WIN News

Dissent in the Heartland

Seventeen peace activists, arrested while occupying the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, offices of Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-IA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), will go to trial on charges of criminal tresspass on October 29.  On July 6, 75 activists traveled from across Iowa to take part in the nonviolent sit-in, organized by the Iowa Occupation Project, as part of an onging national campaign launched by Voices for Creatove Nonviolence to “occupy” congressional offices to pressure members to defund the war in Iraq.

The July 6 action took place just hours after 11 members of the Iowa Occupation Project had been found guilty of criminal trespass for staging a similar sit-in at Sen. Grassley’s Cedar Rapids office on February 26, 2007.

“As a mother, I have a responsibility to teach my children to be understanding of other people and to find ways to solve problems and settle differences non-violently,” said Iowa City resident Rose Persaud, who was arrested on July 6 just hours after being found guilty of criminal trespass for the February 26 sit-in.  “It’s hard to teach your kids these lessons when their government is provoking and waging war as a means to an end.”

The Occupation Project was launched in February 2007 in response to President Bush’s request for $145 billion to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through September 2008.  The campaign is calling on elected officials to “publicly commit to voting against any funding for the Iraq war or we will nonviolently occupy your offices,” according to Occupation Project’s website.

Between February and April 2007, more than 320 activists were arrested carrying out acts of civil disobedience in the offices of at least 39 representatives and senators.  Activists are currently ramping up their efforts in anticipation of the passage of the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, which must be passed by the Senate by the end of September.

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Code Pink Hits Hill

After renting a house just blocks from Capital Hill, women from Code Pink have established themselves as a daily presence in the halls of Congress.  Volunteers from the women-led peace group spent much of the summer undertaking “in your face” direct actions such as interrupting press conferences, storming lawmakers’ offices, unfurling banners at confirmation hearings, and being arrested by Capitol Hill police as part of a campaign to intensify resistance to the war in Iraq.

“They serve as a useful reminder to [lawmakers] of the broad consensus in the country over hte war,” Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) told the San Francisco Chronicle in July.

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U.S. Soldiers Reveal Iraq Atrocities

A survey of 50 Iraq combat veterans found that the U.S. occupation of Iraq has led to an indiscriminate use of force against the Iraqi population as a whole, leading to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians, according toa July 30 article published by The Nation.  The veterans described a conflict where many Iraqis are presumed to be hostile, an atmosphere of impunity for atrocities committed, and a sentiment shared by many soldiers in Iraq, that “if they don’t speak English and they have darker skin, they’re not as human as us, so we can do what we want,” according to 23-year-old SPC Josh Middleton, of New York.

USSF Explores Another U.S.

Between June 27 and July 1, 12,000 grassroots activists and community organizers from more than 1000 national groups gathered for five days of workshops and plenaries, a protest or two, and lots of dancing, drumming, and talking strategy.  With the slogan, “Another World Is Possible, Another U.S. Is Necessary,” the first U.S. Social Forum was an attempt to provide a common space for U.S. activists to meet, discuss their common and divergent agendas and lay the groundwork for a more concerted, progressive mobilization.

Caravans of community organizations populated by people of color, indigenous groups, union members, and high school students traversed hundreds of miles to participate in the week’s events.  Close to 900 workshops, covering everything from building Palestinian solidarity movements to housing as a human right to youth organizing in immigrant communities to the role of women of color in the environmental and economic justice movements, allowed enough space for participants to find solidarity with their own causes and cross into new organizing arenas as well.

Organizers of the U.S. Social Forum, which was largely regarded as a success, are already looking ahead to 2010, when they hope to host a follow-up forum in another U.S. city.

Bail Reduced for San Francisco Eight

Six of the eight former Black Panthers indicted for a 1971 murder of a San Francisco police officer had their bail dramatically reduced from a total of $18 million to $2.6 million at a hearing on August 22.  The six men were arrested January 23, 2007, 30 years after indictments for one of the eight men and two others were thrown out following revelations that torture had been used to extract confessions.  Two defendants not eligible for bail, Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim - have been incarcerated in New York State for 30 years after being convicted in the murder of another San Francisco police officer.  They have maintained their innocence and consider their indictments as a continuation of the government’s COINTELPRO, in which Black radicals were targetted for arrest and assasination in the 1960s and 1970s.

More info:  Send donations to: Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), PO Box 90221, Pasadena, CA 91109, FreetheSF8 [at]

Carolyn Goodman Dies

From aiding exiled Spanish republicans during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s to fighting McCarthyism or standing on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, activist Carolyn Goodman spent a lifetime supporting progressive causes, including, at times, the WRL.  A clinical psychologist by profession, Goodman was launched into the national spotlight in 1964 when her son, Andrew, was killed in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan.  Andrew, 20, was one of three civil rights workers murdered while registering Black voters during the Freedom Summer of 1964.  The death of the three young men helped spur the Selma-to-Montgomery march and the passage of the Voting Rights Acts a year later.  In 1966, Goodman and her husband, Robert, established the Andrew Goodman Foundation to raise money for organizations working toward social justice.  Goodman remained a fixture at antiwar and political demonstrations through the end of her life.  She died on August 17 at the age of 91 at her home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Writer-Activist Grace Paley Dies at 84

Just before WIN went to press, we received the sad news that beloved writer and peace activist Grace Paley had lost her long battle with cancer.  She had been a WRL member and supporter since the Vietnam War, and the league was going to give her a Lifetime Achievment Award at its annual Peace Award ceremony September 28.

There will be a full appreciation of her life and multifaceted career in our next issue.