These are some more photos of our November 29, 2018 vigil to stop US support for the murderous Saudi led war against the people of Yemen. They were all taken by Alice Brody but came in too late to include in the original article about the vigil and our reasons for being there with the 34 backpacks. Thank you for the photos, Alice.
Despairing of getting House and Senate leadership to allow privileged status, under Authorization of Military Force rules to sponsored bills that would end US support for the Saudi led War in Yemen, The Iran Project of Women Against War decided to hold another public vigil.
We felt that broader Congressional attention might finally be focused on US support and weapons sales – after the blocking of a long sponsored House resolution by Paul Ryan, the horrific August 9th bombing of a school bus by a US made bomb, and the brutal October 2nd assassination of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, masterminded by Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Women Against War has been lobbying and vigiling for years to remove all US military support and weapons sales to the Saudi Emirati coalition as the rate of starvation and deaths from preventable diseases has grown to epic proportions. But this obvious violation of the rules of war by targeting a civilian vehicle provided a dramatic point to educate the public.
Voices for Creative Nonviolence had created the visuals for a moving and visceral vigil. We decided to work with their ideas and their materials while adding some of our own. Much appreciation to Fran Dempsey for contacting Kathy Kelly and obtaining the backpacks and placards that they had designed, along with those in Grannies for Peace who shared previous signs and banners about the blockades and bombings in Yemen.
One of our goals was to create our own media with the visual display and a leaflet to distribute to pedestrians:
Thanks to the excellent media outreach by Maureen Aumand we had some media coverage, including 5 excellent photos and a short description by Times Union photographer, John Carl D’Annibale. [Taken early in the vigil as people were still arriving.] At the peak of the vigil we counted 43 people]
You’ll also notice that each backpack has the name of one of the 9 to 11 year old students who died in the bombing. That work was done by some members of Fran’s family/community as part of the preparation. The 4 red, white and black signs taken together tell the story of the bombing and of the context of humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
To get a wider picture of the spirit and physical impact of the vigil here are photos taken by Mabel Leon. Given the most recent focus in the Senate on “punishing” MbS rather than on the suffering of the people of Yemen we may still have a longer struggle ahead of us than we would have wished. So stay tuned and keep on lobbying and being active!
After receiving the announcement of the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem as the last of a series of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, Marcia Hopple brought the idea of leafleting and vigiling for peace at that performance to the October meeting of WAW’s Iran Project. After a discussion it was decided to vigil and leaflet in the courtyard leading to the back doors of Proctor’s theatre. We obtained permission from both the Orchestra and Proctors to be there and be a voice for peace. Alexandra Lusak got permission for us to park in the lot of a nearby church so that we could leave the Proctors’ parking to the concert goers. Here are a few details from our outreach flyer to Capitol District peace groups:
Women Against War is planning a peace demonstration on Saturday November 10 to dovetail with a performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at Proctors Theater in Schenectady. It will also allow us to stand in spirit with Veterans for Peace and others who will be vigiling on Sunday, 11/11/18 in Washington DC
TIME: 6:15 – 7:30 PM. There will be two groups: arriving for the Pre-concert talk with David Alan Miller at 6:30 PM, and for the concert at 7:30 PM
LOCATION: Rear of Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady NY 12305 (near State and Jay Streets) We will be standing in the courtyard outside doors to Proctors from rear parking areas
OCCASION: Albany Symphony Orchestra performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem to commemorate the first Armistice Day 100 years ago, ending World War I (the war that was supposed to end all wars).
The concert is the culmination of several events commemorating the first Armistice Day 100 years ago http://www.albanysymphony.com/armisticecentennialevents/
ACTION: Handing out leaflets and displaying signs related to the theme End Endless War, as about 2,000 concert goers enter the theater.
We will provide signs. Please try to carpool and dress for standing outside for the demonstration. We will leaflet and hold our signs primarily at the rear of Proctors where most patrons arrive from the parking lots. The Symphony and Proctors welcome us to be present at this Armistice Centennial event. Proctors even offered to hand out coffee to the vigilers.
