Local Anti-War Activism

Banner Drop Successful
Peace activists across the region attached anti-war banners to Thruway overpasses Friday, April 11th at 5 pm. Banners adorned at least eight bridges. Because it was so loosely organized, we have no idea how many groups participated. We spread word across the state. Wells College students on one bridge saw a banner on another nearby, and didn’t know who had hung it. Cayuga Coalition for Peace covered three bridges, Syracuse did two, and the Mohawk Valley Peace Coalition’s banner made the Utica newspaper. Reporters called from Albany and the Associated Press.

Drivers gave many groups a lot of feedback in the form of honking and hand gestures (if we couldn’t see what gesture they were making, we counted that as support ...we had a lot of fans). All who participated enjoyed the action. State and local police gave groups varying amounts of attention. Some groups were told to remove their banners and others were completely ignored. In Syracuse, banner hangers told to leave one bridge simply moved to another. Sentiments expressed on the banners included “Honk for Peace,” “No US Occupation of Iraq,” and “Your TV Lies.” Since your TV still lies, we’ve saved the banners for future use.
–Shelagh Clancy

Crime Scene – Do Not Cross – Crime Scene – Do Not Cross – Crime Scene …
These are the words we wanted to surround the Federal Building with in downtown Syracuse. These are the words we wanted the people of Syracuse to see as they entered the local outpost of the Bush administration’s war on Terror, war on children, war on justice. In the blustery wind whipping across the plaza, we quickly wound the tape around the railings, trees, and planters that fronted the building. Unimpeded by the police, we declared that our government, symbolized by that building and the offices of our elected representatives, was responsible for committing war crimes against the people of Iraq.

As one group was making visible the commission of the crime, another was standing in front of the Federal Building’s doors, holding pictures of Iraqis, while an indictment against our various “representatives” was read. A third group went into Representative Walsh’s office and spoke with him. Walsh left the building shortly thereafter, and when they expressed interest in waiting for him to come back, they were arrested.
–Rae Kramer

Nottingham High School
As a result of the current conditions in the world, students at Nottingham High School have been organizing against the war and voicing their opinions. Students organized a rally and march on the one-week anniversary of the war beginning. About 50 students gathered outside of the school chanting and speaking their minds. To their surprise, several teachers rallied and marched with them, including their principal, Deb Mastrapolo. The students continue to be active in the anti-war movement and support the Youth Empowerment for Peace group that meets every Tuesday from 4-5 pm at the Peace Council.
–Gabrielle Barry-Caufield

Le Moyne College Students
Le Moyne College’s chapter of Amnesty International held its annual Human Rights Week on April 7-11. Events included Jail Cafe (where students and professors are “arrested and jailed” to represent political prisoners, and the student body is then asked to write urgent action letters to free them), viewing and discussing the film “And the Band Played On” (this year’s main focus is HIV/AIDS), and Jamnesty (where Le Moyne College bands played to raise money to buy school supplies for Afghan children).

On Thursday, March 27, a small group of students and I dressed all in black and painted our faces white. We wrote a statement to the school newspaper and wore signs explaining what we were doing. Our dress and silence represented the victims on all sides of this war (such as Allied and Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi civilians, the environment, truth).
–Heather Colonese

Pax Christi
Pax Christi Syracuse meets on the last Saturday of every month at 208 Slocum Ave., Syracuse. The meeting schedule involves prayer and personal sharing (9:30-10:30 am), then a business meeting (10:30-noon). In the Iraq Project, we provide ongoing support for a Pax Christi member, Cynthia Banas, still in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team of Voices in the Wilderness. We participate in the vigils, rallies and actions involving the sanctions and the consequences of the war against Iraq. We currently sponsor workshops on conscientious objection and nonviolence for counselors in local Catholic high schools and colleges. All are welcome to attend. Contact Dick Keough, 476-0048.
–Bill Cuddy

SU-For-Peace-and-Justice is a collective of students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty and staff at Syracuse University, which mobilized to organize a teach-in and demonstration against the war in Iraq. We had also organized a film screening to provide information about the history of the Middle East crisis and the events leading to the first Gulf War.

Our concerns, however, extend beyond issues of international conflict. We intend to provide a critical and interactive forum on campus where collective and individual concerns about society, polity, culture, and economics facing us today at local, national, and international levels, can be aired and debated. We hope to build close ties with the Syracuse community in our endeavor, which will enable students to get involved with issues beyond their immediate academic environment. In the future we are planning teach-ins, workshops, screenings, panels and presentations on campus and if possible in the high schools and community colleges of CNY.
For more information contact suforpeaceandjustice@yahoogroups.com
–Sanjukta Mukherjee

