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Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006 at 7:44 PM
301.270.2355 Takoma Park, MD
Rev. Yearwoods' message: It is time for decent folks who care about the people of the Gulf Coast to come together and become Voters for Peace. Tell the politicans to bring the troops and resources home to the Gulf Coast where they are desperately needed.
Pictured above: Dr. Rashad Zaydan of Baghdad, Iraq; Rev. Lennox Yearwood; Hurricane Katrina survivor Bilal Moran of Gretna, Louisiana. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Remember Katrina by Voting for Peace:
Bring our troops and resources home to the Gulf Coast
By Rev. Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus & Institute
On Thursday, June 17, 2004, the Hip Hop Summit Action Network of which I was the National Political and Grassroots Director, held the New Orleans Hip Hop Summit. The idea of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network was simple - it was time for young people to control their destiny by getting out the vote because the policies that were enacted by those in office have a tremendous impact on their lives. The theme for that year was "Vote or Die." We had no idea that the mandate "Vote or Die" represented a literal truth.
Nine days before the New Orleans Hip Hop Summit was held Walter Maestri, Emergency Management Chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, made this statement in the New Orleans Times-Picayune about the fact that there was no money in the budget to complete the levees:
"It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us." (June 8, 2004)
President George W. Bush would be reelected on November 2, 2004. Hurricane Katrina would hit the Gulf Coast and destroy New Orleans on August 29, 2005.
March 1, 2006, a video released by the Associated Press definitively revealed that the President lied to the people about his knowledge of the danger to the residents of New Orleans. With advance warning about the imminent risk of massive flooding and inadequate preparation for the disaster, the President failed to act to protect the citizens of the Gulf Coast region, and then lied about what he knew to salvage his credibility.
While we could not stop Hurricane Katrina from hitting the Gulf Coast, if people had voted with an idea of peace and not war, we could have stopped Hurricane George from hitting our shores.
The next days will mark the first anniversary of one of the most devastating natural - and manmade - calamities in the nation's history. For a few days, at least, the pain and tragedy of Katrina will be revisited by the nation's media - families clinging to rooftops pleading for help, bodies floating on water, thousands in stifling heat herded without food, water, and sanitation into the Superdome and Convention Center while government officials claimed to know nothing about the growing disaster.
Over the past year, promises of government funds to rebuild homes and repair shattered lives have largely disappeared in a maze of red tape. The cronyism, corruption and ineptitude that marked the early days of the flood linger as thousands of temporary mobile homes sat unoccupied for months while many homeless flood victims were being removed from emergency housing. Contractors and builders connected to the Bush administration grabbed land and enriched themselves while homeowners were far away and powerless to challenge such fateful actions.
The tragedy that unfolded one year ago in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast was inseparably connected to the historic legacies of racism and class discrimination compounded by the Iraq war and the corporate-government assault on the living standards of working people. Because of deployment to Iraq, nearly a half of Gulf Region National Guard troops were not available to assist the victims of Katrina. With expenditures for Iraq approaching a half-trillion dollars and with billions more allocated to spurious "home security", agencies responsible for the real security of populations trapped by Katrina were both under-funded and saddled by inept Bush cronies.
In a very real sense, Katrina's victims were also casualties of the Iraq war. The Katrina anniversary should mark growing demands to end that war, and to come home and attend to urgent unmet domestic needs. In this election year, those outraged by Katrina should stand up and be counted. One way to be counted is to sign the VotersForPeace Pledge promising to withhold your vote from pro-war candidates.
The only way to get positive movement in Washington is for there to be unified citizen outcry. It is on us to hold the politicians in D.C. accountable. It is time for decent folks who care about the people of the Gulf Coast to come together and become Voters for Peace. Voting for peace is not just about ending war abroad, it is also about ending the assault on the working poor and people of color in our country.
* * * * *
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. is CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus & Institute in Washington, D.C., the National Director for the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign, and Co-Director of Cities for Progress. The Hip Hop Caucus is a national and international coalition established to promote social and political equality. Cities for Progress is a unique, multi-city network uniting diverse communities of grassroots activists with progressive, locally elected officials to advance campaigns for racial justice, a humane and equitable economy, and an end to the war in Iraq.
6930 Carroll Ave., Suite 240
Takoma Park, MD 20912
Copyright 2006 VotersForPeace.US & Rev. Yearwood
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