Parking available WAW has permission to park in the lot at the First United Methodist Church of Schenectady. They are at 603 State Street, about two blocks east of Proctors. The lot is behind the church. Another option is to park at Schenectady County library at 99 Clinton Street, at the corner of Liberty St., about three blocks from Proctors. Please avoid parking in the lots directly behind Proctors to leave room for concert patrons. A parking garage near Proctors is usually free during performances and is accessible from Broadway. Parking in the lots behind Proctors is not free.
As an update about our action: on a bitterly cold evening with a strong breeze 12 brave vigilers carried signs reading End Endless War and War Is Not The Answer and handed out about 500 leaflets with the theme Working for Peace through Music, Art, Poetry and Policy and ending with the phrase “Together we can make a Peaceful World.”
On an extremely windy evening 20 Grannies for Peace and their allies held a vigil to call for an end to endless war. We were there on the occasion of The International Day of Peace. A commemorative day that was established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution. As it says on their website: “Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”
We stood from a little before 5 PM to 6 PM. Because of the high winds we were unable to unfurl most of our banners. But we did hold the Women Against War banner. Wendy brought two peace flags of her own. Joan and Harry brought their peace flag. Pete also brought some sturdy plastic signs that he attached to poles at the spot where traffic came off the Northway heading to Central Avenue or Wolf Road.
A small committee of Grannies planned this vigil, including Joan, Doreen and Dot, with help from others on the usual tasks involving outreach. Our numbers were smaller than usual because several of us were out of town or had schedule conflicts. Nevertheless we still made a colorful and passionate group to which commuters responded with honks and peace signs.
Our outreach flyer shared our reasons for being there with these words, written by Maud:
End Endless War!
War is not the answer. Let’s declare war on war so that the outcome is peace upon peace.
Let’s work to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.
And now for the pictures, taken by Harry Thornhill:
There is also a short, 2 minute video taken by John Amidon.
After a great deal of logistical and administrative work by Priscilla Fairbank and others (including Kate Cavanaugh and Marcia Hopple) a second set of billboards with an antiwar message went up in Schenectady and Albany. To read more about the reasons for the billboards, the national context of their display, and the locations of both billboards that will be up for the whole month of September and perhaps a bit beyond that check out Priscilla’s blog article posted at the end of August on our blog, Waging Peace
What was especially nice about this billboard launch (on Erie Blvd a little past Monroe Street in Schenectady) was the planned participation of many members of Schenectady neighbors For Peace who moved their usual Friday Noon vigil to the location of the billboard and arrived with signs and lots of energy.
As photographer, Lori Van Buren headlined her photo in the TU Regional Section on September 9th “Peace Groups Team Up for Billboards” And speaking of media coverage, thanks go to media maven Maureen Aumand who reached out to attract two TV stations as well as the Times Union.
Here are two unpublished photos of the billboard and the late vigil gathering taken by Lori Van Buren of the Times Union.
When we gathered together around 11:30 am that morning there was a growing number of Women Against War joining the vigil to support the message and attract the attention of drivers on the busy boulevard. Jackie Donegan of Schenectady Neighbors for Peace had a large sign reading Honk for Peace, which elicited much honking and raised our spirits.
One more excellent piece of writing came out of the billboard launch in the form of a letter to the editor from WAW member and Steering Committee member, Kate Cavanaugh. She further explored Albert Einstein’s ideas about war, and created a bridge to the Grannies for Peace September 21st vigil to End Endless War.
Now we’ll let the pictures taken by Mabel Leon and Priscilla Fairbank speak for themselves:
This article was written by Priscilla Fairbank, the organized and energetic coordinator of the billboard launch. Photos by Priscilla and Mabel Leon.
