The U.S. maintains hundreds of military bases on foreign soil, as well as aircraft carrier “Strike Forces”. The Okinawa Prefecture is home to more than 70% of the U.S. bases in Japan. Opposition to the U.S. presence started in 1995 after the rape of a schoolgirl by three soldiers. Plane and helicopter crashes starting in 1959 continue to this day and the Okinawans want an end to the bases.
On Saturday, January 5, 2019 the Granny Peace Brigade joined Vets for Peace and Catholic Workers to set up a temporary base in Grand Central. Our signs tell it all – Stop the US Base in Okinawa. We were there to support Hideko Otake and the coalition “Stand with Okinawa” to stop the landfill of Henoko Bay.
Okinawans are protesting the U.S. Marine Corps plan to build an airbase in the bay — a gorgeous pristine blue body of water, home to an endangered sea mammal, the Dugong. A petition was started December 8th to halt the work until a referendum is held in Okinawa to determine the fate of the proposed base. The petition, started on December 8th, had over 180,000 signatures, and is directed to President Trump to halt the construction.
Location: The United States Mission to the United Nations, First Avenue, NYC.
Introduction: This is the fifth day of a fast and series of demonstrations beginning in York City on December 29, 2018 and closing in Washington, D.C. on January 12.
The Call: Institute sustained measures to cease all hostilities in Yemen, end weapon sales to any of the warring parties, protect supply lines, facilitate aid operations, stabilize the Yemeni economy and avoid famine.
The demonstrators gathered at the US Mission, peacefully blocking the doors. Almost immediately the police broadcast a prerecorded arrest warning. One officer very obviously took surveillance videos. The recording sounded a bit like Steven Hawking’s voice machine or like George Orwell’s Big Brother. It sounded like it was designed to intimidate. And since the NYPD is capable of surreptitiously taking photos and videos, our best guess is the police officer with the little camera was sending us a message first, and collecting information second.
On Parent-Teacher Conference night parents have the opportunity to meet with their child’s teacher to discuss her his progress in the class. It is also an opportunity for volunteers to distribute educational informational flyers to parents. The informational flyers address Options for Life After HS as well as Questions to Ask Military Recruiters. In spite of the cold & wind that evening, volunteers were at 12 high schools throughout the 5 boroughs and distributed approximately 2,400 flyers.
Parents appreciated the information provided on each flyer. A thank you, a nod of acceptance, or question might be asked to the volunteers.
A volunteer reports that several parents said ‘awesome’ when told what information the flyer was offering & the value of the information.
Another volunteer noted that parents appeared glad to receive the information even those whose child was wearing JROTC uniform.
One team notes that it was simply a great night for us – freezing cold and grateful kids.
To learn more about the action and to download the flyers go to our Counter Recruitment page. Scroll down to P-T night info and you can print a copy of the flyers. We will be back at the high schools in April for Spring Parent-Teacher Conference night, and hope you will join us then.
Members of the Granny Peace Brigade participated in the weekly vigil for peace in Yemen, in Union Square on Saturday, November 24th. The weekly vigil was initiated by the Catholic Worker one and a half years ago. Several members of other peace organizations take part in this endeavor.
In spite of the fact that the U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday, the 21st of November, to advance a resolution demanding an end to U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s coalition war on Yemen, pressure is needed to bring a bill to fruition. The killing and starvation of the Yemeni people is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Please contact your elected officials to demand that U.S. withdraw its support for this war. Join the weekly vigil and assist in getting the word out about this horrendous war and U.S. participation in it.
Weekly Vigil for Peace in Yemen 14th Street and Broadway, NYC Saturdays, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
– Phyllis Cunningham for the Granny Peace Brigade Photos: Bud Korotzer
On March 22, 2015 Saudi Arabia launched a war against Yemen, a country now considered “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” according to the United Nations. Millions of people face starvation caused by Saudi blockades of port cities; cholera outbreaks from Saudi bombing of hospitals, water and sanitation systems; a rampant wave of destruction waged against the Yemeni people – all made possible by U.S. military support for the Saudis by providing weapons, mid-air refueling planes, and target logistics. Now in its 4th year the war rages on amid a political and criminal thicket of deception, cynicism and hypocrisy.
