk that Gandhi, King, and Cesar Chavez and hundreds of thousands of others have taken up. And it may be at these times of the greatest
shame and peril that people otherwise afraid, distracted, or discouraged can rise up, unite, and resist.
Other protest actions happening include a visit to Rep. Farr’s office at 3 PM Wednesday April 9th to commend Farr for his vote but to demand that he go much further. On Friday April 11th, anti-war weapons inspectors will gather at the County Courthouse at noon to caravan up to
Lockheed to confront our local weapons-of-death producers.
On Sunday April 13th 10 am-11:30 p.m. Councilmember Mike Rotkin will debate peace activist Joe Williams on Sam Farr and the Local Peace Movement on Free Radio Santa Cruz on 96.3 FM (call-in 427-3772).


Flyer by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 309 Cedar PMB 14B S.C. 95060 831-423-4833 4-7-03 More info: www.huffsantacruz.org groups.yahoo.com/group/HUFF/messages & groups.yahoo.com/group/HUFF/files
 
 


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