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Santa Monica Anti-War Movie Night

by Marckle Van Dark Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2002 at 2:38 AM
sparkle@c-level.cc

I contacted Leone Hankey after getting tipped off that she was a part of the weekly Third Street Promenade Anti-War Film Screening group. She got the group involved in answering my questions, so there are answers from her, Howard, Sam and the mystery person who shall remain nameless. They describe some stuff about their weekly anti-war event. For more info, check out the Coalitionforworldpeace.org website.

error

(1) I am under the impression that the screening of war footage on
the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica has been more then a one-time event. Is that so, if so why?

Sam> The Santa Monica Video Outreach group has organized an event on the Third
Street Promenade almost every week since mid-October. We go out every week
because we are committed to bringing attention to the changing shape of
American foreign policy, specifically in terms of its commitment to the use
of violence to resolve international disputes.


Mystery Person>With all the warmongering around the world, several people amongst us feel an urgent need to promote compassion and thoughtfulness amongst the general public.

(2) If not, have you done it elsewhere?

Sam> We have not done our video outreach elsewhere, but we are hoping to set up a sister group in another Los Angeles area location.

Mystery Person> We have yet to establish the outreach on an ongoing basis in other locations. We have experimented with it. We will need more equipment before we can commit to doing it in more locations on an ongoing basis. But, we do have some plans that we are working on, that we will update you about in
due course of time.

(3) How have you gotten away with doing the screening, is it permitted?

Sam>As to the question of getting out and setting up on Third Street, that is
officially tolerated. The only possible problem could be the amount of noise
our sound system generates, so we try to respect reasonable decibel limits.

Mystery Person> There are no specific laws prohibiting this form of free communication. One of our volunteers who used to a vegetarian outreach with the same equipment was forcibly shut down once several months ago, on the basis that the screen was violating the allowed dimensions of any equipment that could be used on the promenade. The vegetarian activists knew all along that the main problem they had was with the graphic footage that was being shown
that was completely protected by laws protecting free speech. They followed
up with the police with a little help from legal experts, and though the
issue wasn't completely resolved, the activists continued to do the
outreach in the following weeks (they were on a once every two weeks
schedule) and apparently the police have wisely chosen to not harass them
again about the screen dimensions.

(4) Who else works with you on this project?
Mystery Person> Quite a few people volunteer on an ongoing basis. We do the outreach as the Coalition For World Peace http://CoalitionForWorldPeace.org/ .
Sam> A ragtag group of a half-dozen.
Leone> That's the regulars, but more people drop in to help

(5) What footage do you show and why?

Mystery Person>We show various kinds of footage related to Peace. Some that we would like to mention are:-
Images of innocent victims of the recent US bombings in Afghanistan to tune
of Imagine by John Lennon and some other peace promoting songs. We hope
that the images leaves a lasting impression on the people who see it, and
will make them a little more resistant to all the war mongering, and maybe
help them understand why they need to become active peace activists.
Videos about the last Gulf War and the subsequent impact of economic
sanctions against Iraq. We hope that this will help people see through
George Bush's 'Axis Of Evil' speeches, and not approve of bombing the
innocent people in Iraq on a much larger basis than is currently happening.
A flash animation about an alternative comedic State of The Union speech by
George Bush. A little humor can go a long way with a lot of people at the
promenade.
Some stuff on how liberty and justice that was once upon a time known to be
the essence of America is being degraded further and further by the current
Bush administration.

(6) What are the events goals?

Mystery Person> Depending on who you ask in our outreach team, the answers will range widely. One amongst us hopes that expanding this outreach to change the
minds of the majority of people in cities could mean winning over cities
one by one towards eventually achieving 'world peace'. Some amongst us who
have been peace activists for a long time and have to some extent lost our
idealistic expectations of humanity, but still play a part in promoting
peace, see it as an effective and fun way of getting through to a lot more
people.

Sam>We are hoping for several things. Many who oppose the war in Afghanistan and any extension of the war on terrorism feel that they are alone. just by doing our outreach we are giving these souls some hope. Then there are those who
would like to take action against the Bush administration's policies. We try
to provide these people with information that will focus their energy and
direct it to action. And finally, we sometimes change minds.

(7) I assume that you hang out and talk with people about what they
are seeing? How do people respond?

Sam>We try to talk to anyone who is interested. Conversations range from the
video material to recent headlines to lots of information that never makes
the headlines. We get a range of responses, but most of the people who stop
are sympathetic. Otherwise they probably would not stop.

Leone >We get every kind of response you can imagine! It is especially moving when people from the Middle East thank us for being out there, often saying "God bless you." It is especially horrifying when people brag that they are in
favor of wiping out Iraq or Afghanistan with nukes.( Not to reinforce
stereotypes, but that's usually white males). But the most important work I
think is with people in the middle, who engage in a serious back and forth
with us, and say they agree with some of what we say. They really think about
it.

Every week after we do the outreach, we have dinner together and discuss
the responses we encountered that week, and decide what new literature to
write to address those issues. I think this feedback is invaluable.

(8) What sort of challenge does this war thing give us that say, globalization
protests haven't confronted?

Howard >From 9-11 on, the administration has conducted an aggressive, multi-pronged propaganda assault promoting their so-called War on Terrorism. There's plenty of propaganda on the subject of globalization too, but not to this extent. We should remember, though, that they're both part of the same
problem. Given the horrific conditions that the corporate form of
globalization creates, the only way to impose it is through violence and the
threat of violence.

Leone> It's wonderful being active against corporate globalization because most
people actually agree with us! Sadly, opposing war in our society is an
uphill struggle.

(9) Are their any secrets that you have stumbled upon on how you think we can
turn this thing around?

Howard>Just to keep talking to people and showing them, as graphically as possible, the consequences of their government's actions. And to remember that Presidential approval ratings are a fraud and that, despite the propaganda
onslaught and the attempt to equate dissent with "support for the
terrorists," there are an enormous number of people out there who don't like
what's happening.

Leone>I wish!

(10) What other anti-war stuff have you been up too and how does this project differ from other projects. What ideally are its effects?

Leone> Right now I am involved in another anti-war project, of helping set up
lectures April 13 by Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, a fierce critic
of US policy with a lot of credibility. We are trying to bring Fisk before
different kinds of audiences. I also was part of a constituents visit to my
congressional representative Henry Waxman to talk about peace and civil
liberties. As far as I'm concerned, all these anti-war projects are valuable.
I've seen how just one person in a group of people speaking his or her mind
can make a difference in opening up dialogue, and in a sense giving people
permission to think for themselves and to consider alternatives to the
official story. Only a major turn-around in both public opinion, and in lots
of people feeling empowered to act and organize against US intervention, will
create change. Everything we do is a step toward that. We have to do it
however long it takes--there is no alternative.

(11) Do you have anything else to say?

Leone> Just to urge people to get out and do something, and to do it in small
groups. Experiment. You don't need a demonstration of a thousand people to
act politically. Spreading out could do more.

Howard>"(Governments) inflame patriotism in this way: perpetrating every kind of harshness and injustice against other nations, they provoke in them enmity
towards their own people, and then in turn exploit that enmity to embitter
their people against the foreigner." --Leo Tolstoy, May 10, 1900
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