Early in 2018, an email notice from World Beyond War.org caught our attention. On their website, World Beyond War describes itself as “a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace.” They had launched an anti-war billboard campaign and were encouraging organizations to raise the money to have billboards put up in their own communities. There were over 20 designs, each on their familiar sky blue background. WAW’s steering committee discussed and endorsed the idea. Several years ago, we had raised money for a couple of “No War on Iran” billboards that featured lovely photos of Iranian children. We felt those had made our message available to many who would not have heard it otherwise.
Although our original focus had been an April display to coincide with the IRS tax filing deadline when taxpayers are thinking more about where their tax dollars go, our calendar was busy with other WAW events so we settled on May.
WAW is eligible for a Public Service Announcement rate which allows us to pay for one billboard and get a second one at no extra charge. After looking at the many designs, we settled on “3% of U.S.military funding could end starvation on earth”. It seemed simple, direct, bold – something against which no one could disagree. It also seemed clear enough that drivers could read and comprehend while driving by.
Maud’s fundraising outreach was met with immediate success.
We contacted Lamar Advertising, owner of most of the area billboards, and asked for a list of available locations during May. At first the lists were somewhat confusing but, with a little study, provided us with a great deal of information: location including distance from cross street, number of weekly impressions, dimensions, direction faced, illuminated or not, current advertiser. We narrowed the list based on this information. Then several of us spent a couple of hours driving to view the sites. Our final choices were one on Route 5 near the Schenectady border, and the second on Route 2 just west of Watervliet.
We set our launch date for May 3rd at the Route 5 site. Maureen reached out to local press, providing a background press release and followup reminders. WOOC radio at the Sanctuary for Independent Media included a 15 minute interview with Priscilla about how the billboard project came about.
On Thursday, May 3rd, about 20 members of WAW, and supporters, gathered to hold signs on both sides of the highway, bringing attention to the billboard that commuters would see for the next month. Photos were carried in The Daily Gazette and Times Union, letters to the editor about the billboard message appeared in the TU, written by Catherine Cavanaugh and Pete Looker, and Maud wrote a blog about the billboards on WAW’s Waging Peace.
Every day many people drive by the two billboards. Based on Lamar’s numbers, our two sites have 155,000 views per week. We believe our effort raises the awareness and hopefully a conversation about U.S. military spending, its immense size, and the many other things that are not being funded because of it. We hope this motivates people to contact their elected officials and urge them to vote for different choices. We are planning to fund another set of two billboards in September, before the midterm elections.
Why is the US involved in the deadly Saudi bombing of Yemeni civilians?
US military support of the Saudi attacks and blockades is another in a long list of deadly wars we should not be fighting. Unauthorized, and unconstitutional, this is one war we may be able to convince Congress to stop supporting. There have been over a million cases of Cholera and diphtheria is raging.
Yemen, an Arab republic in Western Asia that borders on Saudi Arabia, was already one of the world’s poorest countries before the Saudi attacks began three years ago. Although the U.S. provides humanitarian aid to Yemen we’re spending far more to destroy its infrastructure. Causing famine and disease. According to Save the Children, nearly 400,000 Yemeni children will need to be treated for life threatening acute malnutrition in the next year. Aid organizations are being blocked from this work by the Saudi closure of air, land and sea routes, and by frequent, massive bombing strikes. Right now 130 children die every day in Yemen from extreme hunger and disease–one child every 18 minutes.
Ask your Senators to give this humanitarian crisis their full attention and find ways to end our involvement and move Saudi Arabia toward diplomatic resolution of the murderous war in Yemen.
See senate contact information on reverse side. Thank you! www.WomenAgainstWar.org
END US ROLE IN DESTRUCTION OF YEMEN
In March 2018, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing about our military involvement in the Saudi led coalition that is bombing civilians, hospitals and clinics, schools, infrastructure, and hopes for the future in the impoverished country of Yemen. By late 2017 more than 13,500 lives had been lost.
Now Congress may finally be looking critically at U.S military involvement in the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. We provide refueling, weapons, and intelligence support to the ruthless war that Saudi Arabia is waging on the people of Yemen.
