Rivers of Blood II, 2017 Call to Action

12 Jul 2017 - 22:00


Rivers of Blood II, 2017  Call to Action

“…This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers…”

– Martin Luther King, Jr. from Beyond Vietnam:  A Time to Break Silence

The words of Martin Luther King Jr. at Riverside Church, fifty years ago and exactly one year before his assassination in 1968, are just as powerful today calling us with urgency to speak out, renounce our comfort, act, and break the silence to the ongoing US wars and militarism. The obscene immoral military budget and the waging of endless wars are not sustainable and threaten us all with annihilation. Every day we remain silent and embrace our comfort is another day the poor and victims of militarism in the United States, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, and Palestine live in fear, misery, and hopelessness. Now, is the time to break our silence and act!

The multiple places of US war-making from the recent dropping of the most powerful non-nuclear weapon, MOAB, on Afghanistan to the illegal drone program terrorizing, maiming and killing innocents in numerous countries, to the upgrading of the nuclear arsenal call us to action. The US must engage China and Russia with real diplomacy and threatening war with North Korea is madness!
This violence of empire, this militarism, is the new norm for our young people. War is the backdrop of their lives.  It is a given. However, the reality is that it is a theft of their future. President Trump, who dined on chocolate cake while bombing Syria, has called for an extra $54 billion increase in Pentagon spending which does not include the planned trillions in the nuclear weapons arsenal. The Pentagon, where future resource wars are planned, is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world. The climate crisis is reaching a tipping point. The climate crisis and nuclear weapons pose a threat to ALL life on the planet. We must protect Mother Earth and her children!

Ten years ago, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) organized an action in the US Capitol called Rivers of Blood. The idea was that the US Congress controls the purse strings for war and that the congress has a responsibility to end the wars and cut the US military budget. The rivers of blood flow through the US Capitol because of the complicity of congress for these wars and endless militarism.

NCNR has decided to organize actions over the next year holding up King’s Beyond Vietnam speech. We will hold our first action this June calling for a Rivers of Blood II action at the US Capitol. In addition, we will remember those who joined us ten years ago for the first Rivers of Blood resistance action but are no longer with us. We remember Steve Mihalis, Tim Chadwick, Joe DeRaymond, and Peter DeMott. Presente!

For the voiceless victims of our endless wars, for our children and future generations, and for our planet we must break our silence, give up our comfort, and act!

We call on all who seek peace and justice in the world to join us for this Rivers of Blood II action of nonviolent civil resistance.

We will take action on Wednesday July 12.  We will meet at 10:00 am at the Union Station food court near the Walgreens for our final planning meeting.  If the weather permits, we will leave shortly to go outside for our meeting, so try to be on time.

Please wear a t-shirt that has been painted with red paint to simulate blood.

If you will be joining us in risking arrest or would like more information, please contact joyfirst5@gmail.com

Petition from the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, July 12, 2017

To Representatives Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, and Senators Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer –

As members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR], we are petitioning you on behalf of the voiceless, the poor, the middle class, the immigrants and people whose pleas are ignored.  Sadly, President Trump has embarked on a policy in favor of militarism, income inequality and climate chaos.  As part of his invidiousness, he has targeted immigrants and people of the Muslim faith.  We and so many others reject Trumpism, and we urge you as a legislator to also reject the president’s pernicious policies.  You could do this by passing laws which severely cut the military budget, provide a living wage for all, protect Mother Earth, and recognize that most immigrants are people fleeing human rights abuses.

Of most concern to NCNR is the U.S. empire.  There are an estimated 800 military bases around the world, and members of the U.S. military are currently involved in seven wars.  Special operations soldiers may be involved in other conflicts as well.  In February, President Trump requested an additional $54 billion for the military, while making drastic cuts to social programs.  We cannot accept this, as spending on militarism currently consumes some 50% of the discretionary federal budget.

As members of peace and justice organizations opposed to our government’s failed domestic and foreign policies, we are speaking out to challenge you to produce a budget which benefits the ninety-nine percent, most importantly the poor, rather than a wealthy and privileged elite.  At home, our economic system has been a bust for most everyone but the one percent.  Overseas, U.S. warmongering has had a devastating effect, most especially in the Middle East and Africa. For example, the government is using militarized unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) to kill people, mostly civilians, in at least seven countries. The use of armed drones is wrong on many levels: the illegality of assassinations, the violation of international law and the Constitutional protection of due process, the lack of Congressional approval and the disregard of sovereignty.  Instead of militarism, Congress should emphasize diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

Disregard of the scientific research for the causes of climate chaos is leading to the destruction of the planet.   It can be argued that the Pentagon is the entity most responsible for ecocide.

Poverty is adversely affecting the quality of life for too many citizens.  The people are suffering from lack of food, health care, education, a living wage, adequate housing, and the list goes on.  It is unconscionable that we have children in the United States going to bed hungry.  Just a portion of the bloated Pentagon budget redirected towards human needs could alleviate this suffering and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

Since the U.S. has refused to get rid of its nuclear arsenal, which is capable of annihilation of all life on the planet, our government is extremely hypocritical in urging North Korea to disarm.  And the president, it seems, may lead us into a Hot War with North Korea.  This would be a tragedy of unforeseen consequence.

Dangerous tensions and brinkmanship on the Korean peninsula could lead to armed conflict. North Korea continues its missile tests, and in response the Trump Administration has deployed the USS Michigan, a Trident submarine which is probably carrying nuclear weapons.

South Korea could be considered a US military outpost. For example, the US installed THAAD, “a missile defense system,”and some portion of the South Korea population has protested these war cries from the Trump Administration.  US intrusion into Korean affairs is but one example of the reach of the U.S. Empire. Beating this war drum is a sure-fire way of demanding more money for the US military budget.

On the 100th anniversary of the Great War, remember what Randolph Bourne told us: “War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate co-operation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense.”  Note that the Pentagon budget has never been audited.

The president’s first act of war was the invasion in Yemen by the navy Seals who left behind a $75 million dollar plane in this bungled operation.  The USS Zumwalt, which was commissioned in Baltimore in October 2016, cost more than $4 billion, way over budget.  Last year, the ship broke down in the Panama Canal.

When President Trump made his call for increasing the military budget, he did it on the USS Gerald Ford.  This battleship is not seaworthy, and due to cost over-runs has a price tag of more than $17 billion.

The 59 sea-launched cruise missiles that Trump unleashed on a Syrian airport cost about $30 million.  The airport was in use the following day.

And on the Thursday before Easter, the U.S. military used MOAB, the largest non-nuclear bomb ever, in Afghanistan. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the use of MOAB was “an immense atrocity against the Afghan people.”

A new approach to leadership is required to address the problems and crises we all face.  We have the audacity to petition you to give serious consideration to the demands stated here.  This is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech at the Riverside Church in Manhattan, entitled ”Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”This was a prophetic speech.  King recognized the U.S. government was fighting an imperial war in Vietnam. He pointed out that this was “the symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.”The Washington powerbrokers did not listen to King.  He predicted our current disastrous situation:  “we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”As Congressional leaders, you should heed the words of King and renounce militarism, racism, income inequality and climate chaos.  Failure to do so will cause so many of us to nonviolently resist an administration bent on continuing policies which will lead to more war, more inequality and ecocide.

In peace,

Joy First, Malachy Kilbride, Max Obuszewski and Janice Sevre-Duszynska


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