The COVID-19 pandemic, which is destroying lives and livelihoods as it advances, confirms that our country, indeed the entire world, can no longer afford war. At this time, Brooklyn For Peace reaffirms our core mission: the elimination of war, and the social injustices which are its causes and its results. The present crisis underscores in the most dramatic possible way the wastefulness of the preparations for war and the inherent cruelty of war. It is a national disgrace that while the United States has tens of thousands of weapons of every description it lacks the personnel, equipment, and facilities to properly treat its people who are dying needlessly, both in hospitals and at home.
On Monday March 23, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement urging warring parties across the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against COVID-19: the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind. Brooklyn For Peace applauds this statement! It is our fervent hope that we will seize this the opportunity to join with others in building strong and broad coalitions to demand a redirection of our country’s resources to meet human needs.
With this in mind, Brooklyn For Peace calls for:
1. The United States government to move resources from the military budget to the humanitarian and medical needs which are now paramount.
2. The United States government to prioritize the health of all people. Universal health care is more critically important now than ever. Even one person who is afraid to go for testing or treatment because they can’t pay the bill, or because they are undocumented or worried about their immigration status, is one too many, and imperils the health and lives of us all.
3. A vast expansion of the social safety net, which is urgently needed to implement “social distancing,” a critically important policy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In particular, attention must be paid to the needs of houseless individuals and families, and those who are incarcerated and institutionalized.
4. Local governments and municipal authorities, particularly in Brooklyn, to provide targeted and ongoing support to vulnerable populations, among them Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples, LGBTQI identified folx, and low-income individuals.
5. Support of the legion of workers of all kinds as well as the healthcare professionals who are maintaining our country while putting their own lives at risk.
6. The elimination of sanctions, illegal under international law, which have been used as a tool of U.S. foreign policy. Sanctions have served to weaken the health systems of many countries, so that suffering and deaths from COVID-19 particularly in Iran, Yemen, and Gaza, are far exceeding what they otherwise might have been.
7. Launch and support international efforts to find safe homes/shelter for the millions of internally displaced peoples and migrants in overcrowded detention camps around the world to prevent uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.
8.. Support and strengthen the United Nations and its institutions as a vehicle for humankind to meet the challenge of COVID-19 and the threat of other emerging diseases in the future.
It is long past time for the United States to see itself as part of a global network of nations and a common humanity. It is our collective responsibility as Brooklynites, as Americans, and more importantly, as world citizens, to do what we can to ensure that we and our neighbors closest to home receive essential services, as well as to take actions that help ensure that we are a part of the solution for ending this pandemic.
March 30, 2020