Veterans for Peace held a press conference encouraging public participation in the Wake Up Call, a march and rally that will be held on Saturday, March 19 to commemorate the eight-year anniversary of the Iraqi war.
Veterans for Peace spokespeople describe it as including both left and right wing individuals, from Ron Paul Republicans to members of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Santa Barbara City College Peace Now.
At the March 11 press conference citizens were urged to unite against the war and take it to the streets, following the example of such active communities as Madison, Wisconsin. David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation reminded the audience that the cost of U.S. war efforts at $1.26 trillion, and counting, a statistic taken from www.costofwar.com. Speakers all expressed the sentiment that this money could have been better spent by the U.S. government to elevate and improve society, for example on improving education and reducing homelessness. The wars have taken “a huge toll on our society, decency, and integrity,” said Krieger, and “indelible problems behind.”
Marcelino Sepulveda, a union organizer from SEIU 620, called the war illegal and unjust, stating that the attack on the people of Iraq has proven detrimental to the American ideal of democracy. Sepulveda spoke of the notion of the “shock doctrine”: the idea that the GOP has used the current U.S. situation as a means to implement unpopular policies. Sepulveda placed blame for the collapse of the economy on the shoulders of corporations—in particular war corporations—rather than on public employees. Taxpayer money, he said, is now being used to bail corporations out of a problem that they manufactured.
“This is a class war,” Sepulveda remarked. Sepulveda called collective bargaining “democracy in action” and also discussed pension rights, urging solidarity. “This should not be a race to the bottom,” Sepulveda said. “Don’t let corporations take away any more rights or money.”
While Troy Lucero, a member of the Ron Paul Meet-Up Group, was unable to attend, a statement of his was read that echoed similar ideas of solidarity. Lucero encouraged people of all political parties to find a common ground.
Will Duncan, a representative from SBCC Peace Now, discussed the organization’s role in educating younger generations about issues related to the “war on terror.” Duncan said, “My generation can learn, understand, and rise up and oppose it.”
The Saturday, March 19 event begins at 11 a.m. at De la Guerra Plaza, followed by a silent march down State Street to the Arlington West memorial by Stearn’s Wharf.