February 27, 2007

DNT Article on City Council Resolution

The city of Duluth has joined hundreds of cities and counties nationwide asking for American troops to be withdrawn from Iraq.

A resolution opposing the war in Iraq was approved 6-2 at Monday’s crowded City Council meeting, with At Large Councilor and Navy Reserve Officer Roger Reinert abstaining. Councilors Russ Stewart, Laurie Johnson, Don Ness, Jim Stauber, Russ Stover and Greg Gilbert voted yes, and Councilors Tim Little and Garry Krause voted no.

Stewart read the entire resolution to the audience and Stover, council president, asked for speakers to be calm and respectful while addressing the council.

Speakers from the audience, numbering about 15, as well as councilors spoke with eloquence and emotion, whether for or against the resolution.

Councilor Johnson, who joined Stewart in submitting the symbolic measure, was in tears as she described living with a veteran of war.

“We can’t continue to hide under a rock,” she said. “It hits us right here at home in great numbers.”

The resolution, to be sent to President Bush and federal and state lawmakers, would support troops by urging the president and federal lawmakers to “commence planning an orderly and comprehensive withdrawal of United States military personnel from Iraq,” and ensure compensation and care upon return.

Local activist Joel Sipress, who helped organize a rally before the meeting supporting the resolution, wanted it to be stronger.

“Because our national leaders have let us down, we need our local leaders to speak up,” he said.

About 30 people from the Northland Antiwar Coalition gathered in the City Hall lobby, where Sipress encouraged supporters to be civil.

“We’ve all been touched by the war,” he said, speaking before the council, adding this decision was not a partisan issue. “We can set aside our past disputes and … show that there is a broad consensus in Duluth that wants to end the occupation in Iraq.”

Little voted no because he doesn’t believe the issue falls under city business.

“We’re not in a position to second-guess the federal government,” he said.

The resolution could be detrimental to survival of the 148th Fighter Wing, said David Ross, president of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce.

“At a national level, the Guard tracks, records any type of initiative [such as the resolution],” he said. “We have to be aware of the unintended consequences.”

The base was recommended for closure in 2005 but was kept open after intense lobbying from the community and elected officials.

Stauber, retired from the military, wanted to make clear that he supports troops but also encourages the president to find a way to end the occupation in Iraq.

“There is nothing wrong with sending a message of support to our troops,” he said.

The language of the resolution was changed so that it no longer singles out the Minnesota National Guard, with wording borrowed from a resolution recently passed by the Minneapolis City Council. Stauber thanked Stewart for reworking the resolution.

Stewart, who began his effort in January, said sending messages from every level of government is important.

“If enough communities and state legislatures make their voices heard, it will be felt,” Stewart said. “Some people are angry about the resolution. I’m angry too. Angry we’re involved in a war of choice against a country that did not attack us; didn’t have the capacity to attack us. We have to suppress that anger and get to working toward solutions.”

[the article above is from the Duluth News Tribune of Feb. 27, 2007. It was written by Jana Hollingsworth.]

February 25, 2007

Regional Anti-War Protest in Duluth on March 18

Sunday, March 18
Assemble at 2pm at the MN Power Plaza for a march.
Rally at 2:30pm at the Duluth Civic Center.

The Northland Anti-War Coalition will be hosting a regional march and rally against the war in Iraq on Sunday, March 18. The rally is to commemorate the 4-year anniversary of the unjust United States invasion of Iraq. On that same weekend we'll be joined by hundreds of thousands of others who will be holding similar protests across the continent - inclunding a march on the Pentagon that'll be held on March 17 in Washington D.C.

Here in the Northwoods we plan to assemble on Sunday, March 18 at the MN Power Plaza, which is located at the corner of Lake Avenue & Superior St. in downtown Duluth. We'll be marching from the MN Power Plaza at 2pm up to the Duluth Civic Center, which is at 515 W. 1st Street [the Civic Center includes the Duluth Federal Bldg., County Courthouse & City Hall]. At the Civic Center we'll be holding a rally with speakers and music that'll begin at 2:30pm in front of the Priley Fountain.

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. With the number of Americans and Iraqis loosing their lives growing by the day, we feel it is crucial to once again raise our voices and demand that the troops be brought home now. Public opinion is dramatically swinging in our favor, but we need to keep the anti-war movement visible and in the streets so as to provide a rallying point for this growing anti-war sentiment. We need you to join us to stand and be counted as a voice for peace on March 18!


-Help us spread the word! Tell all of your friends, co-workers, classmates and neighbors about March 18.

