By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief
SAN FRANCISCO – Protests are few and far between since mid-March when California and most states issued stay-at-home orders to try to blunt the killing machine known as COVID-19 – the new protest “strategy” has now become the “caravan protest.”
So, on Memorial Day Monday, several dozen anti-war activists spent hours here driving through the streets of Marin and San Francisco, passing by the Presidio, the National Cemetery in the City to remind people of the “serious failures of U.S. foreign policy and the consequences of perpetual warfare and global militarization,” according to SF Bay Area CODEPINK.
The cars in the peace caravan made it clear that that the goal of this Memorial Day protest was to “Honor the Dead: End War,” as displayed on the lead car in the “parade,” which included a giant Gandhi puppet, and a decked-out bride in full wedding regalia driving a car with the message: “USA Wedded to War.”
Other banner messages included: Climate Justice? END WAR, Fight COVID-19 NOT WAR, SANCTIONS KILL: NO SANCTIONS, JOBS, not BILLIONS FOR WAR.
““Perpetual war is a major contributor to the climate disaster we all face. In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, with severe shortages of essential health equipment, the American public and government officials should re-evaluate our national priorities. It’s time to recognize that genuine national security requires a shift away from our current war economy toward a peace economy, where basic human needs come before profits,” said Toby Blomé, CODEPINK organizer.
The destination of the car protest was the San Francisco home of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, where a Memorial Day Altar honored, said CodePink, the “victims of U.S. warfare after nearly 19 years of bombing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Somalia, with still no end in sight, and more countries actively being threatened (Iran, Venezuela).”
The altar with flowers was set up to memorialize the victims of U.S. wars, and had photos of victims of U.S. drone attacks, including the 16 year old American boy, Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, killed in Yemen, and several very young children killed in Pakistan under President Obama’s Administration.
Protestors left their peace caravan when they arrived at the residence of Feinstein, who has been a favorite target of anti-war protestors because the longtime senator supports all U.S. war efforts.
In fact, a giant “pink slip” was hung next to the steps up to Feinstein’s mansion and public courtyard that read: “Pink Slip Feinstein: STOP FUNDING WAR!”
The letter was just as pointed, reading:
Dear Senator Feinstein,
On Memorial Day 2020, we implore you to:
REMEMBER not just the dead but those whose lives, both civilian and soldier, we can save by ending war. Let’s Honor the Dead by ENDING WAR!
REMEMBER the words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that “war is a non-essential activity” and his call for a GLOBAL CEASEFIRE.
REMEMBER that with the additional $10.4 billion provided to the Pentagon as part of stimulus funding to address the coronavirus pandemic, the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2020 appropriated funding now totals over $756 billion, while the budget for the Centers for Disease Control is $11 Billion, or a mere 1.5% of the Pentagon budget. Omitting additional Pentagon funding from the most recent Stimulus Bill, is a small, but positive first step. Let’s STOP FUNDING WAR!
REMEMBER that the coronavirus pandemic has made it crystal clear that federal spending is dangerously misaligned with the need for global human security. End sanctions on other countries that they may obtain essential supplies to survive and all the world will be safer. SANCTIONS KILL. LET’S END SANCTIONS NOW!
REMEMBER that the United States has chronically underfunded human and environmental needs while, particularly in recent years, passing historically high Pentagon budgets that foster militarism, enable endless war, engender waste, and sow corruption. CLOSE ALL 800+ U.S. FOREIGN MILITARY BASES.
REMEMBER that the U.S. Military pollutes our planet more than the next 10 countries combined. War is Not Green. FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE: END WAR NOW.
REMEMBER that global citizens are demanding that war games be stopped amid the pandemic, as we are poised to spend $340 Million on Defender Europe 2020 and $364 Million on Defender 2021 in the Indo-Pacific region. Keep our military safe. Let’s HALT ALL WAR GAMES.
REMEMBER, Enough is Enough! FUND HUMAN NEEDS, Not Inhuman greed, and war profiteering. FUND: Jobs for the Unemployed, Universal Healthcare, Housing for the Homeless, and Food for the Hungry.
We need your leadership to enact a swift change in priorities to save the people and the planet.
SF Bay Area CODEPINK, and the Memorial Day Peace Caravan
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