May 10, 2007

Black NJ Prepares To March!

This blog has been tracking the enormously important development of the Peace & Justice Coalition, an alliance of over 100 community, religious, labor, social, educational and other organizations centered in the Black communities of Northern New Jersey, from its inception. FotM published the first call, summarized the founding convention and reported on its first event, a March 24 anti-war rally that drew over 600.

Now the Peace & Justice Coalition is taking it to the next level. Larry Hamm, a convener of the Coalition and long-time chair of the People's Organization for Progress, has issued a statement calling for a statewide march in Newark on August 25.

I know years of exposure to demonstration announcements, press statements and the like can induce a kind of scanning mode where more of the document bounces off the eye than penetrates it. I encourage you, dear reader, to take a little time to read this one. Study its concerns, consider its language.

It comes out of the African American community in New Jersey and it lays out issues that community and other communities of color are facing. It draws the links between the occupation of Iraq, the War at Home, and the crimes of this government in clear accessible terms. IF you don't think the anti-war movement needs a lot more of this, perhaps you've been in a different movement than the one I've spent the last five years dealing with.

Finally I hope that, having read it, if you are anywhere in the Northeast, you set aside August 25 to take part in the People's March for Peace, Equality, Jobs and Justice.

I'll see you there.

(Statement on behalf of the Peace & Justice Coalition by Lawrence Hamm)
May 11, 2007

Unjust War Abroad & Social Crisis At Home

The U.S. war on Iraq must be brought to an end and the U.S. government must begin to concentrate on solving the dire economic and social problems in the United States. This is an immoral and illegal war. President Bush and Vice President Cheney started this war of aggression based on false assertions including claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was somehow responsible for the attack that led to the destruction of the World Trade Center. They launched an invasion against a country that did not attack nor pose any significant threat to the United States.

In Iraq, since the beginning of the unjust and unnecessary U.S. invasion and occupation, thousands of U.S. troops have been killed. Tens of thousands have been wounded. Many of them have had limbs amputated and large numbers now suffer from war related mental disorders. When these veterans come home many cannot get adequate medical care and other services. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died since the invasion and we have practically destroyed their country. Contrary to the Bush administration’s claims about stopping terrorism, the world is a far more dangerous place since the war began, and now we are faced with the possibility that the U.S. could attack Iran or another country in the midst of the current war with Iraq. President Bush said that the U.S. had to send troops there to help promote democracy. However, it appears to many that we were more concerned about access to and control of Iraq's vast oil reserves. Thus far, the U.S. has spent more than 500 billion or one-half trillion dollars on this war with the probability that at least a trillion will be spent before it is over.

In the U.S., another type of war is going on, a war on our communities. The Bush administration, while increasing war spending, has decreased domestic spending for education, health care, housing, employment, veterans’ care and other social programs. While the U.S. wages war abroad our civil liberties, civil rights, human rights and voting rights are being violated and taken away at home.

As billions of our tax dollars are spent on a war that military experts say cannot be won, the ranks of the poor and working poor in our country continue to swell, millions are unemployed and millions more are without health insurance. Schools are under funded, hospitals are being closed, and thousands of homeless sleep on the streets of our nation. Racism, racial inequality and police brutality are on the rise. Working people are struggling paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, many in the middle class are losing ground. College students and their families are falling deep into debt in order pay the astronomical cost of higher education. The gap between the rich and the rest of us is wider than it has ever been. These conditions facilitate the recruitment of young people by the U.S. military who are then sent to fight and die on the battlefields of Iraq. Immigrants are being harassed and deported without due process. The numbers of people imprisoned and detained are exploding. Environmental pollution and global warming threaten our very existence. State governments cannot adequately respond to natural disasters because many of their national guardsmen and equipment are being used in Iraq by the U.S. military. Our democracy is in crisis as people find their government unable to fulfill their desire for peace and justice.

The continued waste of billions of dollars on the war against Iraq in the face mounting social problems in our own country can only bring disastrous consequences. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his speech in opposition to the U.S. war in Vietnam, "A Time To Break Silence," a nation that spends more on its military than it does on its social development is a nation that "is approaching spiritual death."

A Time to March

It is time for a revolution of priorities. We must end this unjust war now and focus the energy and resources of our nation on solving our problems at home! Towards that end, this urgent call goes out to people across the nation to rise up and participate in The People's March for Peace, Equality, Jobs, and Justice, which will take place Saturday, August 25, 2007 in Newark, New Jersey. The purpose of the march is to demand an immediate end to the U.S. war on Iraq, redirection of funding for the war towards domestic needs, and the realization of racial equality, social and economic justice in the United States.

The goals of The People's March are to demonstrate the profound grassroots opposition to the U.S. war on Iraq, bring pressure to bear upon the government to end the war now, educate people about the war and its impact upon our communities in the U.S. and organize and mobilize people around a peace and justice agenda that will link the struggle against the war in Iraq to the struggles against injustice at home. We will march for an end to war abroad and an end to the war on our communities.

March for Peace

Now is the time to put the nation on a new course. If this war is to end and our social problems are to be seriously addressed then all of us who want peace and justice must act now. Everyone that wants an end to the war is invited to join us in Newark on August 25th. Let us all march together for peace.

