Veterans for Peace campaigns against war profiteers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Around 100 Members of Veterans for Peace and their supporters began a campaign against war profiteers with a picket at the Radisson Hotel in Sacramento on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. As they arrived, some rowdy looking bikers holding signs saying, “If you like free speech, thank a Marine,” jostled with the veterans. But after an hour-long counter-protest, the pro-war bikers roared off into the horizon.

Why the Radisson? The hotel maintains a facility for the exclusive use of Sacramento MEPS, the Military Entrance Processing Station, said Cres Vellucci of Veterans for Peace (VFP). “Every individual who enters the military from Fresno to the Oregon border is indoctrinated and housed at the Radisson prior to testing and entrance into the military,” he said. The Radisson has denied VFP’s request to distribute informational literature that would help potential recruits make a more informed decision.

At 11 a.m., the veterans were joined by Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and other organizations for a memorial tribute to the hundreds of Californians sacrificed in an illegal war based on Bush administration lies.

“The Radisson is a major player in the effort by the U.S. Armed Forces to recruit people for the war in Iraq,” said George Main, president of VFP Chapter 87. “Our organization is not allowed to bring the truth about the military to these young men and women before they go to Iraq.”

Pat Driscoll, founder of Sacramento VFP, pointed out that the picket signs are reusable, “so that after we get the Radisson to withdraw from war profiteering, we can go after Halliburton, Aerojet and other companies than profit from the deaths of our soldiers in Iraq.”

Joshua of Sacramento IVAW, who was in Iraq from February 2003 to February 2004, personally went through the MEPS Processing at the Radisson before he entered the military. While in Iraq, he saw three of his buddies die in combat. “I don’t want to support anybody like the Radisson who profits from the war,” he said.

Driscoll later reported that a tire on his vehicle was destroyed, apparently by a knife, following the confrontation with the motorcycle counter-demonstrators.

Vellucci said VFP plans to conduct regular pickets at the hotel until it agrees to stop profiting from the deaths of U.S. troops in Iraq. Other Radisson hotels statewide may also be targeted for protest.