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Images: A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition Press Conference

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition Press Conference

As one of the many media representatives at today’s press conference said, prefacing a question to Cindy Sheehan: “This is Petraeus Week in Washington; this is a hard sell.” He was referring to the September 15 “Mass March and Die-In” the A.N.S.W.E.R. * Coalition was announcing in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

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Cindy Sheehan and Carlos Arredondo of Gold Star Families for Peace, and Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition.

Carlos Arredondo, whose son Alex, a Marine, died in Iraq in 2004, had brought his US passport to emphasise that the words on the inside cover say “We the People” and that “we the people have a tremendous responsibility to the rest of the world,” a sentiment echoed later by Cindy Sheehan, who said that “If America is healthy, if America truly practises democracy, then the whole world will benefit.”

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Carlos Arredondo

Two other themes stood out. One was that the forceful arrest of Rev. Lennox Yearwood on Monday when he was trying to get into the Petraeus-Crocker hearing on Capitol Hill is being looked at by the antiwar movement as a seminal moment that will help drive support for this Saturday’s March and Die-in. Yearwood was physically supported by two fellow Iraq Veterans Against the War when he spoke at the conference, his leg having been broken in Monday’s fracas. A video of his arrest is posted on YouTube.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, CEO and President of the Hip Hop Caucus

The second strong theme was the significance of the Die-In, which will be a mass act of civil disobedience. Prompted by a question from Fox News, Brian Becker--the event coordinator--said a thousand people have so far signed up to take part in the Die-In and he expects that number to double or triple over the next few days. “We hope to trigger in the country a new model of protest,” Becker stated.

A Cybercast News Service journalist asked what kind of impact A.N.S.W.E.R. thinks the likely mass arrests of the Die-In participants will have on middle Americans who are at best only lukewarm towards the protest movement. Tina Richards, of Grassroots America, said that she’s from a little tiny town in the Ozarks and has found no trouble in gaining the support of people from middle America. She noted that it’s often the rank and file membership of organizations such as labour unions who show their support first, with organizational support coming later.

Tina Richards, whose experience of fighting against her son’s reactivation and deployment to Iraq for a third time led her to create Grassroots America.

* Note: A.N.S.W.E.R. is the abbreviation for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.


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