The November 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee

 
 

National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website

 

 

In this issue:

AFSC Honors War Resisters

David Harris: A Stirring Call to Conscience

Leonard McNeil: Resisting 'Rich Man's Wars'

Karen Meredith: A Mother's Plea for Peace

Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar

Massive Police Sweeps in Contra Costa County

Housing First for Poor Families

Landlords Sue to End Just Cause

Struggle to Save the Free Box

YEAH! Shelters Homeless Youth

Gentrification in Berkeley

New Home for East Bay Law Center for Poor

Wal-Mart Pushes Philanthrophy

Sutter Health's War Against Health Workers

Growing Gulf Between Rich and Poor

Inequality in America

Poor Leonard's Almanack: On Forgiveness


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Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

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The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar

by Jenny Shields

A woman places flowers in empty combat boots in honor of the human lives lost in war, as part of AFSC's traveling "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit. Lydia Gans photo

Six hundred and nineteen communities across America held vigils as part of "Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar," a peace campaign sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an international social justice organization. Candlelight vigils, marches and prayer readings were held in 49 states at various times on Wednesday, October 26, following the tragic 2000th American military casualty in the Iraq war.

The vigils were co-sponsored by Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization of families who lost loved ones in Iraq, co-founded by Cindy Sheehan.

The protests coincide with the announcement of promising new legislation to be presented by Rep. Jim McGovern prohibiting the use of taxpayers' funds for military use in Iraq, and redirecting these funds toward diplomatic construction efforts.

The events were attended by thousands of supporters hailing from large metropolitan cities along both coasts to small towns across the heartland. Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar implores Congress to end the Iraq war by eliminating its funding. Through this campaign, AFSC calls on Congress to bring the troops home and close U.S. bases in Iraq.

In Holyoke, Massachusetts, the AFSC solemnly placed the 2000th pair of combat boots representing the latest U.S. military casualty in Iraq in its traveling exhibition, "Eyes Wide Open: The Human Cost of War," which has touched audiences in more than 70 U.S. cities by underscoring the exorbitant human and financial costs of war.

"It's time for the troops to come home," said Kathleen McQuillen, who organized events in Des Moines, Iowa, where crowds surrounded a flag-draped casket outside the Federal Building while names of 2,000 Americans killed in Iraq were read aloud. "How many more people are going to have to die?"

"Last night's vigil brought me to tears as I heard many heartfelt expressions of both deep sorrow and solid determination," said Kay Jones from Philadelphia. "It truly felt like the City of Brotherly Love."

V. Kelly Bellis from Blue Hill, Maine, was a bit more solemn: "[The] 2000th soldier has been killed," she writes. "Another grim milestone."

"On a chilly afternoon," writes Peta Ikambana, fresh from an event in Washington, D.C., "hundreds of Washingtonians, Virginians, and who knows who else, were driving by, waiving a [peace] sign, in clear agreement with our message: Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar.... This war must end now!"

AFSC also urges Congress to redirect funds now consumed by the war in Iraq to the human needs laid bare by recent hurricanes as well as other domestic concerns.

"The U.S. is spending over $5.6 billion a month to fight this war -- over $200 billion total to date," explained Mary Ellen McNish, AFSC general secretary. "The devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the hard truths it brought home about who does and doesn't have access to the American Dream tells us all how desperately these resources are needed in other areas."

AFSC is particularly encouraged by the recent announcement made by U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who plans to introduce legislation prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds for deployment of U.S. armed forces to Iraq. This bill will also provide funding for a peaceful and orderly withdrawal of American troops, transitional security, and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

"Working solutions for Iraq will be political solutions," McNish stated. "Diplomacy and dialogue in close cooperation with the Iraqi government and broad sectors of Iraqi society are the way forward to peace and to rebuilding the United State's strained relationship with the international community. Continued fighting and occupation promises only further deaths and injuries, more widows and orphans, more separated families."

For some, these vigils were only the beginning. Connie Jenkins from Pueblo, Colorado, said: "Vigils are planned every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Vietnam Memorial until the war is ended."

Darla Shelden described the scene in Oklahoma City this way: "People held signs along Classen Boulevard and cars honked [their horns] at the 'honk for peace' signs... all in the honor and memory of not only the 2,000 American soldiers, but [also] the over 100,000 Iraqis and soldiers from other countries that have all been killed and families that have their lives destroyed or changed forever by this horrible war based on a lie."

She adds: "We must tell Congress: 'Not One More Death, Not One More Dollar.' Don't let the vigils stop here. Keep up the good work."

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.


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