Report Back from the “Occupation is not Liberation Rally” in Grand Rapids

On May 31st, 30 people attended the first rally sponsored by the new anti-war coalition, the West Michigan Coalition for Justice & Peace. The theme of the rally was “occupation is not liberation.”

GRAND RAPIDS — Thirty people attended a rally Saturday at Fountain Street Church to say that “Occupation is Not Liberation!”

There were several speakers from the local Friends community, the Arab-American community, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Most of the speakers discussed future actions that people opposed to the occupation of Iraq can take, including a campaign to meet with local legislators as well as a campaign to encourage people to contact their legislators to highlight the talking points on the future of Iraq put together by the People’s Alliance for Justice and Change.

In addition, a new campaign was announced to work to get a resolution passed in Grand Rapids that states that Grand Rapids refuses to enforce the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001. Should the Grand Rapids City Council adopt such a resolution, Grand Rapids would join three states and 118 cities, towns, and counties that have passed resolutions protecting civil liberties.

A number of mock “cluster bomblets” were also distributed to people at the rally. The “bomblets” were created to encourage discussion about what really makes a weapon a “weapon of mass destruction.” The following is a photograph of a “bomblet” and the text of the message written on each one:

People's Alliance Cluster Bomblet

WARNING!

You are holding a “cluster bomblet”

If this was real you would be dead or maimed right now, just like the hundreds of people in Afghanistan or Iraq that have picked these up.

A cluster bomb is made up of a large number of bomblets or submunitions, which are dispensed from a metal container and scattered over a wide area. These bomblets are about the size of the can you are holding and colored yellow, making them attractive to children. When they fail to explode as intended, they become indiscriminate killers, waiting to claim an innocent victim. Dud rates for cluster munitions are often in the 10% to 30% range meaning that cluster munitions strikes create the actual effect of a minefield. The U.S. military has used cluster munitions for over thirty years in places such as Laos, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and most recently Iraq. The U.S. and British forces have both acknowledged using cluster munitions in Iraq, dropping nearly 1,500 cluster bombs from the air as well as an undisclosed number launched by artillery.

For more information on Cluster Bombs:

Human Rights Watch

Mennonite Central Committee

This “Bomblet” was put together by the People’s Alliance for Justice and Change To learn more about us go to www.mediamouse.org.

In addition to the campaigns stated above, the West Michigan Coalition for Justice & Peace is in the process of planning future events.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org