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Peace Fair 2005
The Third Annual Brooklyn Peace Fair
Over 2000 Attend!
Speaks to Capacity Crowd !
Brooklyn For Peace hosted its Third Annual Peace Fair on October 22, 2005 at the YWCA of Brooklyn. Over 100 local community organizations, religious groups, arts organizations, performers, and elected officials — all dedicated to peace, justice, and a better society — participated in this year's Peace Fair. Through workshops on current events, music, arts activities, discussion groups, video presentations, information tables and performance, groups of all kinds presented their work and encouraged New Yorkers to take action. According to organizers, over 2000 people attended the Fair. The breadth of perspectives represented by participating organizations showed the growing plurality and strength of the peace and justice movement.
Cindy Sheehan, the keynote speaker, packed a standing-room only auditorium to the rafters. She emphasized that the discussion on the war should not revolve around right and left, but right and wrong. Her message brought some to tears, and set the tone for addresses to follow. Ms. Sheehan, founding member of Gold Star Families for Peace, lost her son to the war in Iraq and single-handedly galvanized the nation this summer as she camped outside the President's Texas ranch, demanding that Bush tell her in person what "noble cause" her son had died for. Many believe that the President's arrogant refusal to meet with her initiated the sharp decline in Bush's approval ratings. Read her daughter's poem that she read at the Fair.
Carolyn Eisenberg, Brooklyn For Peace's Vice Chair and Hofstra University Professor of Foreign Policy, followed Ms. Sheehan and compelled New Yorkers to take action. "We need to compel our government to listen to the people. If we don't bring the troops home soon, we will be at war in the Middle East for a generation, our city will be the obvious target for terrorists, and the $1 billion a week we are spending in Iraq will multiply, destroying our already inadequate health, education and welfare systems." Read Rusti's opening remarks in their entirety. Iraq Veterans Against the War, was one of the nearly 70 local peace and justice organizations that were stationed at tables at the Fair, sharing information about their work. According to Alex Ryabov, a member of IVAW, the US should bring the troops home now, take care of the troops when they get here, and support Iraq in its reconstruction. His organization is critical of the Veterans' Administration funding, poor treatment for veterans, and the profiteering taking place at the expense of soldiers' lives taxpayer dollars and Iraq's future. Some casualties of the war are voiceless and isolated in strange lands. Adem Carroll, of the Islamic Center Relief Organization, spoke about the mistreatment of detainees at home and abroad, and recommended letter-writing campaigns to help free innocent men being held wrongly as enemy combatants. "Criminalizing immigrants is a general part of the so-called war on terror … Bush is … implementing some really restrictive policies. Immigrants, not just Muslim immigrants, are being targeted." The war was not the only topic of the Fair. John Perry Barlow, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and former Grateful Dead lyricist, spoke on several technology, copyright, and communications topics, including the freedom endangered by federal Internet regulation and monitoring. According to Barlow, "the real war is the war on liberty in America. War has given the government carte blanche to gather information on people that they would otherwise feel compelled by the Constitution and a long set of American traditions not to gather." Sheldon and Anita Drobny, founders of the Air America radio, blamed the right-wing stranglehold on American airwaves for the Iraq war and more. Drobny, a Chicago-based venture capitalist, philanthropist, and political activist, lashed out against the destructive self-interest of today's corporate-owned media, and shared how it inspired his concept for a more balanced public discourse. Participating organizations led workshops on a variety of causes that spanned the globe and ranged from counter-recruitment and how to build opposition to military recruiting in the city's schools, to an exploration of peace in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israelis, and independence and self-determination for East Timor. Other organizations championed numerous causes, further enlarging the Peace Fair's diversity. Code Pink New York was making their first appearance at the Peace Fair, arguing against war but also having worked towards closing New York's Indian Point nuclear reactor and promoting "healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities". During the day, children also created paintings and drawings that evoked their images of peace while local entertainers performed and sang out with songs of protest and hope. And attendees literally broke bread together, enjoying the free food donated by local businesses.
Eleventh District New York Congressman Major Owens, a presence at last year's fair, was impressed with this year's. "Today's event was very successful; we are reaching a cross-section of ordinary citizens of America. Folks truly appreciate the opportunity to express themselves," he said.
The event culminated in a peace walk past the Brooklyn military recruiting station and through the busy Fulton Mall shopping area.
Drumming, chanting, passing out flyers, and sign-toting were book-ended by giant effigies of a winged missile and a vulture tolling the number of Iraqi and U.S. deaths. Marchers distributed information to passers-by about how to counter the presence of military recruiters in schools. Matt Weinstein, a member of Brooklyn For Peace, shares his experiences at the Brooklyn Peace Fair 2005 in his blog. Brooklyn For Peace is a 21-year-old organization that. has advocated for diverse causes from local nuclear non-proliferation to protesting both Iraq wars. The YWCA of Brooklyn, the host and co-sponsor of the Fair, was established in 1890 and still remains committed to empowering women and eliminating racism. The YWCA of Brooklyn is a community based non-profit committed to empowering women and girls and eliminating racism. The Brooklyn Peace Fair helped begin the YWCA's annual "Week Without Violence."
Peace Fair 2005 Highlights
Peace Fair 2005
Brooklyn For Peace
41 Schermerhorn St., PMB 106
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Host and Co-sponsored by:
YWCA of Brooklyn
30 Third Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11217