No to the FTAA!
No to Plan Colombia!
No to Operation Gatekeeper!
Full Justice and Respect
for all Immigrants!
Stop the Scapegoating of Middle Eastern People!
Stop the Impoverishment of Latin America & the Caribbean!
Stop All Racist Attacks!
Stop the Attacks on People of Color, Women, Immigrants, Workers, the Poor, Youth and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community!
On Monday evening, Sept. 17, at its general meeting, the Los Angeles September 29 Coalition overwhelmingly united & voted to go forward with our planned protest demanding "No to FTAA! No to Plan Colombia! Stop Operation Gatekeeper! Full rights and legalization to immigrants!"
With over 70 people in attendance representing many of the different organizations and individuals who have been actively working on all the different aspects of building for S29, we discussed the impact of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center & Pentagon on the plans the L.A. S29 Coalition has made. Should we go forward in what everyone recognized as a changed political climate, and if so, how should we speak to these developments, including the U.S. plans to go to war, calls for vengeance and the ugly climate of scape-goating Arab and Muslim people? An announcement was made at the start of the meeting that the "convening organizations" that had initially called for national S29 actions were temporarily postponing/suspending their planned S29 mobilizations. [I will not attempt to sum up their reasons as they can and should speak for themselves, nor list the organizations as it was not clearly stated who these organizations were in the meeting]. The discussion and struggle focused on what we, in the Los Angeles S29 Coalition, should do.
The discussion was heated and passionate, and rightfully so! Many spoke to the shock and horror over the developments in NYC and Wash., DC and their grief and sorrow over the loss of so many innocent lives. Some said they thought in these times our message would not be heard or could hurt the issues and efforts we came together around, in particular with regard to immigrants and legalization. Many others spoke powerfully about how this was exactly the right moment - millions are asking why something like this would happen, why do people hate the US so much. We talked about the relevance of the demands of S29 and how a powerful protest on S29 can contribute to answering that question. Some of the very reasons are embodied in the effect on hundreds of millions of innocent human lives all around the world that corporate globalization, the FTAA, Plan Colombia and Operation Gatekeeper is having. There has been no suspension of Plan Colombia or the FTAA by the US government and corporations and we are seeing the intensification of Operation Gatekeeper at the border. As to the anti-xenophobic hysteria being whipped up against immigrants, right now our call for full respect for all immigrants and opposing attacks on ALL immigrants was even more needed.
Someone talked about how people around the world are looking to see what we do - will we back down from speaking out about the global crimes and injustices perpetuated and being planned by US corporations and government in this climate? We came together committed to speaking about the devastation and horrors due to trade agreements, sending of military weapons and training of troops by US government and corporations all around the world and now they are pounding the war drums even louder. To be silent - or suspend our efforts - was not acceptable. They have not stopped and we will not be stopped - people need to hear the message of S29 - this is the time to speak to millions. A teacher talked about how he is always looking for teaching moments - this is one of those moments - millions are asking - and this is an opportunity to tell them the truth - why do people the world over so strongly oppose US government and corporations - look at what they have done to the world's people & the environment and why they must be opposed and stopped from committing more horror and devastation.
Many of us felt in light of these developments we must speak out even louder and we must oppose US plans to go to war and their calls for retaliation and the attacks on our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters. We felt that this was within the spirit of our overall slogan - opposing US military intervention. Now more than ever! We agreed that some modifications to the demands and the speakers at S29 should be made to include a strong message of NO TO U.S. WAR! and no scape-goating of Arab and Muslim people. We were not able to finalize this sentiment into a formal demand and will do that in the next few days. We want to contact and hear from all the groups and individuals who endorsed and have been working on S29 in L.A.
Another concern raised was the fact that there is strong sentiment to focus on anti-war efforts. To go forward with S29 is not in contradiction to that - while some may feel that is where they want to focus their time and efforts now and will not be putting as much effort into the organizing efforts of S29, we hope that they will be out there with us and many others on S29. We were encouraged by the anti-war sentiments and plans in the works and we encouraged everyone to join and participate in the anti-war protests, coalitions and vigils as well. The point was made that S29 is not less relevant but very timely and because of the efforts and work of the coalition to date - and the word is out - momentum for S29 has been building - now is not the time to stop but step up our efforts!
In unity and struggle,
Jamie Lee (Refuse & Resist!)
Edith Lagos (Youth Student Network of October 22
& Youth are the Future! We Demand A Better World Coalition!)