Posts filed under ‘Justice’

US War Resisters Stand In Solidarity With Shministim

A day late, but still important…

U.S. military servicemembers and veterans who have refused or are currently refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, stand in solidarity with the Shministim and urge others to support them and take action before December 18th.

The Letter:

We are U.S. military servicemembers and veterans who have refused or are currently refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We stand in solidarity with the Israeli Shministim (Hebrew for 12th graders) who are also resisting military service. About 100 Israeli high school students have signed an open letter declaring their refusal to serve in the Israeli army and their opposition to “Israeli occupation and oppression policy in the occupied territories and the territories of Israel.” In Israel, military service is mandatory for all graduating high school seniors, and resisters face the possibility of years in prison.

We have also refused to participate in unjust acts of military aggression, and many of us have gone to prison or currently live with that possibility as a result. We believe that resistance to unjust war is a bold assertion of humanity in the face of overwhelming violence.

The Global War on Terror, like the Israeli occupation, is propped up by racism and dehumanization and sets the stage for never-ending war and occupation. We are inspired by the brave refusal of our brothers and sisters in Israel to take part in these destructive policies, and we want to let them know today, December 18th – the day of international solidarity with the Shministim – that they have our deepest respect and support.

In Solidarity,

Stephanie Atkinson
Specialist, US Army Reserve. Went AWOL to resist October 1990 deployment to Iraq. Discharged in lieu of courts martial.

Chris Capps-Schubert
Specialist, US Army, communications. Went AWOL March 2007 to resist Iraq redeployment. Discharged in lieu of courts martial.

Eugene Cherry
Specialist, US Army, medic. Went AWOL June 2005 to resist Iraq redeployment, later won honorable discharge.

Matthis Chiroux
Sergeant, US Army, journalist. Currently refusing Inactive Ready Reserve recall.

James Circello
Sergeant, US Army, airborne infantry. Went AWOL April 2007 following Iraq deployment. Discharged in lieu of courts martial.

Carl Davison
US Army, security. Refused Iraq deployment in 2008. Served one month in the brig.

Matthew Edwards
US Marine Corps, Resisted Iraq deployment in March 2003.

Stephen Funk
Lance Corporal, US Marine Corps, logistic support. Went AWOL February 2003 to resist Iraq deployment. Served six months in the brig.

Andrew Gorby
Second Lieutenant, US Army, infantry. Discharged May 2007 as a conscientious objector.

Patrick Hart
Sergeant, US Army. Went AWOL in 2005 to resist Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

Ryan Johnson
Private First Class, US Army. Went AWOL June 2005 to resist Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

Dale Landry
Airman, US Air Force. Went AWOL in 2004 following Afghanistan deployment and has lived in Canada since.

Benjamin Lewis
US Marine Corps, mortar man. After two Iraq deployments, now refusing Inactive Ready Reserve recall.

Robin Long
Specialist, US Army. Went AWOL in June 2005 to resist Iraq deployment and lived in Canada until being deported July 2008. Currently serving a 14 month sentence at the Miramar Naval Brig near San Diego, California.

Christopher Magaoay
Lance Corporal, US Marine Corps. Went AWOL in 2006 to resist Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

Camilo Mejia
Staff Sergeant, Army National Guard. Refused to redeploy to Iraq in 2004. Served nine months in the stockade.

Geoff Millard
Sergeant, Army National Guard. Went AWOL after a deployment to Iraq 2004-2005.

Brandon Neely
US Army, military police. Refused recall from the Inactive Ready Reserve in 2007.

Perry O’Brien
US Army, medic. Discharged as a conscientious objector November 2004 following Afghanistan deployment.

Jeff Paterson
Corporal, US Marine Corps, artillery control. Refused Desert Storm deployment August 1990. Served two months pre-trial confinement. Discharged in lieu of courts martial.

Chanan Suarezdiaz
Hospital Corpsman, Third Class, US Navy. Discharged following 2004 Iraq deployment.

Hart Viges
US Army, airborne mortar man. Discharged as a conscientious objector following 2003 Iraq deployment.

Dean Walcott
US Marine Corps, military police. Went AWOL in 2007 following Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

David Wiggins MD
Captain, US Army, doctor. Resigned commission near the Iraq border during Desert Storm 1991.

Steve Yoczik
Private, US Army. Went AWOL November 2006 to resist Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada since.

For more information on the US war resisters visit

For more info on the Shministim visit



December 19, 2008 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

You have a voice so use it

Having celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day for what I had assumed to be my whole life, I learned otherwise today. [I recall vaguely some nonsense about a few states that didn’t celebrate the holiday in the early 90’s, which seemed so absurd that I was sure that boycotts and/or full out evacuations of New Hampshire, Arizona and South Carolina would occur in protest.] Apparently MLK Jr. Day did not become an official holiday until 1986, and there was a serious amount of organizing, mass demonstrations and pressure to get it passed in 1983. Congressman John Conyers introduced legislation for the holiday for the first time in 1968, yet it took fifteen years after Dr. King’s assassination to push it through Congress, and even then Reagan would have vetoed it if he could have. That’s moral depravity. You can read more about the work put into making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a reality here.

This isn’t a holiday for one person, but for a whole movement, a time to contemplate centuries of injustice that we manage to ignore or disregard so frequently. Dr. King did not carry the Civil Rights Movement, he was not the lone catalyst, and he was not the only one that the cost of participation was his life. A movement requires participation on so many levels, all sorts of tactics, bravery, an unwavering sense of justice and overwhelming commitment to see it through.

Rosa Parks didn’t just refuse to give up her seat on the bus one day [and she wasn’t the first to ever do it], she was an organizer who had worked with the NAACP for decades, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott didn’t magically happen by itself.

I gave my nephew a book about Congressman John Lewis [“John Lewis In the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement”] to read, and at one point he looked up and exclaimed: “He got bashed in the head 3 times and he still got back on the bus, why would anyone do that?” It is hard to explain abstract ideas about movements and justice to children sometimes, especially when illustrating that there are things worth getting a skull fracture for, or that anyone would ever have reason to be so angry about where you sat on a bus that they would fracture your skull in an attempt to kill or stop you.

From lunch counter sit-ins, to marches, to Freedom Schools, Freedom Riders and voter registration, people put their lives and their communities on the line for a better world. The Civil Rights Movement’s fight for justice still goes on, and their efforts sowed seeds for hope and dreams that led to powerful feminist, antiwar, glbttqi, economic justice and other movements.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN while speaking to sanitation workers on strike for just wages and better treatment, a year to the day after his “Beyond Vietnam” Speech at the Riverside Church in NYC on the injustice of war. Dr. King was speaking more and more on the connections between injustice and racism abroad to injustice and racism at home, which seemed to scare people in power and the media even more than everything that came before. Juan Cole reflects on the importance of Dr. King’s antiwar message and its relevance today here. Below you can hear the Riverside speech with current images:

The Civil Rights Movement isn’t over and we must continue to make the connections between movements to create lasting change by upending the roots of injustice rather than fighting the branches independently. There’s work to be done, but for at least this one day a year we can reflect on how far we’ve come.

So in an election year, when people find themselves annoyed by the excessively long hype of the presidential candidates, we have to remember that voting has been viewed as so dangerous that it was worth killing people to intimidate others from trying or fighting for the right. You have a vote and a choice, so ignore the nonsense and educate yourself to make a real decision; they really don’t want you to be engaged in the process, so make sure that you are.

January 22, 2008 at 10:18 am Leave a comment


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