NOW IS THE TIME for us to tell our US Senators and Congress members: END US PARTICIPATION IN THE SAUDI ARABIA-LED COALITION that has reduced Yemen to a wasteland of famine, disease, rubble, and despair.
ACT NOW while the revelations of the horror and hopelessness we cause are hanging in the air in the US Senate.
US Senator Charles Schumer Albany (518) 431-4070 Washington, 202-224-6542
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Albany (518) 431-0120 Washington, 202-224-4451
Sometimes I imagine it’s a bit of a mystery what makes Women Against War projects happen. But in the case of our 6-months’ work on hosting AFSC’s powerful poster exhibit, Humanize, not Militarize, we can learn below how this project emerged and kept expanding, all the wonderful new community partners we made, and the terrific teamwork of the large number of WAW members involved. If you might like to be part of our next effort, please e-mail info@WomenAgainstWar.org, and we will let you know what’s next!
The report below was written by Anita Stanley who coordinated this project – with cheerful patience and marvelous organizational skills. Thank you from us all, Anita! You made it possible for us to bring to new audiences the powerful message of the exhibit: the interconnection between the US militarized foreign policy, our racist and increasingly militarized criminal justice system and our increasingly militarized borders – all sadly needing much thought and advocacy these days.
Humanize, not Militarize Exhibition Project:
Report by Anita Stanley
The idea to bring the Humanize, not Militarize project to the Capital District was first conceived by Maud Easter in January of 2016. She spotted it on the website of the American Friends Service Committee www.humanize.afsc.org and wrote to Mary Zerkel, the AFSC staff member in charge. At that time it was titled All of Us or None, but had just been changed to Humanize, not Militarize. Mary was delighted to work with Women Against War again, and the seed was planted.
Maud brought the idea to the Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Committee in February, and the group decided to move forward with it. Initially the plan was to display it in the summer of 2016, but planning for the election primaries became a priority, so it was pushed out to the fall. Mabel Leon began a thorough study of the posters, and made suggestions of how we could divide them up for different sites.
Finding Display Sites: The rest of the committee began exploring different venues for the display, and whether/what kinds of events we might want to accompany the exhibit. Since planning for the annual meeting was underway by then, the committee changed the target date to late winter or early spring of 2017. Connie LaPorta was asked to create a brochure to accompany the posters at each venue, which would contain a current schedule of the different display sites, information about AFSC, information about WAW, and a poem from the AFSC website about militarization. Mabel then drafted a letter to be sent to potential venues, and Mickie Lynn edited it for release. We divided up the list of possible sites to contact, and began the contacts. Even though Maureen Aumand wasn’t able to attend our committee meetings, she continued to contribute ideas for venues, and make contacts herself.
Progress! The Unitarian-Universalist Church in Albany was the first site to agree to host the exhibit, and plans began for an accompanying event, such as a speaker or movie. Maureen was making solid progress with Capital Repertory Theatre to schedule a showing during the run of An Iliad in March of 2017. Anita Stanley agreed to be the scheduler for the display, and post online the dates, information about each site, and the WAW members responsible for hanging and tabling.
Anita attended the meeting of the Social Responsibility Council at the UU Church, where they requested that we show Jon Stewart’s film “After Spring”,a movie about Syrian refugees, when the “Humanize” posters were up. They decided to have a church potluck on the evening when the film was shown, and asked that we plan a small panel to discuss the movie after the showing. Maureen agreed to facilitate the discussion. They also agreed to allow us to put out the WAW tabling materials on that night, and to host Dahlia Herring for a short presentation about the Capital District’s plans to address the influx of refugees to the region.
They also decided to make a donation toward the cost of the film and the exhibit, depending on how much money was taken in from donations on the night of the film. WAW and FUUSA would share publicity tasks for the local listserves and newsletters.
More sites: Maureen continued to explore new possibilities, and received a positive response from the UAlbany Performing Arts Department, to host the display during the run of REBEL/Sister in April. We were given permission to table at three of their themed “talk backs” after the performances. Alexandra Lusak from the Oakwood Community Center in Troy accepted our request to hang Humanize there. They decided to plan an opening reception for it, at one of their Monday night Soul Cafe dinners for the community.
