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United For Peace And Justice 3rd National Assembly
From June 22-24, more than 300 people from 35 states gathered outside Chicago for the third National Assembly of the countrys largest grassroots antiwar coalition, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). Delegates representing nearly 200 UFPJ member groupsranging from national organizations like Veterans For Peace and U.S. Labor Against the War to local groups like the Greater New Haven Peace Council and the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justicemet to discuss strategies, priorities, and initiatives for the next 18 months.
The UFPJ National Assembly was energizing and inspiring for those who attended. Connecting to other activists, having the opportunity to think collectively about both the challenges and the opportunities ahead, developing concrete projects to work on together, and knowing we are all part of a movement motivated by the urgency of the moment and the long-term vision of a world grounded in peace and justice all fed the energy of the weekend.
Participants got to work as soon as they arrived, taking part in numerous workshops to discuss issues ranging from impeachment to the threat of an attack on Iran. Skills-sharing sessions covered engaging the media, approaching elections from a nonpartisan, grassroots standpoint, and more.
The question that rose again and again was, How do we move the 70 percent majority now opposing the war and occupation of Iraq to effective action? As Tom Hayden remarked, with tongue in cheek, in his address on the first night of the assembly, Its not easy for people who are committed to being marginalized if necessary to suddenly find themselves in the majority. It creates an identity crisis. More seriously, he urged assembly delegates, while not being satisfied with how far the majority of the U.S. public has come, to find ways to relate to the majority moment we are now in.
With that in mind, the assembly voted to organize a short-term campaign grounded in local work, culminating in a massive national mobilization, to be held in six to eight regional centers, on Saturday, October 27. The goal of this strategy is to tap into the very broad sentiment against the war and to bring new people into the streets. But instead of asking everyone to go to Washington, the delegates decided it was time to offer mass mobilizations closer to home. It was also hoped that this initiative would strengthen UFPJ as a coalition, and the peace movement as a whole, by building up the grassroots organizing infrastructure across the country.
The assembly re-affirmed that the central focus of UFPJ is ending the war in Iraq and bringing all the troops home, now. Toward that end, there was agreement that UFPJs primary work will be a Campaign to End the War that includes:
- lobbying to end congressional support of the war
- counter-recruiting and support for military resisters, veterans, and military families
- exposing the economic costs of war and the military budget
- engaging in the 2008 electoral season to project a peace and justice agenda
- developing skills and organizing training for local groups
- challenging war profiteers
- creating a nationwide public education project
This program of work was adopted at the assembly. It aims toward three broad goals: (1) Take advantage of the new moment in the struggle to end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home by bringing more peopleand more people from the diverse communities of this nationwho are opposed to the war into public action to end it, while sustaining the involvement of those who are already active. Also, help more people see how the war and occupation in Iraq is linked to other key issues: possible military attacks on Iran, the war in Afghanistan, U.S. support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, oil and the climate crisis, nuclear weapons proliferation and dangers, the role of corporate war profiteers, torture, attacks on civil liberties and civil rights here at home, etc.
(2) Strengthen links between the antiwar movement and economic, immigrant rights, and social justice movements, particularly by highlighting the economic costs of the war and the need to fund social programs here at homesuch as the rebuilding of New Orleans.
(3) Build on the creative local and national organizing efforts of the antiwar movement during the 2004 and 2006 election seasons, as we engage the 2008 presidential and congressional elections. We must make sure our call to end the war in Iraq is clearly heard and that issues of war and peace more generally are paramount throughout the electoral cycle. UFPJ will not endorse or support specific candidates for any office or political parties, and we reaffirm our independence from any political party. Our goal will be to ensure that the sentiment for ending this war, and redirecting our nations priorities, is so pervasive and so visible that every candidate for every office will feel he/she must address and be accountable to an energized, mobilized, and active populace.
There was strong support for a campaign of decentralized actions and activities around the country, initiated by different UFPJ member groups and allies, beginning in August and running through the fall, while also making connections to several important and related issues:
- In response to General Petraeuss report on the escalation due in September, the Declaration of Peace campaign is calling for nonviolent actions at every congressional office in the country Sept. 14-21, demanding that Congress end funding for the war and occupation (www. declarationofpeace.org).
- The Iraq Moratorium begins on Friday, September 21, and continues on the successive third Fridays of every month. The campaign aims to move the 70 percent majority who oppose the war to take some action to end itwhether it be wearing a black armband, not buying gas, pressuring politicians or the media, etc.and to escalate both in numbers of participants and intensity of actions with each month. The range of suggested actions is broad in order to encourage both first-time and long-time activists to take part (www.iraq moratorium.org)
- The No War, No Warming intervention in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, October 23, when Congress is in session, will take over Capitol Hill via nonviolent direct action, while solidarity actions take place around the U.S. and internationally. No War, No Warming demands that our government take immediate action to bring our troops home and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels (www. nowarnowarming.org)
Susan Chenelle is a member of United for Peace and Justices national staff.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.