Building Bridges
An assemblage of local people from diverse religious groups and peace organizations have been meeting on Sunday afternoons at the Islamic Society Mosque (925 Comstock Ave. across from Oakwood Cemetery) to begin finding ways of building bonds with our neighbors. The group hopes that by sharing information, culture, and skills, we will create a support network for each other. It hopes to promote a greater understanding of diversity, and provide an opportunity to learn about, discuss, and respond to current events which effect our lives locally, nationally, and worldwide.
If you are interested in learning more about these events, please call Lizz King at 422-4924 or Magda Bayoumi at 446-7466 or email lizzking1@yahoo.com.
–Lizz King

Syracuse University – SPAN
The Student Peace Action Network (SPAN) has been very busy in the past few months. We kicked April off with some guerilla theater, holding a “Die-In” on the quad to protest the war on Iraq. On April 8, SPAN held a teach-in about the School of the Americas and the World Bank/IMF. Days later, members of SPAN held a silent candlelight vigil from 8 am to 8 pm on the Hendricks Chapel steps. On April 16, in the same location, a poetry reading and speak- out session for peace drew a crowd of about 20. In addition to these events, SPAN members have also been participating in SEAC’s (Student Environmental Action Coalition) efforts to remove the National Security Studies Program from SU, tenting on the Quad with fellow students for a week.
On April 25 there was a Funeral for Democracy, an anti-war protest on the quad, followed by a march organized by the NAACP to protest the Midland sewage treatment plant.
Information and photos of events can be found at http://students.syr.edu/span. Contact Emily at ejmoelle@syr.edu with questions.
–Emily Moeller

Peace Action CNY
Peace Action is building momentum in its Campaign for a New Foreign Policy, which articulates a broad, long-term and pro-active vision for justice and peace. The Bush Administration has worked hard to convince the American public that US military domination of the planet is the best way to “security.” Rather than continuously react to one horrifically misguided military venture after another, we hope to present a strong alternative vision for our future. We will be fostering relationships with mainstream constituent groups in order to put pressure on elected officials, and spark robust public debate about the Bush Administration’s radical, unilateralist, imperialist foreign policy in the 2004 elections.

Peace Action is also sponsoring the Faces of Iraq photography exhibit on its 2003 nationwide tour. The show will be hosted at the ThINC “Company” gallery space in downtown Syracuse, from May 14-24. There will be an event featuring speakers and discussion on May 17 from 5-8 pm. Ed Kinane, recently returned from Iraq with the Iraq Peace Team, will answer questions about his experiences, and will be joined by a member of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. There will also be a closing reception on the 22nd from 6-10 pm. Jeffrey McKenzie, of Military Families Speak Out, will be the keynote speaker. The gallery is located at 110 West Fayette Street, and is open from 11-7 pm Monday through Friday.
Anyone interested in joining Peace Action may call the office at 478-7442.
–Rebecca Nellenbach

Student Encampment Connects the War to the University
Rising from the bland patches of grass that usually stretch across the quadrangle at Syracuse University, during the week of April 13 a group of students from the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) set up a village of tents and a giant sandwich board illustrating the Iraq war’s human death toll. Painted black with ominous white letters, it included both the lives of Iraqi civilians and Coalition Forces and was updated daily. On April 17 the number of casualties totaled 2043.
The students camped all week, Sunday evening until Friday morning, not only to protest the war on Iraq, but also to shed light on the connections the University has to the military and the war machine. The days spent rotating shifts between attending classes and taking showers also marked the last week of school for the National Security Studies’ Management Program (NSS), which is hosted by the Maxwell School of Citizenship.

SEAC wants to illuminate the connection for students between the war on Iraq and similar foreign policy issues with the NSS and what it teaches. Seminars taught at the NSS for the week included “Using the Military Domestically” and “Homeland Security.” “Only officials from the Department of Defense are allowed to attend, and the money that the campus gets from the Department of Defense does not benefit the real students at the University,” remarked Diana MacKenzie, a sophomore printmaking major. SEAC’s anti-militarism campaign is based on information obtained through simple online research throughout the semester. “There should be a significant divide between education and the military; sort of like separation of church and state. Close relationships with the military make SU complicit in what the military does. And we want that to end,” said Jacquay Winfield, a junior chemistry major.

Throughout the week fellow students curious about the purpose of their encampment approached SEAC members. Many interesting discussions were sparked and the group received much support from faculty, staff, students, and visitors. The warm weather on Monday and Tuesday brought hundreds of students out into the sunshine and onto the quad, allowing SEAC members to reach a large audience. On Wednesday night, during the group’s weekly meeting, a social work class from the University delivered nearly 20 votive candles to the group to keep them warm and thanked them for “doing the tough stuff.” Other supporters have donated food, including coffee and tea on the cold mornings.

The school newspaper, The Daily Orange, brought anti-war activists great news on Thursday morning. It was officially announced that the Military Photo Journalism (MPJ) program was not going to be renewed for next year by the Department of Defense. That morning, an addendum was made for the Human Death Toll sign reading “One down, One to go” referring to the cancellation of the MPJ, and the continuing struggle to rid SU of the NSS.
–Lauren Shields l