Anita began to plan for put-up and take-down “crews” for each venue, as well as people to table on the nights designated. Mickie, Maud, and Hazel Landa teamed up to do all the publicity for the showings, as well as for the events associated with each venue. They included the WAW Facebook page, the website, the new Capital Region Progressive Calendar, newspapers and TV, the Friends Meeting newsletter, and e-mail postings of the various peace and justice-related listserves. Anita sent progress updates to Mary Zerkel at the American Friends Service Committee, and asked for frequent extensions to accommodate the growing list of sites.Humanize3poster
Maureen contacted Rex Smith at Albany Pro Musica, to explore the possibility of hanging the exhibit at EMPAC on the night of their performance of The Armed Man in May of 2017. The board of APM was encouraging local organizations to plan peace-related activities in the weeks leading up to the performance of this anti-war composition. The posters of Humanize fit perfectly with that effort, and WAW was glad to join in by tabling on the night of the concert. WAW was allowed to display three of the posters as well, and accepted the many donations that audience members offered. In addition, the exhibit was featured on a weekly television show called AHA!, broadcast on our local PBS station, WMHT. In order to illustrate the themes of The Armed Man”, the posters were woven in among the different segments of the program.
With the cost of shipping the exhibit, the fee to rent After Spring, and the charges for printing, ink, and Velcro strips for hanging, we realized that we needed an additional supply of money to cover our costs. Maud sent out a request for donors, and people responded with generosity. We also began to plan for refreshments for our reception on the night of the An Iliad performance, and a number of WAW members offered to help.
Maureen was busy making contact with the directors of Soldier’s Heart, an organization
addressing the mental health needs of returning veterans. She was planning an after-performance talkback, which included Dan Wilcox, our local anti-war poet, Dr.Ed Tick and Kate Dahlstedt, the founders of Soldier’s Heart, a participant in their program, and the actor and the cellist in An Iliad. She also arranged for a photographer from the Times-Union to come out and take pictures of the display, in preparation for a short article in the newspaper.
Viewers Made Posters:
We asked AFSC to include art materials with the poster shipment, which people could use to make their own posters, inspired by the exhibit. We also requested plastic sleeves in which to put information about each artist and their specific posters. At some sites this information was put in a notebook for persons to look through, and in others, the information was hung under the posters.
More Sites! The Upton Women’s Center at Russell Sage College was the next venue to accept our invitation, and Shealeen Meany, the director of the Center, planned a reception for their opening night. WAW arranged for Dr. Mussarat Chaudry, a local Muslim interfaith leader, to give two short presentations on women and Islam on the night of the reception. Many of the Sage students made posters, and took WAW flyers and our brochures about the exhibit.
Maureen also contacted Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace about hosting our Humanize display during their annual meeting. They agreed to exhibit the posters, and put on a staged reading of the anti-drone play Predator on that night as well. There were many instances of overlap between the runs of the posters at the different venues, and WAW allowed each venue to choose the works that they wanted. This splitting of the exhibit worked well, and whatever posters were not being used were stored in a WAW member’s home.
Project extended again! WAW members split up the list for thank-you notes to the different sites, and began to make plans for packing up the posters to send back. Soon afterward we were contacted by Aili Lopez of C.R.E.A.T.E., a new organization with art studios in Saratoga and Schenectady, with a mission of addressing mental health needs through the visual arts. They felt that Humanize would be a good fit for their participants. We agreed, and CREATE began to plan three workshops entitled Activism and the Art of Poster-Making. WAW members from Saratoga were asked to help with the exhibit, and attended the workshops as well.