-Help us distribute fliers. Drop us a line at antiwarmasses@yahoo.com and we'll arrange to email or drop some off for you.

-Write letters to the editor to the local papers urging folks to turn out, and explaining why you think it's important to oppose the war.

-Send the "Northland Anti-War Coalition" a donation to help defray the costs of organizing this rally. Our address is P.O. Box 16853, Duluth MN 55816.

-Forward this email far and wide!


-There will be a protest in Wausau, WI on Saturday, March 17. The details for this are apparently still being working out. For more info contact Steve Burns at outreach@wnpj.org.

-Sunday March 18 at 1pm: Gather at Hennepin & Lagoon Aves. 1:30PM: A concluding rally will be held near Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis. Sponsored by the Iraq Peace Action Coalition.

February 22, 2007

Duluth City Council Anti-War Resolution

On Monday 2/26 the Duluth City Council will be considering a support the troops and bring them home resolution sponsored by Councilor Russ Stewart. At this time we hope that there will be enough support among the other councilors for this to pass; But we can't take this for granted; You can be sure that they are getting plenty of pressure from those opposed to such a resolution as well.

Please do all you can to support passage of this resolution. Some options include:

1) There will be a rally prior to the council meeting at 6:30 PM in front of City Hall main entrance on Monday 2/26. Please try to make this rally, and spread the word!

2) Council meeting starts at 7:00 on 2/26. Attend the meeting and, if so moved, sign up for a 3 minute speaking spot during the meeting.

3) Continue to e-mail or call your council members. For contact info see the City of Duluth web pages @ www.ci.duluth. mn.us

Thank-you from the Northland Anti-War Coalition,
Peter Krause

February 13, 2007

Report on the Feb. 12 Duluth City Council Meeting

The Northland Anti-War Coalition had a presence at tonight’s Duluth City Council meeting in support of Councilor Russ Stewart’s proposed resolution calling for all reasonable steps to put an end to Minnesota National Guard deployments in Iraq. Those who spoke in support of Russ’s resolution were Ron Miller, Daniel Fanning, Andy Anderson, and Barb Olson, who delivered over four hundred petitions signatures in support of the resolution to the council.

It is our expectation that either Russ’s resolution or a modified resolution calling for all U.S. troops to be brought home from Iraq will be on the agenda at the February 26th meeting—two weeks from tonight. There appears to be some significant movement in favor of passing some sort of anti-war resolution.

[the above report was written by Joel Sipress]

February 11, 2007

Letter to the DNT About our the National Guard

It has come to my attention that Duluth city councilor Russ Stewart was going to introduce a resolution calling for the National Guard to be brought home from Iraq. The resolution closely follows the wording of a petition with several hundred signatures which will be presented to councillors. However, the resolution has so far failed to make it on the agenda for lack of support.

The disaster in Iraq is an international issue, but it is a local issue as well. The cost of the war breaks down to thousands of tax dollars per person--money that should be spent on our schools, health care, jobs and infrastructure. The new federal budget introduced by President Bush axes billions more that would otherwise go to communities, and funnels that into the Iraqi quagmire.

Our "citizen soldiers," who are so much a part of the fabric of our community, are serving two or three tours of duty in a war they didn't sign on for. With the latest troop escalation, there's no telling when they will be able to return to their homes and families. Those who come back alive are more often than not physically and/or mentally scarred. It's a stunning statistic that up to a third of homeless people are veterans, and up to 200,000 veterans are living in shelters or on the street on any given day. Divorce rates in the military have skyrocketed by 28% since the war began, 80% among officers. While the federal government gives us platitudes about Homeland Security, we are sacrificing the homes and the security of our loved ones and our community.

We all have a stake in ending the war. The latest polls show a clear majority of Americans and Iraqis favor U.S. troops immediately withdrawing from Iraq. The war has become the elephant in the room that politicians at all levels are reluctant to face. But a working democracy requires the bravery to deal with important, painful issues. City council, do the right thing: open the debate on how the war is affecting us all.

-Carl Sack

Report on the Jan. 27 Anti-War Protest in D.C.

Just over a week ago, 134 people from Wisconsin and Minnesota on three buses undertook the journey to Washington, D.C. to join with thousands of others to voice their protest to the Iraq war. These buses were organized jointly by the Northland Anti-War Coalition (Duluth, MN) and Peace North (Hayward, WI). Additionally from our region, three Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice buses went from Madison, one bus was organized by Peace Action from Milwaukee, and dozens of other people from the region took vans, cars or other modes of Transportation.

