Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2007, page 52

Waging Peace

Veterans, Military Families Protest War Funding

Iraq Veterans Against the War’s Adam Kokesh, who served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marines, is arrested (Photo Courtesy Tina Richards).

THE U.S. SENATE voted 51-46 to pass the $124.2 billion military supplemental spending bill at around 1 p.m. on April 26. At the same time a coalition of military families, veterans and anti-war groups held a dramatic protest inside the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC. The protest featured the reading of letters from military families calling for a swift end to the occupation of Iraq, two 600-square-foot banners and a funeral honoring the next fallen U.S. soldier.

A dozen peace activists were arrested during the funeral portion of the protest alongside the giant Alexander Calder statue in the center of the atrium. Among those arrested were Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip-Hop Caucus and Adam Kokesh with Iraq Veterans Against the War who served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marines.

“These are letters from families who don't want their sons and daughters to be sent off to Iraq for a third, sometimes even fourth tour of duty,” said Tina Richards, mother of Cloy Richards, a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Others joined Richards in reading several poignant letters.

Among those arrested was Kevin Zeese, director of Democracy Rising and a former independent candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maryland.

“We know that Bush may veto this bill, but we don’t think it goes far enough in bringing our troops home,” said Pete Perry of the Washington Peace Center. “Funding this quagmire for another year is not bringing them home.”

The citizen activist groups involved in organizing and participating in the dramatic protest included United for Peace and Justice, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, GrassrootsAmerica4Us.org, Washington Peace Center, Voters for Peace, Democracy Rising, Artists Against the War and Code Pink.

Footage of the protest can be found on YouTube and Google Video.

Pete Perry