November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.
Protesting Recent War Funding
By Lorie Blanding
On Tuesday, March 29th a group of ten members from The Northampton Committee To End the War In Iraq went to Representative Richard Neal's office to object to his vote approving Bush's 81.4 billion supplement "emergency" fund mostly for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secondly, we went to urge Neal to back the Woolsey Resolution (H.Com.Res.35) which calls for a plan to withdraw
immediately from Iraq.
Here's roughly what went on...
We entered Neal's office at the Springfield Federal Building around 10:45. Paki Wieland (Committee member and designated speaker for the day) spoke with one of Neal's aids explaining we have come to address our dissatisfaction with the way Neal voted on Bush's bill to add another 80 billion plus for the war. Basically, she explained that there were numerous attempts to arrange a meeting with Neal to discuss this matter but nothing so far had come out of these attempts to reach him. The aid told us Richard Neal was not in his
office but in Agawam at a meeting and that it was doubtful he would be back until late afternoon. Hesitantly, he asked if we were going to wait. Paki softly replied, "We are."
And so we started to take seats in chairs and on the floor in the 5 ft by 7ft waiting area just in front of a receptionist desk. Somehow we were able to work it out that the ten of us could fit without blocking any traffic flow routes. We were really trying to handle this "sit-in" with respect. We began reading from the lists of names of people who have died because of the current war in Iraq.
There were two separate lists: one--lives of Iraqis lost and, the other--American soldiers. The names were read out loud and alternated between Iraqi and American.
During the reading, we heard a soft humming, ringing of small chimes which came from inside three marble sized metal balls. The sound was gentle...exquisite vibrating around each name as each was announced. We took turns holding these small chimes. There was a third component to this reading: a gold banner on which we stamped from red and blue ink pads, three inch high body forms to signify each
death. One color was for the Iraqis and the other for the Americans. The material was taped with masking tape to the front of the receptionists desk which one person sat just next to and the others in a small semi circle in front. The banner fit as if it was cut to measure to the desk. Either one or two people worked on the banner while sitting on the floor, pressing an image through the cloth on to a handheld backing.
As each name was read, a stamp was placed. When we left (around 1:30) the banner, approximately three feet wide and six feet long, was filled, figure overlapping figure.
We took breaks to shift into different positions: two people read, three would chime, and two would press and stamp. The rest would simply contemplate. If you're getting a sense it had a sort of rhythm. It did. Only a handful of other people came to the office while we were there. They seemed a little surprised and quietly tried to find help for what they needed. Shortly after we first got settled a policewoman took a stroll through the office and a little while later a policeman did the same thing. Basically we spent our time uninterrupted by staff, police, or visitors.
Sometime between 12:00 and 12:30 , while we were breaking for lunch, an aid informed us that Neil would meet with us. He said Neil should be coming in soon but the representative would have perhaps twenty minutes at most to talk. Neil swung through the front door to the office (earlier we hypothesized there was a back door too). He took around five long strides and sat behind the receptionist desk while announcing he just came back from Agawam, and that he is trying to save Social Security and that we should be happy about that! "We are, we are," murmured a few while wrapping up a last bite of sandwich or fruit. It didn't take long to immediately get into the vote and how upset everyone was.
Straight away Neal said something to the effect that he voted for more funding to protect the lives of the troops in Iraq. That we had to buy Humvees and other military equipment. That he had been to the graves of soldiers and he has to answer to their families inquiries about the equipment. ( Humvees ? A hot-issue button and one that is confused -- no doubt deliberately. People in congress and military personal have questioned over a year ago, after several massive fundings for the war, " why is the Whitehouse underfunding armored Humvees? " (see: Eric Umansky's article,"Hummer Bummer",Slate magazine Feb.04)) Directly, we argued against further funding the war saying the troops would be safer if we got out of Iraq. That more funding will only continue the war and more loss of life (US stopped funding before pulling out of VietNam). That continuing with the war will not make us safer at home and throughout the world. That you can not prevent death that's what happens in war, its inevitable even with Humvees. That this massive killing of Iraqis must end. Pull-out now is the best thing to do.
However, we were not altogether unified in our expressed opinions about pulling out. One woman did not feel we should leave before believing Iraq would be secure without the US occupation.
Sometime during the discussion about getting out of Iraq, the subject of the Woolsey Resolution was raised. It was introduced by Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) in January 05.
Woolsey's resolution asks the President the following:
1. Develop and implement a plan to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq;
2. Develop and implement a plan for the reconstruction of Iraq’s civil and economic infrastructure;
3. Convene an emergency meeting of Iraq’s leadership, Iraq’s neighbors, the United Nations, and the Arab League to create an international peacekeeping force in Iraq and to replace U.S. military forces with Iraqi police and National Guard forces to ensure Iraq's security; and
4. Take all necessary steps to provide the Iraqi people the opportunity to completely control their internal affairs.
How Neal responded to the idea of the Woolsey resolution I don't actually recall. I don't believe he had much to say (concretely) if anything. Yet, by the end of meeting, Neal agreed to participate in a public forum in early June which will address the war in Iraq (The Woolsey Resolution) and other issues, i.e., Social Security, Welfare, Education, Housing. More about the specifics will appear later.
Two other important positions regarding the war were also taken up with Neal during the course of the meeting.
First, points were raised to Neals defense of funding the war (protecting the soliders) through comparison to his obligation to
represent the needs of his constinuency at home some of whom have perished or whose lives are intensely diminished because of lack of funding for programs. He was reminded that although the people here may not be presented as heros, he still must represent them.
Also, it was said that out of Springfield alone, for example, 71million dollars is allocated to the war in Iraq (the amount has climbed to 86.6 million with the recent supplemental request).
Secondly, an urgent plea was argued to recognize the tremendous numbers of families in Iraq who are facing the agony of death, grieving the loss of their loved ones.
April 1, 2005 - page created by Charlie Jenks