On January 15, at the Federal Building in downtown Syracuse, over 250 people gathered to show their opposition to the Bush administration's drive to war. Vigilers marched on the sidewalk along Clinton Street for almost an hour holding signs and chanting. After a few words from the Peace Council, we closed with a song led by members of the Syracuse Community Choir.
As the song was ending, 16 people gathered in front of the doors to the Federal Building and staged a stationary theatrical scene depicting interests driving the US towards war (oil and weapons industry, Bush administration), and victims of war (US soldiers, Iraqi civilians). We stood, some silent, some singing, for almost an hour as federal marshals and city police ordered us repeatedly to move and debated how to proceed. Many vigilers stayed with us through the cold, providing much appreciated support. All 16 were arrested, charged with "disorderly conduct," and released the same afternoon with a written order to appear in Syracuse city court the morning of January 24. There they were arrainged. Their next court date, for a pre-trial hearing, is April 2 at 10am.
The following is an excerpt of a statement delivered to Senators Clinton and Schumer, and Representative Walsh on behalf of those arrested and their support team.
"The chain reaction of evil _ hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars _ must be broken, or we will be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."
_ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Strength to Love," 1963
In the Spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Opposing the Iraq War with Nonviolence
We gather today, the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and join with citizens across the nation who signed the Pledge of Resistance, a call for civil disobedience in opposing the war against Iraq. We carry on Dr. King's legacy of nonviolent resistance to militarism, racism, and poverty, in the struggle for peace and justice.
We wear the cloak of citizenship with reverence. We find strength and inspiration in the examples of citizens who have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience to further the common good. From miners and factory workers whose courage and blood gave us weekends free from work, to dedicated women who believed that the ideals of democracy ought not exclude them, to the descendants of slaves who knew that no government should rob them of their dignity, we stand on the hallowed ground of countless souls who gave their lives to hold this nation to the promise of "liberty and justice for all."
King linked economic and social injustice here at home to violent foreign policies: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
George W. Bush has failed to convince us that Iraq poses any real threat to this country. Meanwhile, his connections to the oil corporations that gave millions of dollars to his campaign and stand to profit from control of Iraqi oil are well-documented.
The US houses the world's largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction_and has used them. The Bush administration has opposed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, threatened to violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and claimed the right to a pre-emptive strike against any country that defies its wishes. Such extreme unilateral actions by the only superpower make it a dangerous rogue nation indeed.
The UN has documented that the twelve years of sanctions against Iraq leave that country devastated by a half-million needless infant deaths. No claim that Iraqis are our "enemies" can make them any less our sisters and brothers.
We stand here today to nonviolently resist war against Iraq. In these days of crisis there can be NO BUSINESS AS USUAL.