National Peace Action: Daunte Wright didn’t have to die.

From Jon Rainwater, Peace Action Executive Director – April 13, 2021

Daunte Wright didn’t have to die. That’s what I keep thinking, and you may be thinking that, too. He shouldn’t have died. This young man should still be alive to watch his son, Daunte Jr., grow up. 

But Daunte did die, after another traffic stop spiraled into another police homicide. The common denominator in these tragedies is a nationwide culture of police militarism, fueled by implicit bias and outright racism. This culture leads to the disproportionate use of force just as Peace Action often sees in wars. Here, it is community members across the country who are “othered” as if they are “the enemy.” George Floyd lost his life just a few miles away from where Daunte was killed. Breonna Taylor lost hers in her own apartment in Louisville, Kentucky when mistaken identity escalated into a volley of gunfire. Oscar Grant was another Black man in his twenties shot by an officer claiming he mistook a gun for a taser, here in my home town of Oakland, California. Each one of these people did not need to die. So too, others, too many to name.  

As you know, this culture of militarism goes beyond these individual tragedies. Within hours of Daunte’s death, police were actively ordered to fire rubber bullets and launch “flash-bang” grenades at protesters. Chemical agents that the 1925 Geneva Protocol would forbid in war zones were used against Brooklyn Center’s grief stricken community members. Studies have repeatedly shown that this type of militaristic force at protests escalates tense situations and actually makes violence by both the police and protesters more likely.[1]

Can you write your member of Congress today and ask that they cosponsor bills to end the culture and practice of militarism in local policing? 

In Congress leaders like Reps. Nydia Velázquez (NY-7) and Hank Johnson (GA-4) are taking on police militarism. Rep. Johnson has been pushing for change for years and recently reintroduced his Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. Rep. Velázquez plans to introduce her Demilitarizing Local Law Enforcement Act of 2021 this week as well.

Obviously we need to rebuild how we keep U.S. communities safe – from the ground up. This problem is rooted in the legacy of, and present day reality of, racism and white supremacy. There will be no single, easy solution. We need activism locally, at the state level, and at the national level.  

Can you take action on one pillar of police militarization today and contact your Congress Member? 

Please write your member of Congress and ask them to end the programs that are sending surplus Pentagon weapons of war to local police departments. Research shows that these equipment transfers actually help to foster a culture of militarization that makes the type of excessive force that killed Daunte Wright more likely. 

The authors of one study summarized their findings in the Washington Post: “When a county goes from receiving no military equipment to $2,539,767 worth (the largest figure that went to one agency in our data), more than twice as many civilians are likely to die in that county the following year.”[2]

Please write Congress today and ask them to end these federal programs that fund and fuel police violence. 

Reimagining what real public safety looks like includes moving the money from militarized policing to instead invest in a smarter approach. That’s ultimately how we can move from a legacy based on racism to greater social justice. We need better funded public health programs to address crises like the COVID pandemic which is hitting communities of color the hardest. We need funding for housing, drug treatment, and mental health services so we aren’t asking police to deal with problems they are ill equipped to deal with. Creating a renewed approach to community safety will take a long-term, comprehensive approach. But one thing we can do right away is block military equipment paid for with our federal tax dollars from being funneled to police departments. That step immediately helps us move away from the culture of militarism driving the loss of life in too many communities. 

Please write your member of Congress today. 

For a more just and peaceful tomorrow for all, 

Jon Rainwater
Executive Director

P.S. If you wish to help support the family of Daunte Wright at this tragic time in their lives, you can help them out here.

[1] “Militarization has fostered a policing culture that sets up protesters as ‘the enemy’”’. Rice University, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, June 10 2020. “Police tear gas protesters despite proof it’s dangerous”, NBC News, June 11 2020.
[2]“Does military equipment lead police officers to be more violent? We did the research.”, Washington Post, June 30, 2017.

East Bay Peace Action Joins Call for Reduction to Military Budget

April 23, 2021

Today, East Bay Peace Action has signed on to the letter below to allies in Congress, asking them to send a letter to relevant committee chairs expressing opposition to the proposed $753 billion military budget.

To: Rep. John Yarmouth, Chair, House Budget Committee; Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Chair, House Appropriations Committee; Rep. Betty McCollum, Chair, House Defense Subcommittee; Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Chair, House Energy Subcommittee; Rep. Adam Smith, Chair, House Armed Services Committee; Senator Bernie Sanders, Chair, Senate Budget Committee; Senator Patrick Leahy, Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee; Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair, Senate Subcommittee on Energy; Senator Jack Reed, Chair, Senate Armed Services Committee; Senator John Tester, Chair, Senate Defense Subcommittee.

Dear Committee and Subcommittee Chairs:

As members of the United States Congress sent to Washington to provide oversight and serve our constituents, we stand united in our opposition to the proposed increased $753 billion military budget and urge you to reduce the military budget by at least 10% , exempting military pay and benefits, before the budget leaves your committee.

