Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans returned their war medals to NATO on Sunday, at the conclusion of a mass march through Chicago's downtown that took the marchers to the security perimeter surrounding the NATO summit at McCormick Place. One by one, the veterans explained why they were returning their medals, dedicating their action to "my brothers and sisters affected with traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder," "the 33,000 civilians who have died in Afghanistan that won’t have a monument built for them," "the one-third of the women in the military that are sexually assaulted by their peers," "Private First Class Bradley Manning, who sacrificed everything to show us the truth about these wars," and "the children of Iraq that no longer have fathers and mothers." Read more... Photo: Navy vet Todd Dennis of Madison throws back his Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Photo by David Soumis.
Tens of thousands of people came to Chicago on Sunday to protest the annual meeting of NATO, joining in a mass march through downtown that ended in a ceremony just blocks from where NATO officials were meeting. Iraq and Afghanistan vets returned medals they had been awarded in both wars, throwing the medals in the direction of McCormick place, the site of the NATO conference. Ash Woolson, a former sergeant in the Wisconsin National Guard who served in Iraq, took part in the medal turn-in protest. "We don't want to be carrying the burden of the blood that has stained these medals any longer," said Woolson, 30, who now teaches photography at the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin. Lillian Moats, who came from her home in Downers Grove to join the march said, "If we weren't spending such outrageous amounts on war, we'd have money for human needs. It seems like our country's priorities are upside down." Read more... (Photo by Madison Capitol Protesters)
WNPJ member group Grassroutes Caravan was featured in a report by the Chicago Examiner about the decision by Trinity Episcopal Church in Chicago to offer NATO protestors camping space on its property the weekend of the NATO summit, May 19th and 20th. Trinity is the religious congregation closest to McCormick Place, where the NATO summit will take place, and Grassroutes Caravan is the " the first group of protestors to takeTrinity up on their offer." Grassroutes Caravan's "Mobile village of resilience" comprising up to 50 cyclists leaves Madison on May 13th and will arrive in Chicago on May 18th. Along their route, the caravan intends to "engage with locals as we ride, providing our "people power" by volunteering in community gardens, helping out with ecological restoration projects and otherwise giving back to those who would host our tent village on their land." (photo: Chicago Tribune) Read more...
Join the Grassroutes Caravan for a fundraiser and kickoff on Saturday, May 5, 11 AM-Midnight at the Evolution Arts Collective (202 S Dickenson St.). Workshops, music, games, a silent auction... it will be loads of fun for a good cause, to help the Cycles of Revolution: ¡Brake the Banks! Ride get to Chicago in time for the May 20th NATO protest. There is still room for you to join the ride! Rider applications are due on May 5 as well, so go to the Grassroutes Caravan website to fill one out. The ride leaves Madison May 13 and will stay in Milwaukee for a day, then head south (you can join the ride en route if you can't make it for the whole week). Contact email@example.com for more info!
NATO, the US-sponsored coalition that brought you the war in Afghanistan, will be holding a major conference on May 20 in Chicago. Tens of thousands of peace-loving people from all over the country and the world will converge on Chicago for the mass march and rally calling for an end to NATO's wars. WNPJ will be taking a bus down to the protest on May 20; Click here for details on the WNPJ bus. Peace Action Wisconsin also has buses from Milwaukee, and National Nurses United is sponsoring a free bus from Madison on Friday the 18th. The Voices for Creative Nonviolence Walkers left from Madison on 5/3 (see photo below). A full schedule of events happening in Chicago this week is available from the Occupied Chicago Tribune. If you can't make it to the protest yourself but want to support those who can, you can also donate to sponsor a low-income bus rider using the paypal button on this page.
The NATO meeting planned for Chicago in May has taken on even greater importance, now that the Obama administration has announced plans to sign a "Strategic Partnership agreement" with Afghan President Karzai at the summit, giving the U.S. the right to station tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan indefinitely. President Obama has talked about 2014 as the year when the Afghan military would take the lead in all military operations as U.S. troops withdraw, but the agreement planned for Chicago would enable the U.S. to keep troops -- by some estimates, more than 20,000 troops -- in Afghanistan far past the 2014 date, while allowing the U.S. to maintain multiple bases in Afghanistan for years to come.
Take Action: Help send a clear message that we do not consent to long-term bases in Afghanistan and a never-ending U.S. occupation of that country. On May 20th, a large, permitted march will make its way from Daley Plaza in the heart of Chicago's downtown, to McCormick Place, the site of the NATO summit. The marchers will be voicing a view held by more than 70% of Americans, that it's time for us to leave Afghanistan. 1) WNPJ is chartering buses from Madison to Chicago leaving the morning of May 20th and returning the same day, 2) Voices for Creative Nonviolence is organizing a Peace Walk from Madison to Chicago, leaving Madison on May 2nd and arriving in Chicago in time for the May 20th protest 3) Brake the Banks! Cycles of Revolution is planning a "mobile village" of bike riders, leaving Madison on Sunday, May 13th and also arriving in Chicago in time for the May 20th protest.
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice is sponsoring a bus from Madison to Chicago on Sunday, May 20th for the Noon rally at Grant Park, then march to McCormick Place. This is a legal, permitted, family-friendly march and rally - please join us!
The bus will pick up passengers at the UW-Memorial Union at 8:30am and Dutch Mill Park and Ride at 9:00 am and at Palmer Park, 2400 Palmer Drive, in Janesville at 10:00am, arriving at Grant Park in Chicago at noon, and returning to Madison by 8pm.
Bring Our War $ Home (BOW$H) is a national campaign aimed at winning city council, school board and county board resolutions in favor of ending the vast waste of our nation's human and financial resources on war and redirecting those resources to urgent unmet needs here at home. The campaign has succeeded in passing resolutions from coast to coast, from Charlottesville, Virginia to Seattle, Washington and from Hartford, Connecticut to Los Angeles, California. The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice "Resolution Grid" allows you to quickly compare these resolutions side-by-side, to build the resolution best suited to your community. Click here to view the grid.