Saturday, March 29, 2003


There was an anti-war demonstration in my town yesterday. I had a perfect view from my second floor office window. There were at least 400 people and fully half of them took over the major intersection downtown. Some of them lay down on the pavement in a *die-in* and the rest formed a circle to protect them from the oncoming law enforcement. In the end 42 police officers arrived to arrest about 30 people, including two elderly women in wheelchairs. The remaining protesters chanted from the four street corners.

"Tell me what democracy looks like" rises from one corner to the beat of the Revolutionary Drum Corps.

"This is what democracy looks like" thunders back from the other three.

The crowd was deliciously mixed. The American Friends crowd has been demonstrating on that corner every Saturday since the US imposed sanctions on Iraq so many years ago. The college kids were also to be expected but the number of high school and even middle school kids was more suprising. The crowd swelled however with those who would not usually be there. Families with young children and old activists from the 60s who have, over the years, become respected business owners downtown. The latter poured out of the adjoining establishments, along with their employees, to reinforce the numbers. I met my own boss on the corner. He gave me a NO WAR pin someone had just handed to him.

We all stood there shivering in an increasingly chill wind for another 20 minutes in this moment of spontaneous consensus. Those who had not planned to be there stood mostly silent, looking as bemused as I felt, pondering our own role if this is indeed what democracy looks like, now.

For myself, I found it heartening to see the positive energy of the crowd and the planning of the organizers. It was a non-violent action in the name of peace. There was no vandalism and the only blood was of the fake sort that the *dead* had painted on their tshirts. I was not the only one in the 60s contingent who remarked on how the scene evoked memories of our own demonstrations.

However, as my photographer friend remarked, "It's the cool thing to do right now". He's been covering a lot of the protests and notes they are growing. The question in my mind is whether that energy will translate to the ballot box. It's clear they are willing to march, but are they willing to vote? Will they take the time to get politically involved outside of what one has to admit is at least partly a fun social event? I hope so because there are a lot more wars going on right now than just Iraq.

Which brings me to homeland insecurity. I don't feel that safe these days myself. There are too many wars being waged in the name of the US right now. The active conflict aside, we have the war on terrorism that doesn't appear to be over yet and although you see virtually no press on the subject, we aren't quite done in Afghanistan either. Last I heard the women are back under the burka, the countryside is in cinders with local warlords ramgaging through the ashes and opium production is at an all time high.
Meanwhile TIA and the Patriot Act are dismantling our civil liberites in the name of homeland security.

Then there's the War on Drugs being waged against our own citizens and indigenous people in drug producing countries. Our country imprisons more people for non-violent drug offenses than all the countries of Europe do altogether. We conduct our eradication programs, not on processing labs and high level dealers but against poor farmers trying to scratch a living out of earth that has been rendered practically useless by herbicide bombings. The US provides military aid that is used to violently suppress any dissent by these people who have belonged to this land for long generations.

I have much more to say on this subject but today I leave you with this. The War on Drugs is still ongoing and there are brave warriors in this fight as well. Marco Cappato, the European Minister of Parliment for Italy's Radical Party and member of the Anti-Prohibitionist League will be presenting this appeal to the UN when they convene in Vienna in April. They will be taking up the issue of international anti-drug conventions reform. It takes about a minute to read the appeal and add your name to the list.

There is an embarrassing lack of names from the USA. If you are a marijuana consumer or social activist, this will be an important and underreported moment. Please visit the site at the link and pass it on. This is something to do today, right now, to help stop the harm inflicted by this war.

This is an opportunity to raise our voices in unison against the War on Drugs.

peace unites,

LA Stone


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