Kathy Kelly from Voices of Creative Nonviolence called for three days of protests at the United Nations and the U.S. and Saudi Missions, as well as the Saudi Consulate. The Granny Peace Brigade joined Catholic Workers, Veterans for Peace, War Resisters League, Peace Action, Code Pink, Know Drones, Grafton Peace Pagoda and others.
Photos by Bud Korotzer
On the third day, Thursday, November 8th our group of 60-70 gathered at the Isaiah Wall on First Avenue and 43rd Street (“…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”). The solemn single file procession was led by anti-nuclear activist Jun-san Yasuda and Ayumi Temlock. Following were activists portraying Grieving Mothers holding children’s bodies, signs explaining to onlookers what we were commemorating. Nick Mottern’s mock drone accompanied us along First Avenue, past the U.S. Mission where two persons blocked the entrance, and on to 47th Street and Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, ending at Second Avenue, at the Saudi Consulate. There 25+ persons with blue backpacks for the dead school children risked arrest by blocking the entrances in an act of civil disobedience. The names were recited of the 44 Yemeni children killed in their school bus August 9th. The action ended with the NYPD informing everyone they would not be arrested, nor were the protesters at the U.S. mission. The horror of this religious-civil-tribal-resource war is such that no country wishes to draw attention to its role in it.
March 8 was Parent-Teacher Conference night at NYC high schools when parents meet with their children’s teachers. Volunteers from the Granny Peace Brigade and anti-military friends were outside high schools to greet parents and hand them two flyers. This action is part of the Granny Peace Brigade’s demilitarization of youth in public high schools campaign.
Our flyers provide information about non-military options for life after HS and also suggest questions to ask recruiters who are promoting enlistment. It’s our mission to provide information and resources to counter the military recruitment hype.
Options for Life after High School gives families a helping hand to survey many websites and resources for job skills training, scholarships, financial aid, community outreach, volunteer programs. Download: Non-Military Options for Life After High School
Questions to Ask – Points to Consider providing information on military recruitment practices and promises and offers questions to ask and responses to expect in order to inform families and the student of misleading or unclear information. Download: Questions to Ask – Points to Consider Before Enlisting
Parents are friendly and thank us for this information. As a volunteer notes: This is an important one-on-one interaction, and very possibly gives a would-be recruit pause to consider alternatives to the military. School staff members are interested as well. At several schools, a teacher or guidance counselor took several copies of the flyers to share inside the school.
This action shows how many parents want to end war and provide better educational opportunities for their children.
Parent/teacher conference night occurs twice a year. If you are interested in volunteering for our next action, please contact us.
Students not Soldiers! Barbara Harris for the Granny Peace Brigade
Is it good for to children dress up like soldiers and march around with mock rifles? Should they be doing this in our schools?
We say no, but some say yes.
Wednesday, January 31 – Seven of us were outside New York City Council offices asking Council Members to stop allotting 1.5 million of our tax dollars each year to the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) programs in NYC schools. We want City Council to move the money to programs that help students develop into strong, creative, resourceful adults.
Two career military men stopped to talk. The first thanked us for being there saying we were doing a good thing. The second military man who had worked as a recruiter and also with JROTC was angry. He said the JROTC program was good for kids because it gave them discipline. He talked about discipline a lot. We’ve heard that defense of JROTC from many other people who are passionate and sincere.
Call Sen. Schumer
Washington (202) 224-6542,
NYC (212) 486-4430,
Syracuse (315) 423-5471
It’s often hard to get through to Washington offices, but Syracuse staffers will take messages and send them to Washington offices.
