MECAWI hearing on Feb. 17 calling for a total withdrawal of funding for the war in Iraq. Congressman John Conyers of Detroit speaking with Abayomi Azikiwe in background.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos.
Rally in Detroit hears calls to cut Iraq funding
February 18, 2007
BY GINA DAMRON
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Posters and picket signs lined the walls of the church's small second-floor room, bursting with messages of anger and frustration.
"Bring the troops home now," one read.
"Cut the war funds."
"Declare a state of emergency."
Antiwar sentiment raged Saturday at Central United Methodist Church in downtown Detroit, as activists and community members gathered.
Speaker after speaker called for Congress to stop funding the war and start using that money for social needs, such as for universal health care, more affordable housing, education and an end to homelessness.
"It's a disgrace before God," said Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson. "Americans of conscience of all backgrounds must stand together as one."
But, as the antiwar activists in Detroit voiced concerns and demanded change Saturday, Senate Republicans were in the process of blocking discussion of a House-passed, nonbinding resolution that criticizes President George W. Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq.
The measure failed in the Senate, 56-34 -- short of the 60 votes it needed. House Democrats had pushed the resolution through Friday.
Still, those at the rally said, Congress needs to go a step further and refuse to continue funding the war.
"We want money for human needs, not war," said Abayomi Azikiwe, a member of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, which sponsored the rally. "It's an unjust war. It's an illegal war."
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, has supported a resolution, which has not made it to the House floor, to cut all funding for the war.
Conyers said that, when he took the floor in the House during debate of the nonbinding resolution, he spoke about 19-year-old Tarryl Hill of Shelby Township. A member of the 1st Battalion of the 24th Marine Regiment, Hill was killed last week by a roadside bomb in Iraq and buried Friday at Acacia Park Cemetery in Beverly Hills.
"He paid with his life," Conyers said to the crowd of about 100 at the church Saturday.
Conyers spoke about Martin Luther King Jr.'s message of peace and nonviolent protest. "He gave us the idea that we could fight nonviolently for justice ... that, whether we like it or not, all people on Earth are connected," Conyers said. "It doesn't look like we can win" the fight to pull troops out of Iraq, "but most of the people in this country don't want war."
That includes Andrea Hackett of Detroit, whose daughter, Tatjuana Hackett, 27, served two tours in Iraq with the Army National Guard.
"When a mother gives birth to her child, she checks all fingers and toes to see if they're all there," she said, reading aloud a letter she wrote but never mailed to Conyers. "And we expect them to be there when they leave here."
Hackett said she has no faith in the president or his policies.
"He has no credibility with us," she said.
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Conyers rallies crowd with anti-war speech
U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) speaks to anti-war crowd at
Central United Methodist Church. Conyers encouraged the
audience to protest the war.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) rallied citizens at Central United Methodist Church on Saturday to commemorate last week’s U.S. House of Representatives passage of the non-binding resolution opposing President Bush’s troop increase in Iraq.
Conyers said Michigan has suffered economically due to increased spending for the war. “Many of Michigan’s economic problems are because of the Iraq war,” he said.
Conyers, a congressman since 1965, has disapproved of the war in Iraq since its inception.
Friday, Conyers voted in favor of the non-binding resolution that would continue to support troops in Iraq but would not send the additional 21,500 troops President George W. Bush wanted to send.
“No more funding for this illegal fight,” Conyers said.
Conyers was introduced by Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson.
Watson said that the war is illegal and called it a disgrace before God. She said she believed Michigan citizens are suffering economically because money being spent on the war is money taken away from the state.
“We don’t have money for decent housing, we don’t have money for schools, and we don’t have money for health care, all because of this war,” she said.
Watson encouraged the crowd to continue opposing the war and to encourage Congress to pass a binding resolution against additional funding and troops.
“Not one cent,” she said. “Not in our name, not on our time.”
Conyers said there are too many solders in Iraq and the Department of Defense hasn’t done enough to support them.
“The Department of Defense is what they call it, but it should be called the Department of War,” he said.
Conyers said the war was unnecessary and illegal and the public and the government need to focus on peace.
“We need a department of peace,” he said,
Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI) member Abayomi Azikiwe wanted people to attend the event so could learn how the war affects Michigan.
“This was is one of the worst criminal acts in history,” he said. “We can’t let this go on.”