WASHINGTON, DC: ‘Bring the troops home, now’

As the peace movement debates its next steps toward curbing Bush administration militarism and deepening national unity for peace, demonstrations continued. On April 12, 30,000 marched in the nation’s capital demanding that the bloodshed end and that U.S. troops be brought home, immediately.

Many marchers changed their signs to read, “Stop the Iraq/Syria War.”

Nicole Dunckel, 21, of Michigan, spent all night on a bus to carry her sign – “The ends do not justify the means.” She said that she supports an international effort, not the U.S. alone, to rebuild Iraq.

SAN FRANCISCO: Halt first strike

Over 6,000 people marched through downtown keeping up the pressure to change Bush’s first strike foreign policy.

“I believe in capitalism, but what’s going on now is the corporate invasion of Iraq,” said marcher Tim Renstrom, 44, who trains foreign currency traders. “But all these marches aren’t going to do anything unless people get out and vote.”

Sushawn Robb, 47, another marcher, urged the peace movement to build and organize because Bush will not stop in Iraq. “We have a long way to go,” she said. “It’s been encouraging but the harder part comes now. War is more black and white than changing U.S. foreign policy.”

SARASOTA, Fla.: Peace activists sit in at Harris Office

The local office of Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.), of 2000 election fame, was the site of a sit-in by 12 peace activists, April 11. Police were not called during the four-hour sit-in.

Harris did call her Florida office to speak to her constituents but refused to cast her vote in Congress against funding for the Iraq war.

As they left the Federal Building, one of the activists, Trudy Pratt, 58, a retired travel agency owner told reporters, “We’ve tried to get our voices heard so many times, in peaceful actions across the country. We’re being ignored.”

PHILADELPHIA, Pa.: Doctor sues for racial profiling

In August 2002, Dr. Bob Rajoomer, a resident of Palm Beach, Fla. of Indian descent, was taken off a plane in Philadelphia in handcuffs. Rajoomer, a retired Lt. Col. in the Army Reserve, filed a civil rights lawsuit charging U.S. Air Marshals with racial profiling.

“We don’t like the way you look,” a marshal told Rajoomer as he was handcuffed.

On a flight from Atlanta to Philadelphia, a passenger became unruly and federal air marshals took control of the passenger section of the plane. They pulled their guns, ordered all not to move and kept passengers in their sights for a half an hour.

When the plane landed, passengers were allowed to leave including Rajoomer and his wife. As he rose, an air marshal clapped on the handcuffs and led Dr. Rajoomer to a cell. He was detained in isolation, unable to contact his wife for hours, while his luggage was searched. “This is a clear cut case of racial profiling,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney, Stefan Presser, who is representing Dr. Rajoomer, said.

The suit asks for an apology, monetary damages and improved training for air marshals.

FORT WORTH, Texas: Machinists shut down Lockheed Martin

Increased wages and improved health care for their families were on the minds of 4,000 machinists, members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District Lodge 776, when they set up their picket lines around the Lockheed Martin complex, April 14.

Machinists, highly skilled tool makers for the 15,000-worker fighter jet factory, voted 2,835 to 426 to reject the company’s last offer. Then they voted 2,380 to 432 to strike.

The union is fighting for raises of 8 percent in the first year and 6 percent in the following two years to help workers pay for skyrocketing health care and drug co-payments. Workers are also demanding a pension increase with the formula of $70 per month of service.

Lockheed Martin declared a profit of $218 million in the first quarter of 2003, a soaring increase of 56 percent compared to the same period in 2002.

“We have foregone a lot of raises over the last few contracts because our company had not been in a good position,” said IAM picket captain Mark Hill. “But this year we absolutely are in a different position – there are record profits at Lockheed Martin. We are asking for a fair contract.”

RALEIGH (County), W.V.: Coal Miner’s daughter fights Massey Energy

Six years ago Julia Bonds’ grandson called her to a nearby stream and asked why all the fish had died. That was it for the grandmother. She had had enough of the blackwater spills, mountaintop blasting and overweight coal trucks. She forged a coalition with the United Mine Workers of America, environmental groups and her neighbors, organizing the Coal River Mountain Watch.

Bonds leads a movement that stopped Massey Energy, the nation’s fifth largest coal operator, from blasting off the tops of mountains, described as “strip mining on steroids” along Coal River, a rich coal seam in southern West Virginia.

She was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, called the Nobel Prize for the Environment. In addition to a bully pulpit to help organize to save the environment, the prize brings a $125,000 no strings attached cash award.

Bonds plans to pay for her grandson’s braces, pay off her house, help buy her daughter a car and devote $50,000 to the coalition.

In battles with Massey Energy, Bonds routinely receives threatening phone calls, faces armed coal company security guards and constant harassment.

Bonds is galvanizing grassroots support to overturn a decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled in favor of a motion brought by the Bush Administration to allow mountaintop blasting. That ruling was issued within days of Bush taking office.

“When powerful people pursue profits at the expense of human rights and our environment, they have failed as leaders,” Bonds said. “Responsible citizens must step forward, not just to point the way, but to lead the way to a better world.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com)