Blocking the entrance to the US Mission to the UN, 15 peace activists from the Catholic Worker Movement, Granny Peace Brigade, Raging Grannies, among others, called for ending the blockade of Yemen, together with ending the intensive bombing of homes, water and sanitation infrastructure being assisted by the USA, and resulting in a million cases of cholera (reported as the largest outbreak in a country in recent times) and millions of cases of severe and acute child malnutrition, an estimate of 7 million facing starvation, new outbreaks of dengue and diphtheria, and thousands dead and tens of thousands injured.. With more than 50% of hospitals destroyed, many health workers unable to work due to the bombings or fleeing the violence, shortages of all foods and depleted medical supplies due to the blockade, limit help reaching the most at risk. Yemen is now facing the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.
A Rally of at Ralph Bunche Park started the day’s events, with several speakers including David McReynolds, two times a presidential candidate, Carmen Trotta, Catholic Worker Movement, Kate Alexander, Peace Action, and Isaac Evans-Franz who also read a moving statement on the situation of children and women by a leading American-Yemeni activist, each presenting insights into the conflict. The US is not alone in arming and aiding the Saudi-led bombings: Canada, France, England, Germany among others are culpable in the destruction of Yemen, which has been and continues to be the poorest country in the Region. Politically, the civil war is very complex, and many feel there will not be a military solution. Efforts are underway by peace groups to urge our Congress to take action to end the US complicity in the war, which started in 2015 by President Obama, but now is intensified by Donald Trump. While Trump has asked the Saudis to end the blockade to enable humanitarian action, the US has not taken a stance to end the bombing. Of course not, as we have sold billions of $$$ worth of bombs and advanced weaponry to the Saudis and, recently, reported sold cluster bombs, deemed illegal under a UN treaty.
Two groups of protestors formed, one marching to the US UN Mission, with a group wearing vests with the photo of an infant/child from Yemen, immediately blocking the entrance. A crowd of about 50 supported their action! A second group proceeded to the Saudi Arabia UN Mission.
At the US Mission, the group was left unhindered for almost an hour, but then the police moved in, normal warning to leave or be arrested given, and then proceeded with the arrests. Alice, (Raging Granny/GPB) said one officer was a bit nasty commenting that they were wasting police time on a day when NYC faced its first suicide bomber attempt.
Alice responded, that as grandmothers, we are concerned about children dying here, Yemen, anywhere. Later, she mentioned other police at the jail were more supportive specifically saying they have the right to stand for what they believe. Bev and Joan also felt the police were generally polite.
Joan though had a problem. In the jail, she was asked to remove her shoelaces. Then the cop noticed the string around her trousers. He asked her to remove it, but Joan said she had nothing underneath! He relented to allow her to keep her pants up!
At the Saudi Arabia Mission, a smaller group gathered. There was no indication that the Mission was there….in the Institute of International Education (II E) office building. So a protestor held a sign indicating the site was also the Saudi Mission. There were more police than demonstrators! We peacefully blocked the main doors, but a side door remained open. Just before the arrests at the US Mission began, all but two remained. At that time, with only two of us (Florino-peace action and I) there, security said we were blocking the door.! We thought they were going to arrest us! To our surprise, not today. As people entered and left, I called out: “end the blockade; stop bombing Yemen.” A man came out, looking particularly distinguished, walking towards a black diplomatic car, with someone who looked like a bodyguard. So I shouted my mantra! The gentleman turned his head to see where it was coming from. He didn’t look happy. Was he the Ambassador? Senior person in the Mission? Don’t know. But think they got our message.
What was achieved? The crowd today was limited as much of the city was closed due to a bombing attempt. Media coverage limited to bloggers and some international news agencies, as NY media was across town. But still our presence was registered. And we will be back! Until the dying/killing in Yemen ends.
We thank the organizers of the day’s events: Felton Davis, Carmen Trotta, and their colleagues from Catholic Worker; Isaac Evans-Franz, Action Corps NYC, among others. It is noted that other demonstrations were also underway this day in LA and Washington, DC by CodePink.
Join the weekly vigils every Saturday 11-1pm currently at the CUBE at Astor Place.
We urge calls and letters/emails to our Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and to our House members: Let Yemen Live!
– Marty Rajandran with Eva-Lee, Joan, Bev, Barbara H, Barbara W, Nydia, Alice