It is time to shift to a human-centered definition of security that prioritizes the urgent needs of those highlighted in the Poor People’s Campaign for a moral budget. The campaign points out that 87-million Americans lack adequate health care coverage, eleven million people are houseless, 35 million are food insecure and one in three Black and Latinx households are steeped in debt. .

We call for re-evaluating US priorities to reduce Pentagon and Department of Energy spending to instead invest in health care, education, housing, climate sustainability, racial justice and more. We call this the Peace Dividend: increased investment in public goods as the result of winding down US wars.

With President Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and his review of the necessity of 800 overseas bases in 80 countries, we expect and hope to spend less, not more on the military. We reject a proposed US pivot to Asia that increases troop deployments to the South China Sea, opens new military bases, and greenlights nuclear warships and mock nuclear strikes–all of which threaten to provoke another war, this one with a nuclear armed nation.

We stand united in opposition to spending billions of dollars in 2022, $1.7 trillion over the next decades, to develop new nuclear weapons that will escalate the arms race, increase the odds of a catastrophic accident and risk global annihilation.

Respectfully, we ask committee chairs preparing the military budget to remove expenditures for new nuclear weapons from the base bill or any document that merges with an overall budget bill, scrap the euphemistically titled “nuclear modernization” plan that fails to reflect modern thinking on the imperative of peace in the midst of a global climate crisis, budget to begin closing some overseas bases and re-evaluate billions of dollars for a US Space Force that will also escalate the arms race.

Again, we stand strongly united in our request that you reduce military spending for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget by a minimum of 10 percent before allocations are embedded in a final budget bill.

Sincerely,
Progressive Democrats of America
World BEYOND War
Greenpeace US
Rainforest Action Network
CODEPINK
Our Revolution
RootsAction.org
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
Veterans For Peace
World Beyond War-Central Florida
Rooms for PEACE
Seattle Anti-War Coalition
Massachusetts Peace Action
Women Against Military Madness
United We Dream Network
Peace, Justice,  Sustainability NOW
Nuclear Free World Committee
Dallas Peace and Justice Center
Peace Farm
War Resisters League
Witness for Peace Southwest
Green Party of Pima County
NH Veterans for Peace
Veterans For Peace Chapter 154
Veterans For Peace Chapter 181
Veterans For Peace – Santa Fe Chapter

National Peace Action Comments on Natanz Attack

Today, National Peace Action Executive Director, Jon Rainwater, commented on the problems raised by the Natanz Attack in Common Dreams:


https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/04/12/iran-says-israeli-nuclear-terrorism-could-have-led-catastrophic-crime-against

“If Israel is behind this while [Defense Secretary] Austin visits Israel this is shameless. Iran and the U.S. can’t let this derail diplomacy. Time to put in place a return to the JCPOA.”
—Jon Rainwater, Peace Action

Mass Poor People’s Assembly in June 2020

Poor Peoples Assembly June 2020

The fact that there are 140 million poor and low-wealth people in a country this rich is morally indefensible, constitutionally inconsistent and economically insane. Join poor people and moral witnesses from across the country June 20, 2020 for the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington! On June 20, 2020, we rise together!

RSVP here: bit.ly/MoralMarch2020 

Preserve the INF

preserve inf

Interested in preserving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and learning more about its history? Abolition 2000 is hosting a webinar Thursday January 17th. Learn more or sign up here

East Bay Peace Action Annual Gathering: Post Election Analysis – Advancing a People’s Agenda

 

Eric See, Director of Outreach and Organizing Campaigns - Peace Action
Eric See of national Peace Action discusses the post-midterm election at the 2018 Annual Gathering for EBPA

The 2018 Annual Gathering of East Bay Peace Action featured a talk by Eric See, Director of Outreach and Organizing Campaign for national Peace Action. See described 2018 Midterm Election activities for the national organization and the endorsement process. With an unprecedented number of people running for office, Peace Action activity intensified. National Peace Action endorsed 8 of the newly-elected members of the U. S. House of Representatives.

See also spoke about activities to end U. S. support for the war in Yemen and the state of diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula. Additionally, See discussed the need to create a peace movement that connects peace with human needs and climate chaos.

A full transcript of the talk is available here. 2018 Annual Gathering Program Transcript.E_See_transcript_final

Guest Opinion: Countdown to Doomsday

The following guest opinion was written by Michelle Cunha, assistant director of Massachusetts Peace Action for digboston.com

Addressing the US’s complicitness in maintaining the nuclear status quo

In the sweltering heat of the Japanese summer, I toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Set nearly on top of the epicenter where an atomic bomb was detonated on Aug 6, 1945, I saw statutes of women trying to protect children from the bomb’s devastation, a burial mound with the ashes of at least ten thousand bodies, and monuments to workers whose lives were lost on that shameful day. At the Nagasaki Peace Park I viewed images of infants, teens, and adults burned beyond recognition, lying in the streets.