Wrapping up: The Beyond Afghanistan/No Drones Committee of WAW pitched in for a pack-up party for mailing the exhibit back to AFSC. After this, the committee gave a mid-summer “thank-you” party for all the volunteers involved with the six-month project. Members agreed that Humanize had reached a wide variety of audiences, especially in the arts, that had not been aware of WAW and the issues we address before this. Our collaborations with local groups were successful, and served to strengthen our bonds with other organizations in the peace and justice community. We are appreciative of the donations given by individuals and organizations involved with the display. Members feel that our goals as an organization were well-represented by the issues raised by the Humanize posters, and that the people who came to see the display are likely to be much better informed now than they had been before.
Women Against War’s Annual Gathering
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 5:30 PM
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 510 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville
Bring Savory or Sweet Finger Food to Share & Suggested Donation $10-25
Easy Parking Wheelchair Accessible Silent Auction
To help us plan, please RSVP to Maud Easter firstname.lastname@example.org
Through good weather and bad, through every challenging time, Trudy is always there for all our Capital District peace and justice work!
Trudy is a mainstay of Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, managing BNP’s website, promoting all our events in BNP’s Weekly Peace Email and organizing BNP’s movies and forums series.
Trudy also created and hosts the Peace Now video interview series featuring peace and justice activists, shared over multiple public access TV stations.
Come learn from advocate, author & activist Phyllis Bennis:
Her latest book is: ISIS, Syria & the US in the Middle East
Phyllis is author of Understanding ISIS & the New Global War on Terror: A Primer. She is Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., a key resource for peace activists.
Phyllis speaks widely across the US and around the world as part of the global peace movement. She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on the Middle East and UN democratization issues. In 2001 she helped found and remains active with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She has recently joined the national board of Jewish Voice for Peace.
Phyllis has written and edited 11 books, including Before & After: US Foreign Policy and the War on Terror; Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict; and Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the UN Defy U.S. Power.
Women Against War Reminds Us to Exercise Our Rights
[This is an article written by Marcia Hopple, who organized and supported the “exercising our rights” demonstration through planning with participants, buying some of the workout outfits, supporting the whole event and reception at the Sanctuary for Independent media and much more.
She was ably co-assisted by Mabel Leon, who designed the headbands, signs, and other props and chose the chants. Kudos to the other participants who chose their messages, completed their workout fashions and created theatre.]
Women Against War members stood out in the crowd at a recent event with Medea Benjamin of CodePink, to welcome her and to show solidarity with her.
WAW is a local affiliate of the Washington DC women’s peace organization that she co-founded.
Eight members of WAW dressed in fitness clothes and wore pink sweatbands to make the point that we all need to exercise our right to vote, to boycott, to assemble, and to choose diplomacy over war, among many other rights.
Medea spoke about her latest book, and about the results of the presidential election, at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy. WAW has cosponsored a number of speakers and events at the Sanctuary over the decade-plus since it and WAW were started.
Medea and other CODEPINK activists are known for their ability to make media spectacles in settings from presidential press conferences to Israeli settlements, challenging hypocrisy and silence. Medea’s books and lectures question the legality and morality of US policies such as arms sales, torture, and drone warfare with its collateral civilian casualties. Her latest book is Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.–Saudi Connection.
Medea has won many peace awards and has traveled the globe working nonstop for peace. She is co-founder of the human rights group Global Exchange, and a former economist and nutritionist with the United Nations and World Health Organization.
When she was introduced by the Sanctuary, the WAW greeting party was on stage to chant “We are Women Against War, We are CodePink, and We are Exercising our Rights.” Each woman called out a right that is dear to us and then the group finished with “We Welcome Medea”.
Medea and many others, during the question and answer session after her talk, were deeply concerned about the election of Donald Trump as US President after his bigoted campaign rhetoric and ridiculous lack of qualification to lead and represent the country. The event helped to rally us to action to keep him accountable and continue our constant efforts to convince Congress to seek peace in the world.
As CodePink said immediately after the election, “We Rise in Love.” Women Against War’s banners hanging at the event also called for love and healing, through embracing refugees, ending racism, and choosing diplomacy.
A couple of pictures of the “working out crew” by Chris Auer:
Exercising our rights to: