The FY 2013 Defense Appropriations bill (HR 5856), which includes $519 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget and $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan, passed in the House of Representatives on July 19 with 90 opposing votes. (326 in favor, 90 opposed, 15 not voting.)
Four Brooklyn Congressional Representatives (Clarke, Nadler, Towns, and Velazquez) were among those voting NO. The same 4 also voted in favor of the amendment introduced by Barbara Lee, which would have required the safe and responsible withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan. If Clarke, Nadler, Towns, or Velazquez represents you, please call to thank them for their vote. Your call is imporant: we can’t take our elected officials for granted! Continue reading →
Downstate Workers Say NO To Layoffs
Aug 7, 2012
Hundreds of Downstate University Hospital workers and their supporters from communities around Brooklyn filled the streets in front of the hospital today. They were rallying to give a big and loud “no” to Governor Cuomo’s plan for layoffs there. The Governor has been crying poverty for state finances while, at the same time, steadfastly refusing to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers. People opposing the layoffs and cutbacks point out that a fair taxation program would go a long way to alleviate the budget crisis and would be much more equitable solution. Continue reading →
8th Annual 2012 Peace Fair
A brief summary of the Peace and Economic Justice Committee Workshop for the day.
Combating the Crisis in our Communities- a People’s Speakout
This workshop is not intended to be a formal panel, but an open-ended facilitated conversation in which people, who are involved with cuts in public services share their experience,including the kinds of fight-back efforts in which they are engaged. Our most important goal is to try to figure out how people involved in the peace movement and people involved in social justice struggles can help each other to be more effective? It is widely recognized that our concerns are all somehow linked. But what steps can we realistically take to build cooperation across a range of issues? Can we organize a “move the money” effort here in Brooklyn that would be useful?
Of course by now you know what war drones are, right? In case you don’t , they are a whole new area of hi-tech weaponry that is being promoted by the Pentagon and the industry that manufactures them (aka the Military Industrial Complex) — War Drones are pilotless aircraft, controlled via satellite from thousands of miles away. They are equipped with so-called smart bombs, hi-definition video and radar. They can stay aloft for hours and days (the industry is now working on nuclear powered drones that will be able to stay aloft for months!!), spying on vast areas, tracking suspects and targeting people on the ground who can be killed by missile and bombs. In fact, war drones are bringing us to the next state of military combat: war by remote control!
The Pentagon, as always, claims that these are the new weapons of choice in that no American lives (pilots) are endangered. They also claim that they are infallible and smart; i.e. super-accurate in their ability to track down those who they consider to be enemies or terrorists and then kill them. The problem with that is that it’s just not true. Many hundreds of innocent civilians have already been killed. Some experts argue that in Pakistan alone, the so-called kill ratio of civilian to terrorist has been a hundred to one! Innocents are killed because the drones are not infallible. They can have technical malfunctions. They can be fed the wrong information (intelligence from the ground must be fed to the control centers). Their bombs are said to obliterate all living things within a 200-foot ratio of the actual target so if dropped on a house in a village one can expect large amounts of “collateral damage” (Pentagon-speak for deaths of innocent bystanders).
War drones are also an extremely costly addition to the already immense Pentagon budget. They will take tens of billions of dollars in the years ahead as the industry rushes into this lucrative new area of war profits.
Another ominous aspect of the use of drones is recently-passed legislation, legalizing their use over U.S. airspace. The NYPD and tens of thousands of other American law enforcement agencies are clamoring for these devices that can be used to spy on American communities and citizens as we go about our daily activities. The drone industry is lobbying hard to sell these spies-in-the-skies to all kinds of buyers from government agencies to private individuals and companies. Shades of 1984!
Congress should put a break on this immediately! With an economy in turmoil and debt due to two endless wars and annual military budgets that strangle domestic needs, war drones are a dangerous and expensive new technology that will make matters worse. They are so detested by people on whom they are being used that it can be said they are making us more of a target of terrorism not less as the Pentagon and industry claim. They are, perhaps, one of the best recruitment tools the terrorists have and therefore make us qualitatively less safe for every innocent civilian they kill.
But Congress has aCongressional Unmanned Systems Caucus (War Drones Caucus) which is actively promoting the use of these new weapons at home and abroad. Without any shame whatsoever, its Chairman boasts that the caucus is the “voice of the industry” in Congress. Talk about a conflict of interests! One of our own Brooklyn Representaitves, Edolphus Towns, is a member of this caucus. He should be challenged on this and asked to resign his membership as it does not serve the interests of the people who voted for him and who he is sworn to represent. We are asking Mr. Towns – Billions for war drones? No! We need that money to be spent on jobs, schools, decent and affordable housing and health care. Shame on you!
A Know Drones Tour of Brooklyn communities will be held next week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – April 12th, 13th, and 14th. Brooklyn For Peace’s Peace And Economic Justice Committee, in cooperation with KnowDrones, will set up informational tables on busy Brooklyn corners. Scale models of war drones will be erected and flyers will be distributed that will inform residents of these deadly new weapons and just how their taxes dollars are being mis-used. We will also let people know that Congressman Towns is a member of the the Congressional War-Drones Caucus and that we are asking him to resign it.
You can join these “sidewalk seminars” and help us reach our neighbors. Information on the locations and times are on this informational flyer.
The Know Drones Tour will culminate in a meeting at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church on Saturday, April 14th at 3:30 pm. Speakers will address the event, including BFP’s Co-Chair, David Tykulsker and Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin, who has just written a book on war-drones. Be sure not to miss this exciting event.
Please help us by taking a short survey.
Help Brooklyn For Peace become a more effective peace and justice organization!
Please take part in a very short survey — only 8 questions. We’re trying to find out how many of our friends and members are directly involved in employment or services that are facing budget cuts and layoffs so that we can plan more effective responses to the cutbacks and economic warfare being inflicted on our communities and families.
Are you employed in a job or are are you a receiver of services that puts you directly in the line of fire when it comes to cuts in social services and layoffs to our public employees?
Are you a teacher, librarian, social worker, volunteer, day care or senior care provider, home health aide … and so on?
Do you or your family receive services such as counselling, day care, senior care, early childhood services … and so on?
Please fill out the survey by clicking here. All responses will be held in strict confidence.
This survey is being conducted by the Peace And Economic Justice (PEJ) Committee of Brooklyn For Peace (BFP). The PEJ committee focuses on the bloated military spending policies of Congress and the administration. These mis-guided priorities have resulted in large layoffs to public employees and huge cutbacks to vital services.
Thank you, in advance, for helping to make Brooklyn For Peace a more effective fighter for peace and justice.
One thing has become crystal clear in the past few days. The rosy fictions emanating from the Pentagon and the White House about “success” and “completing the mission” in Afghanistan are being blown apart, in front of our very eyes, by reality. Based on shifting rationales of why this was the “correct” war – first to get Osama Bin Laden and destroy al-Queda, then to build a prosperous and democratic Afghanistan and lastly, to train and equip the Afghan government so they could secure the country – one justification for war after another has come and gone in the face of the cold, hard truth so dramatically demonstrated this week.
In the latest incident of American arrogance and disdain for the people who we are allegedly there to save, U.S. soldiers burned Quarans, igniting a firestorm of protests that have not subsided. Calls for “death to America” and demonstrations against the occupation and its puppet, Harmad Karzai, continue unabated. And in the capitol of Kabul, within the inner sanctum of the Interior Ministry, said to be the most secure location in all of Afghanistan, assassins are able to kill U.S. soldiers with apparent impunity. If this doesn’t indicate total failure of ten years of war and occupation it’s hard to conceive of what would, short of a repetition of the ignominious retreat of U.S. forces from the roof of the embassy in Saigon at the conclusion of that failed war. Given the widespread ferocity of the mass protests against the U.S. presence throughout Afghanistan it’s not too far fetched to imagine such a scenario.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been colossal and costly failures. Not only for those two suffering countries, something that is never noted in the mainstream press which must always bow to the self-proclaimed right of the U.S. to wage war wherever and whenever, without as much as a glance for the people suffering inside the countries designated for aggression by the world’s mightiest war machine. These countries have been literally ground into the dust and their people have suffered untold misery: death, injury and displacement.
The wars have been costly to our country as well: thousands of deaths to our soldiers, many more critically wounded, their lives cut short or destroyed. And then there’s the staggering financial cost – a trillion and a half dollars (others say as much as $4 Trillion!) This squandering of our country’s wealth has proceeded in the midst of a severe economic depression that has thrown people out of work and home and resulted in cuts to urgently needed services. While our country stands increasingly threadbare, our infrastructure crumbling, our public schools decaying, health care denied for millions – during all this, the wars go on! And calls for a new war in Iran are escalated. It seems that madness is fully in charge in the homeland.
This coming Saturday, March 3rd, we have a chance to examine the war in Afghanistan. A showing of the dramatic film, 10 Years On: Afghanistan & Pakistan, will be shown at the Park Slope United Methodist Church under the auspices of that church’s Social Action Committee. We urge people to attend to get a better perspective of what this failed policy has meant to us and to the people of that region. The film, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, begins at 7:30. If you can get to the church earlier, an Afghan crafts show begins at 5:30 pm and a pot luck dinner at 6:30 precedes the film (RSVP for the dinner only to firstname.lastname@example.org). Please put this on your calendar and mark it “urgent.”
Brooklyn Streets Resound To Calls For Fairness And Justice
Feb 11, 2012
Residents of Kensington and other Brooklyn residents took to the streets today, on a gray and chilly winter day, to demonstrate their support for workers at a Church Avenue markeet and greengrocer, Golden Farm. The workers there, mostly Latinos, have been cheated out of wages, forced to work long hours without overtime and paid less than $4.00 per hour in disregard of minimum wage regulations. This had been going on for years until March of 2010 when the workers decided to organize to put an end to their unjust treatment at the hands of an unscrupulous boss, a Mr. Sonny Kim. Now they are engaged in litigation and a determined fight back for fairness and decent wages, not to mention demands for compensation for their unpaid wages that they were cheated out of. They have reached out for community support and today it was forthcoming as a large crowd of several hundred residents and neighbors turned out to march and rally in their support.
The protest was called by New York Communities for Change and supported by individuals and other community groups. Members of Brooklyn For Peace’s Peace And Economic Justice Committee were there with signs to support the workers. The group of supporters were exuberant in their support and the neighborhood resounded with chants of “Fresh fruit! Fair wages!” and “Every nickel, every dime … Pay us all our overtime!” The support was musical also with the great activist band The Rude Mechanical Orchestra marching along. The brass band brought passers-by to a surprised stand still and shoppers and shopkeepers to the windows of the stores that lined the street to find out what was going on in their usually quiet neighborhood.
State Senator Eric Adams and Councilmember Brad Lander were there and spoke to the rally. They demanded that the Golden Farm workers be treated with respect and guaranteed their fair wages. Adams said that workers throughout New York must be treated fairly regardless of their ethnicity or their ability to speak English. This was a reference to an outrageous sentiment attributed to the market’s owner, who was quoted in a NY Daily News article saying that the workers couldn’t be aware of what the minimum wage is because they had no knowledge of English.
It seems that, as the Bob Dylan song noted, the times are a changing once again. Its back to the future with a scene that might have resonated in New York streets in the 1920’s or 30’s – demands for labor’s rights, fair treatments and decent wages are popular, and certainly relevant, once again. This certainly is a reflection of a new consciousness among today’s youth, who were well represented in today’s protest, and can be attributed directly to the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests that have exposed so clearly the fault lines running through American society.
All agreed that today’s support rally was an inspiring event that left people determined to return again and again until the workers of Golden Farm win their battle for fairness, dignity and justice.
Statement by Brooklyn For Peace on Withdrawal of US Troops from Iraq
Brooklyn For Peace welcomes the removal of all American ground troops from Iraq. We are relieved that thousands of American soldiers will be coming home to their communities, and that the Iraqi people will be free of foreign occupation.
These developments are the long overdue and long awaited result of the persistent work of the international peace movement and the formidable resistance inside Iraq. In the absence of these pressures, it is clear that US military forces would have remained beyond the end of 2011–the deadline set down in the Status of Forces Agreement signed by President Bush. Continue reading →
Marching To Defend Democracy And Protecting The Right To Vote
Dec 10, 2011
On this day, the United Nations Human Rights Day, thousands gathered in front of the offices of Koch Industries. Organizations funded by the billionaire brothers have been busy lobbying state legislators and governors, persuading them to enact legislation that attacks democratic rights by restricting voting rights.
In some 30 sates, right-wing lawmakers have passed laws that roll back motor-voter registration, do away with Sunday voting, require state-issued photo ID’s and bar convicted felons from the voting booth. Under the guise of preventing voter fraud – a non-issue because electoral fraud is virtually non-existent – these new laws are designed not to prevent fraud but to prevent citizens from voting their choice. These laws are the modern equivalent of yesterday’s Jim Crow poll tax and literacy tests that were used in the last century to disenfranchise vast numbers of African-American voters in the south.
From the Koch brothers’ office on Madison Avenue and East 61st Street, the marchers walked to the United Nations and a rally.
Sponsored by the NAACP, domestic issue organizations and many different unions, including the Transport Workers Union, The United Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union/1199, the coalition issued this call:
Voting rights are under attack.
Our nation is in the midst of the most aggressive attempt to roll back voting rights in over a century.
A century ago, the target was the voting rights of Black voters and other voters of color. The goal was to eliminate their presence at the polls to accelerate the spread of racial segregation.
Today, the target is the voting rights of Black voters, Latino voters, Asian American Voters, Native American Voters, as well as students and young people, seniors, working women, and immigrants of all colors. These are also among the voting demographics who are most likely to support workers rights, equal opportunity, women’s rights, LBGT rights, environmental protection, and peace.
A century ago, their tactics were varied: grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and racially motivated ex-felon voting bans.
Today, voter suppression also takes many forms, including attacks on early and Sunday voting to make voting harder for working people, photo ID requirements for voting and registration that introduce the first financial barrier to voting since the poll tax, and the same racially-motivated ex-felon bans.
Attacking voting rights was un-American then.
Attacking voting rights is un-American now.
We rose to the challenge then.
We must meet the challenge now.
It’s time for each of us to Stand for Freedom.
Brooklyn For Peace endorsed and participated in this march. Restricting voting rights goes hand-in-hand with the drive to war and the militarism that is a hallmark of today’s American society. The fight for peace, to stop the vicious cutbacks in vital services, to change priorities from war to human needs – these require a full and functioning people’s democracy, with freedom of speech and assembly and the unfettered right to vote in elections that are free from corporate money and dominance.
Make History Tomorrow Because You Can’t Evict An Idea!
Nov 16, 2011
They came in the dead of night, overwhelming peaceful protesters with brute force, tear gas, batons and pepper spray. They dumped tents and tarps and computers and books – 5,000 or so books! – into trash bins and garbage trucks. They arrested over a hundred peaceful demonstrators. And all this was done under the pretext of protecting the public’s “health and safety”, carried out on the orders of the Billionaire Mayor of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg.
Curiously, this mayor has been a chief culprit when it comes to the deteriorating health and safety of the people who elected him —
The so-called Education Mayor has fired hundreds of school aids and made severe cutbacks to our public schools, forcing children into unsafe, overcrowded and dilapidated classrooms.
His policies have allowed his wealthy developer pals to gentrify vast sections of the city, driving rents up and forcing poor people out, causing more homelessness and helping to destroy the middle class.
He is silent even though large sections of Brooklyn (and other boroughs) are losing one hospital after another, leaving large numbers of New Yorkers without access to decent medical care.
Instead of supporting the basic tenets of the Occupy Wall Street movement, this Mayor (and many others) have been trying to shift the discussion to irrelevant issues of health and safety. OWS says that we face an economic emergency: Our homes are being taken by greedy banks that we bailed out. Job prospects for the unemployed, students, and veterans are practically non-existent. And at all levels, politicians are looking to make even deeper cuts to our schools and vital health and human services. The Mayors should be standing by the side of OWS because it is their cities, and the people who live in them, that are suffering the most.
Tomorrow, in New York City and around the country and the world, we will deliver an answer to the Billionaire Mayor. Thousands will turn out for a National Day of Action to celebrate the 2-month birthday of OWS and to tell him and other elected officials under the sway of the One Percent –
“You cannot evict an idea whose time has come. We are not going away. We want our country back and we demand a change in priorities!”
You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.
Rule by the One Percent has given us endless wars, loss of homes and jobs and cuts to our social services. Now we are being told that we must suffer even more with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security on the chopping block of the Congressional Super Committee.
Occupy Wall Street has changed the agenda. It says:
“Let the billionaires and Wall Street pay for the mess that they created! Hands off our Social Security and other vital programs! End these wars and cut the bloated Pentagon instead!”
Please join the thousands tomorrow, Thursday, November 17th at 5:00 pm in Foley Square. The Brooklyn For Peace contingent will meet at 4:30 to 5:00 pm, one block north of Foley Square at the SW corner of Leonard and Lafayette Streets. Get a map link here.
For some videos and photos of yesterday’s triumphant reclaiming of Zuccotti Square, click here.
Who We Are
The Peace and Economic Justice Committee could also be called the Brooklyn For Peace Direct Action Committee....Read more