The next nine days I spent in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki listening to the voices of nuclear abolitionists from around the globe. I met Hibakusha, survivors of the nuclear attack, and listened to their stories of losing their loved ones and community in a moment. They spoke of the deep unabating grief they felt in the days, months, and decades since. Their words made me verklempt when they described the shame of being a survivor, of how many were unable to marry, find jobs, or live any sort of normal life. They spoke about how many Hibakusha chose to live in silence, never speaking of the day, instead choosing to suffer in silence. They spoke of being instantly alone in middle age having lost their parents, spouses, children, and livelihoods.

As I listened to the speeches at the 2018 World Conference against A and H Bombs, two men kept coming to my mind: Congressman Seth Moulton and State Rep. Kenneth Gordon. Why were these two men on my mind as I looked the legacy of the use of nuclear weapons? Both represent Bedford; Moulton believes nuclear deterrence is a viable doctrine and Gordon believes our attention is better spent on elections in other states as a way to change the discourse on nuclear weapons.

The Doctrine of Deterrence is based on the idea that if a nation possesses nuclear weapons it will not be attacked thus it is protected from any foreign aggressors.

Nations do not like unjust imbalances. If one nation has a nuclear weapon then its chief rival must have two. That skewed thinking leads to an arms race in which the two nations must one-up each other. Other nations wanting to be perceived as powerful join in the arms race as they too start to conceptualize and build their own nuclear arsenal.

Rachel Melly said “Of course our government always claims that they [nuclear weapons] are necessary for our security, that they will never be used, and they are designed to deter attack from hostile powers. But increasingly our politicians are required to say that they would press the button, so there is calculated uncertainty about whether it should be used or not.”

Moulton has declined to sign onto Sen. Ed Markey’s bill, co-authored by Congressman Ted Lieu of California (D-Calif.), which is designed to limit presidential first use of nuclear weapons by requiring Congressional approval before launching. A similar resolution is in the Massachusetts State House, authored by State Sen. Barbara L’Italien. Ken Gordon has procrastinated signing the resolution saying via email on July 12, 2018: “While I do support this initiative and will do what I can to help with this Senate resolution, I really think our time is best spent assisting the campaigns of those Senators in contested races in other states, because the real solution to all of this will only start when people who share our values take back the House and Senate, slowing down the current threat, and then work toward a more rational Administration.”

At a town hall in Newburyport on May 20, 2017, I asked Moulton why he has not signed onto the No First Strike bill. The Congressman mansplained that deterrence is a viable option and US treaty obligations to East Asian allies require the US to maintain a nuclear arsenal. Video of the exchange can be found on Massachusetts Peace Action’s website.

The United States is the only country in the world who has used nuclear bombs, not once but twice. An estimated 60,000-80,000 people were killed instantly in Hiroshima and another 75,000 were lost in Nagasaki. Added together, a rough total of 145,000 people were killed instantly. If you add the populations of Bedford, Lexington, Lincoln, Concord, Carlisle, Billerica, and Burlington together, total population is approximately 147,000. Imagine every single man, woman, child in those communities being lost in less than 5 seconds. Image the first responders from surrounding communities attempting to respond to such a completely preventable catastrophe: the blocked roads, the widespread fires, the cancers and radiation diseases police, fire, and EMS would contract. Imagine Emerson and Lahey Hospitals—if they were not instantly destroyed—trying to treat any survivors who are able to make it to their campuses.

The lucky ones in Hiroshima and Nagasaki died instantly. Radiation poisoning killed thousands more in the weeks following the attacks. Still, to this day, thousands of Hibakusha suffer the consequences with cancers throughout their bodies and other radiation diseases. The illnesses do not end with them. Second-generation Hibakusha are also afflicted with radiation diseases all because the United States believed dropping nuclear bombs on human beings—military and civilians alike—was an acceptable war tactic even at a time when the Japanese were attempting to surrender on the terms accepted after the A-bombings.

If I were to point a gun at someone but not to pull the trigger, I would be arrested for assault because to threaten to use a gun is as much a crime as to actually use it. Nuclear weapons are really big guns with the capability of destroying entire communities like Bedford.

During the last phase of his presidency, President Obama initiated a $1 trillion nuclear upgrade and 2018 Congress has bumped that number up to about $1.7 trillion. Hanscom AFB, in Moulton’s and Gordon’s districts, will see millions of those dollars to upgrade the Nuclear Command and Control Communications. In the last few weeks the NDAA was passed, which included funding for “low yield” nuclear bombs. These low yield bombs have more destructive capabilities than the two dropped on Japan. Earlier this year the Doomsday Clock was moved to 2 minutes to midnight after Trump’s NPT was released. It was the first time since 1953 that the hands have been so close to nuclear annihilation.

And yet, Moulton and Gordon believe the threat of instant and indiscriminate death brought on by a bright flash of light and a searing heat so hot eyeballs melt is necessary for US security. They believe burdening humans with life-threatening cancers that will affect millions for generations is in the US’ best interest.

It is time to put a stop to outmoded and antiquated thinking. It is time for total nuclear disarmament by all nine of the nuclear states. It is time for the United States to sign onto the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to eliminate every single one of its 4,000+ nuclear weapons.