The NAWC/Peace North buses hosted people from all over the region, including Duluth, Superior, Ashland, Hayward, Rice Lake, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Winona, Wasau, Green Bay, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities area, and outliers from as far west as Detroit Lakes, MN. Riding along were reporters from WOJB, Wisconsin Public Radio, and the Wasau Daily Herald, and bus riders met with other media at some pick-up points and in D.C. The bus riders were of all ages, from 16 months to over 70, and from all different backgrounds. But they all came together for the same cause: to demand that this senseless war be brought to an end, that Congress cut funding for the war, and that the troops be brought home now.

Two of the three buses made it to Washington on time. Unfortunately, the third bus broke down and it took some time for the passengers to find another bus that could take them to Washington. They made to Washington toward the tail end of the March. Many, however, still said that they considered it a worthwhile trip, and would do it again (though hopefully next time with a better bus).

When the bus riders got to Washington, they joined the throng of over 100,000 protesters on the National Mall in front of the Capitol. The protest, which was organized by United for Peace and Justice, featured a two-hour rally and about a three-mile march around the Capitol building. The demands were to cut funding for the war and bring the troops home.

The speakers at the rally were fairly tame, but reflected the sentiments of those present. Speakers included celebrities such as Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Jane Fonda, as well as political figures including Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Jesse Jackson, and war
resister Lt. Ehren Watada, who faces courtmartial for refusing deployment to Iraq. At the same time, protesters had an opportunity to peruse many literature tables set up by various groups.

The march was calm but determined. Several people reflected afterwards on how powerful it felt to be in the presence of so many of like mind, all protesting for peace, in solidarity with the majority of Americans and Iraqis. There was a large presence of military families at the protest, who testified to the falseness of the claim that those who protested the war did not support the troops. Many of the soldiers currently serving in Iraq have been called back for a second or third tour of duty or had their tours extended, while their families' lives are interrupted by their absence. The protesters were supporting the troops by demanding their return to their homes and families.

At one point along the march route, about a dozen counter-protesters held signs that read "Hippies Smell" and "Money for Bombs, Not Welfare". By contrast, some of the anti-war protesters' signs included "Iraq Escalation: Wrong Way", "Out of Iraq Now", and the ever popular "Impeach Bush".

After the march, some representatives from the Northland Anti-War Coalition met with other Minnesotans who would be staying until Monday to meet with congressional representatives. A scroll addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking to bring the troops home, which had gathered signatures and messages from people in the Duluth/Superior region, was handed off to these activists, who then took it to the office of Rep. Jim Oberstar, with instructions that it should be passed on to Pelosi.

In the evening, the protesters from Minnesota and Wisconsin took the train out of the city and met back at the buses for the long trip home. After nearly 48 hours on a cramped bus, the end of the trip got a little zany. But the long ride gave people the opportunity to become familiar with each other and to share many valuable conversations and stories. Perhaps surprisingly, there were very few complaints from riders about the trip. Some were even gung-ho to do it again.

There will undoubtedly be opportunity for this. We need to build the movement to really challenge the warmakers, so that next time there is double, triple, or quadruple the turnout. The American people are outraged about the war, but if they want it to stop, they'll have to
get organized. Together, we can stop the war machine, but it will take a lot more work, a lot more marches, and perhaps a lot more long bus rides to make it happen.

The next opportunity for large-scale protest will be March 17. There will be a march on the Pentagon, and local protests in recognition of the fourth anniversary of the invasion, including a protest in Duluth. To find out more, contact the Northland Anti-War Coalition by going to www.myspace. com/nawc, or e-mail mnsocialist@ yahoo.com, or call (715) 394-6660. For information on Peace North's activities, you can visit their website at www.peacenorth. org.

Here are some comments from bus riders:

"The best part of the trip for me was going to DC for the first time ever and doing something. I have wanted to do [that] for a long time." -Brian Melendez, Rice Lake

"The bus ride is hard. But worth it." -Carol Hannah, Hayward

"Since the trip I am always thinking of what I can do to raise the awareness of people in the community. I am going to plaster a 1986 Volvo wagon I own with bumper sticker I picked up in DC. It's a start!" -Marty McGraw, Dassel, MN

"I loved the fact that we had such a great group from this neck of the woods. I loved being surrounded by like minded people. I was so proud of us all." -Jennifer Hartling, Hayward

"Knowing there are so many others out there who know the truth, and are working to stop the insanity, helps one to survive the feeling of hopelessness." -Chloe Manz, Brule

[the above report was written by Carl Sack]