National Guard Members Encouraged to “Listen to Community”
Two national veterans organizations, Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War, are calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Maryland National Guard from the streets of Baltimore.
“We are horrified to see military weapons, vehicles and equipment deployed in U.S. cities against U.S. citizens who are reacting to a long history of state-sanctioned violence and appalling economic and social conditions,” said Michael McPhearson, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace.
“We are highly concerned, as we approach the 45th anniversary of Kent State this May 4th and Jackson State this May 15th, that we will see another example of nervous and fearful National Guard troops shooting and possibly killing people in the streets of this nation,” continued Michael McPhearson, reading from a statement for Veterans For Peace.
A statement issued by Iraq Veterans Against the War directly addresses their fellow soldiers in the National Guard: “As veterans who have deployed to and served in support of occupations abroad, we see some of the same tactics and military equipment being used by police against the people of Baltimore, just as it was used against the people of Ferguson and Oakland. The increased militarization of our foreign policy and our domestic policing, coupled with racist violence perpetuated by our government, has to stop. The people of Baltimore who are demanding systemic change should be responded to with dialogue not an escalation of force.
“We encourage National Guard members across the country, many of whom we have served with, to begin a conversation on how they will respond when it becomes their turn to be mobilized against their own communities,” continues the statement from Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Both veterans organizations also addressed the underlying cause of the violence in Baltimore, and pointed the way toward a peaceful resolution.
From the Statement by Veterans For Peace: “We call on our nation to hold police accountable for lawless violence against communities, and we call on the rich and powerful to end global wars, to end their indifference and pursuit of profit over humanity and to use the trillions devoted to Pentagon war spending to invest in human needs here at home. The quickest path to end violence is to provide a path to a bright future. Education, jobs and opportunity will lead to stable families and prosperity.”
From the Statement by Iraq Veterans Against the War: “As 1,000 soldiers currently deploy to put down an uprising of exploited people who have been terrorized by a consistently racist police department, we stand in solidarity with the people of Baltimore and encourage service members and veterans to listen to their fellow community members and to stand on the right side of history.”