Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Chattanooga Peace Rally - 3-19-2005

Peace rally held in Chattanooga – Saturday, March 19, 2005

In the face of a near blackout of the peace rallies here in the good old USA, the word seems to be getting out despite the efforts of our mainstream press.

Chattanooga was the site of one such action on Saturday, March 19, 2005. Contrary to the forecasted predictions, it did not rain on their parade.

Actually, it was a march and a rally that was attended by a total of around 200 people according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

There were also three counterdemonstrators - not exactly a madding crowd for Bushie’s war machine.

Organizers were pleased to note increased public interest compared with a similar 2004 rally in which 129 people participated.

Sponsored by United for Democracy and Justice, the event offered a variety of speakers covering a wide range of topics centered on peace issues from Vietnam War veterans to a Palestinian small business owner who grew up in Iraq and now makes his home in the Chattanooga area.

United for Democracy and Justice member, Ariana Tipper, speaks with conviction and enthusiasm to the need for action on the part of the people of this country and the globe.

“We need to make public our core values and use those values as tools to help prepare for the future,” says Ariana whose passion is evident in every word.

“It is time for all of us who share progressive goals to come together and create a world in which peace and justice are more important than profits,” says the young peaceworker who is in training on The Farm in Summertown learning permaculture. Her sincerity is evident in every word she speaks.

Ariana is also active in the Women in Black, a group that uses public silent vigil as a way to protest war, rape as a tool of war, ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses. They are a loosely organized international group. Knoxville has an active vigil.

The loose organization of WIB seems to be the order of the day. Many of the most effective newer action-oriented groups have little or no structure. They seem to value action over detailed structure. Our movement needs all types of organizations to move our values front and center so that we can renew hope for movement away from the neo-fascist state our nation is fast becoming.

So, back to the Chattanooga protest last Saturday…
On the speaker's roster were Denny Haldeman, seasoned Vietname era activist; Hippie Rick, poet and peace activist; John Bailes, essayist and feature writer/columnist for the Chattanooga Times Free Press who spoke on “Weapons of Mass Deception.”
Other speakers included Dr. Fritz Efaw, renowned draft resistor from the Vietnam era, and Mr. Mohammad Al-Tmimi, the previously mentioned businessman, who was born in Palestine, grew up in Iraq, and came to the United States to study engineering in the 1980s.

Food Not Bombs supplied the crowd with munchies, and two bands, John Lathim and The Buskers, offered their talents for the crowd’s listening pleasure.

All told, the event lasted around 3 ½ hours and was without incident.