The Iraq Summer campaign held its final event last night, a “Take a Stand” town hall meeting that brought together well over 100 opponents of the ongoing war in Iraq. The event–held at Grand Valley State University’s Loosemore Auditorium on GVSU’s downtown Grand Rapids campus–featured music, speakers, and video aimed at pressuring Representative Vern Ehlers to vote to end the Iraq War. As was expected, Representative Ehlers did not attend despite being invited to listen to his constituents’ concerns on Iraq.
The town hall meeting featured a number of different speakers including area residents, professors from GVSU, an antiwar veteran, and a member of the local religious community. The speakers began with Nancy Davis who spoke about the need to end the war and work for peace. Reverend Doug Van Dorn gave a powerful speech denouncing the war as immoral and arguing that those who consider themselves Christians–especially Representative Ehlers–should not support the ongoing occupation of Iraq and never should have supported the invasion. Sociology professor Hermann Kurthen reminded the audience that the Iraq War is part of a larger imperial project intended to maintain the United States’ global hegemony and argued that we must work against this imperial project regardless of whether or not Democrats or Republicans are in power. He further stated that the upcoming debate over “troop reductions” in Congress is a smokescreen designed to conceal the United States’ long-term desire to establish a permanent presence in the region.
The event ended with one of the Iraq Summer organizers giving a brief overview of the campaign. He explained that the group held multiple demonstrations outside of Ehlers’ office in Grand Rapids, distributed 2,000 yard signs reading “Support the Troops, End the War,” raised $4,000 to run newspaper advertisements calling on Ehlers to support a “responsible” end to the war, and questioned Ehlers directly at a recent event in Grand Rapids. The organizer also announced that Ehlers had finally agreed to meet with some constituents about the war on August 29.
The Iraq Summer organizer urged people to continue pressuring Ehlers as he is the only person in the area that can stop the war. There was no path of action offered by the Iraq Summer campaign to do this, but the antiwar group ACTIVATE/SDS was distributing flyers calling on people to attend a rally in Grand Rapids on September 15 at 12:00pm at Rosa Parks Circle to demonstrate that West Michigan supports an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq.
Throughout the campaign, there was little coverage of Iraq Summer’s efforts in the corporate media. However, Media Mouse regularly covered the group’s events:
- 08/16/07: Report Highlighting Cost of Iraq War Delivered to Rep. Ehlers
- 08/10/07: Ehlers Claims it “is False” to Describe him as an “Ardent” Supporter of the Iraq War
- 08/09/07: Ehlers Confronted by Antiwar Protestors at Grand Rapids Event
- 08/09/07: Video Testimonials Call on Ehlers to End Iraq War
- 07/19/07: Constituents Protest Ehlers’ Recent Iraq Vote
- 07/18/07: “Wrong Way Vote” Rally Planned after Ehlers Turns Down Invitation to Explain Iraq Policy
- 07/16/07: Group Decries Michigan Representatives’ Support for Iraq Policy
- 07/12/07: Constituents Invite Ehlers to Explain Iraq War Stance
- 07/07/07: Ehlers Again Pledges to Maintain the Occupation of Iraq
- 07/05/07: Michigan Citizens Urge Vernon Ehlers to Take a Stand Against Endless War in Iraq