We will demand an immediate end to the U.S. war on Iraq and the closing of U. S. military bases there, the return home of all U.S. troops now, adequate care for the troops upon their return, the cutoff of funding for the war in Iraq and the redirection of those funds towards domestic and social programs. We will call upon the Bush Administration to repair the damage done by U.S. military forces in Iraq. We will also demand an end to the war in Afghanistan and that no future wars be initiated against Iran or other countries.

March for Human Rights

We will demand the restoration and preservation of human rights, constitutional rights and civil liberties, which have been steadily eroded by the Bush administration in the name of the “war on terror.“ We will demand an end to the use of torture, extraordinary renditions (secret abductions), secret trials and prisons, indefinite detentions, denial of the right of habeas corpus, racial profiling, use of banned weapons, and further violations of the Geneva Conventions and international law against individuals whether they are U. S. citizens or residents, or citizens of other countries.

We will demand that the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay be closed, and that the PATRIOT, Homeland Security and Military Commissions acts and the unlawful expansion of presidential power be repealed. We will call for justice and freedom for all political prisoners.

March for an End to Violence

We cannot call for an end to the war on Iraq while ignoring the war that is going on in the streets of the United States. Violence is engulfing communities throughout the nation. There is a state of emergency in many cities and towns. Every year thousands die from gun-related and other forms of violence in our country. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of homicide among the industrialized nations of the world. When we march on August 25th, we will call for unity in our communities, peace in our streets and an end to the violence that pervades U.S. society. We will demand an end to the flow of illegal drugs and guns into our communities. And we will demand an end to the grinding poverty and other economic and social conditions that drive so many towards drugs, crime, violence and death.

March for Equality

Forty-four years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of a dream of racial equality. During the sixties, as a result of African Americans' struggle for freedom and justice some progress was made. However, since then many of the gains that were made have been rolled back or eliminated. Racial equality has not yet been realized for African Americans and other communities of color in our country. Racial inequality, discrimination, segregation, oppression, violence, and police brutality are still a part of everyday life in America. In fact, in some respects racial inequality and injustice is greater today than it was during Dr. King's lifetime.

On August 25th, let us march with renewed commitment for the realization of racial equality in the United States. We will call for an end to the poverty, unemployment, substandard schools and housing, and other adverse conditions that continue to plague African American, Latino, Native American and other communities of color. We will once again demand an end to police brutality and the establishment of truly empowered police review boards and agencies. We will demand equal voting rights and representation for District of Columbia residents. We will demand reparations for the descendants of Africans enslaved in the United States and the passage of H.R. 40, the Conyers reparations study bill.

We will march for equal rights and fair treatment for all people regardless of race, color, ethnicity, sex, class, nationality, religion, creed, disability or sexual orientation or preference. We will demand an end to racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination, oppression and violence. We call for an end to bias related violence, harassment and attacks against and unjust deportations of Muslim, Arab, Asian, and Latino citizens and immigrants.

March for Jobs and Justice

On that day, let us march for jobs and economic justice. We will demand the redirection of funds for the U.S. war on Iraq towards employment, housing, healthcare, education, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other domestic programs. During his lifetime Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called upon Congress to enact into law an economic bill of rights. On August 25th, we will demand an economic bill of rights that includes the creation of a massive jobs program that pays a living wage, an increase in the minimum wage, health care for all people from the cradle to the grave and the passage of H.R. 676, the national health insurance bill.

We will call for economic democracy. We will demand an end to poverty, unemployment and homelessness. We will call for the passage of H.R. 4347, a bill to help end homelessness in the U.S. We will demand affordable housing for all and environmental justice. We will demand jobs programs to end the depression-level unemployment that exists in African American and other communities of color. We will call for economic development in our urban communities and the revitalization of our cities. We will demand the environmental clean up and funding for the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast and its communities. We will demand for justice, housing, jobs, and the right of return for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. We will call for the creation of jobs to develop renewable sources of energy and to increase energy efficiency within our society in order to decrease our oil dependency and help stop global climate change.

On that day, we will march for the right of all workers to be organized and represented by unions, without fear of retribution by their employers for participating in union activities. We will demand fair and decent wages for immigrant workers, documented and undocumented, an end to unjust raids on immigrant communities and to the stealth deportations that separate and destroy families.

March for Accountability

On that day, let us march to demand accountability. Those responsible for the disaster caused by the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe must be held accountable. We will call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for their handling of the Iraq war and its resulting crimes against humanity and the Hurricane Katrina crisis.

March of History

The march is being held on August 25th to coincide with the 44th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and with the second anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, which killed many and left hundreds of thousands displaced and devastated due to the failure of the federal government to adequately respond to their needs. Marching in Newark enables us to connect this event to the 40th anniversary commemoration of the 1967 Newark Rebellion, a major event in the struggle for racial justice. It also helps us to highlight the needs of our cities and the need for local organizing.

March for a Just Society and Peaceful World

The People’s March is sponsored by The Peace & Justice Coalition, which is comprised of more than 100 diverse grassroots organizations. The coalition calls upon everyone who wants an end to the war on Iraq to join the march and fill the streets of Newark on August 25th. We call upon people of all races, all people of good will across the country, and people from all walks of life to join us on that day.

We especially call upon historically oppressed communities, including African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Indigenous and other peoples of color who have been among those most opposed to this war to join us and make their opposition visible. On August 25th, let us march in the spirit of unity and hope, determined to keep the pressure on until the war in Iraq is ended and the ideal of a more just society, peaceful world and better life for all is finally realized.

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