Saturday afternoon panel - How militarism affects our lives
A go-round of introductions asks, "How long people have been in resistance" and most people named groups they are active with or got them active
• Started with G-8 in Georgia
• Permacultrue in Maine
• Quaker & activist/pacisit 50 years; 1040 resister – file & refuses to pay; suing government for 2008 taxes
• Veterans for Peace and Occupy
• National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, 1040forpeace, WTR since 1972
• WTR started 20 years ago
• Poet/resister/activist since 1979
• Leaflets year around against taxes; 911 was not the Arabs
• Exploring options for WTR
• Began in 1982 after meeting Wally and Juanita Nelson
• 10 years WTR
• Tries to live under taxable income
• WTR since 1972
• Permaculture; finds herself not as nonviolent as she used to be;
• Live simply off grid, WTR since 1989 living under taxable income
• Slid into it10 years ago; got depressed around April 14 and started to change that
• Earlham Quaker doing research on WTR concern among Quakers – historical and current
• Learning and thinking about WTR – this is my 2nd gathering
• About 10 years WTR, intentional community, low income simple living; nonfiling
• Just hearing about it and looks forward to learning from us all
• Supports WTR, resisters since mid-70s, Mennonite church, need to convert the church, if those who believe in Jesus would stop paying for war then "whoosh", plagued by IRS;
• 1984 lat time she paid; joined vigil information front of White House; stopped working for money and started working for peace (Prop 1)
• Farmer – good for the soul; WTR — good for the conscience
• Started 1 year ago, Quaker, put $$ in escrow
• Started in 1969 as WTR, file & refused to pay half with his wife
• Started in 1990, April 15 is her favorite day of year
• Started when son was killed in Iraq; has had visit from IRS; when her son was killed she was ashamed she ever paid
• Not a WTR but it's so impressive the people here
• Helped to start the group here
• 911 conspiracy; in Army in 60s and then resolved he could never support the US government
Gary – leafleting on Boulder mall; interviewed by Free Speech News guy – long interview, short story [linked on NWTRCC tax day page]
Karl – buying plants, block group
Joffre – At about 10:02 am, anti-tax day, Brad Lyttle was setting up speak system in Federal Plaza Chicago and talking to one Conway, who was working to get taxes paid, rather than unpaid, by petitioning for bill in Congress to gett off-shored corporations to pay (for war; etc). Brad wanted to me to go on mic to speak for them, rather than against. I refused. By 10:07 I was leafleting and continuued until I ran out around 4:29 pm. In time about 6 others joined us, including Kathy Kelly taking a turn on mic. I stuck with lealeting and was not best siutated to hear all said but heard no consideration made of Palestine.... Too much was said about war being senseless. AFSC did not turn out in force. Around 1:37 pm Brad bid me to "Go with G-d: as I remained after others had left. I passed out 815 leaflets plus 11 to people at Rosalie Riegle's book signing 90 minutes later. Good discussion at book signing.
David Waters interviewed on local TV station [linked on NWTRCC tax day page]
Ruth reported on the NYC action [on NWTRCC tax day page]
Pam – filled out her tax forms; opened desk drawer, stuck them in and closed it
Daniel – vigil at Burlington, NC, post office – first time people there had seen any such protest – Others had "Bring our war dollars home" banner and Daniel handed out pie charts
Peter Smith – handed out flyers during lunch hour downtown; media truck drove to his house [linked on NWTRCC tax day page]
Bill – a previous action – took tax forms and printed on shadow image of coffin back from Iraq and coffin then re-disbursed them. Would the frivolous apply to that? Wouldn't' guarantee anymore
Cindy - pulls out the forms for recruiters and throws them out; a friend wrote something on all the cards and put them back; if you throw away the cards how many will not get the card? You don't know what the ripple effect would be
Steve - takes letter to IRS office explaining why he can't pay and telling them what would get him to pay. He has a list – they call his letter "scribbles". He has been threatened with $5000 frivolous fine. So the next time he says he has to apologize for not giving his letter and explanations; the IRS doesn't want to hear from him anymore.
Redmoonsong – writes "peace now" on money. Tells kids to "break the law everyday" with some little act.
Jason – thinking of making outhouses with tax resisted $$ but also saw this peace garden here in Ahseville & is taking ideas back about that.
Amy of BeLoved Community Center – Amy told stories of five people who came to BeLoved. She showed their pictures and talked of the lives of homeless people lost due to "living poor and because of that budget." David was a Korean war vet who always wore his war vets hat. He could not live with the carnage of that war and drank himself through life and into death. Ricky was disabled but had to take a hard labor job in heat of summer doing asphault work. His medication was not good for sun, which led to his death.
Her talk was about the flesh and bones victims of what this budget is doing to us.
Head Start cuts, Senior Citizen soup kitchen cuts, day care cuts, 2-year waiting list for job, etc.
Amy says, "We are starving for justice and for peace in this country, literally. We see the direct impact of militarism every day in our friends, in the people who come to our house."
Ed of Earth First — Not speaking for the movement, but he came from a group at a camp and asked for ideas on how militarism has effected them. One talked about occupying a commercial building in Chapel Hill that was empty for years. Occupiers put it to use, until one day the swat team showed up – body armor, armored vehicle, rifles – came into building to stop yoga class with weapons pointed. The militarization of the police – these people funded in trained and equipped by the military. In their movement they are no strangers to heavy handed tactics at nonviolent civil disobedience blockades. People expected to jail, but don't expect people to show up using chemical weapons on you. The tremendous funding into local law enforcement and experiencing more intimidation; law enforcement that is now seeing them as domestic terrorists. Used to be "eco terrorists."
All of this is worse since Sept. 11. Some people said "green is the new red" – red scare of 50s, now it's the "threat" from eco activists. When you challenge capitalism and corporations they now perceive it as a direct threat to security. It sounds ludicrous to blockaders but it is happening. All this is completely out of proportion to what the activists are trying to do. We are not anti-people we are pro-environment. In a capitalist society that only values the environment for what can be withdrawn from it, that is the priority. Now we are expecting drones; the Forest Service might use drones ostensibly to look for other things. Watch what is happening in Texas with the pipeline activists. Ex-military are working as private security and bringing those tactics against the activists.
Dwayne Martin – BeLove – recited a poem that included these lines:
We are love
through peace and unity
In unity we trust
War and militarism has gotten me into art and poetry. Art is therapy especially when the boot has been on you for a while, the boot of law enforcement. He grew up in southeast DC and remembers helicopters that flew thru the neighborhood with spotlight on a regular basis - the constant presence of being checked by the police. "We keep the police in practice in our community," he says. When you see other young people go down, art has saved me from that. I'm doing art specifically about peace, about the environment. When you are trying to eat and have the police on you and so many other institutional pressures, "a tree and a frog just don't seem that important." Thru art and music and poetry we can show that it is all connected. People walk by the community garden we put out information and people walk by and they see how it is all connected. They see how we can do better. Working with young people and see what influences them, go in a toy story and see all the guns. When I was young I loved GI Joe. Those things come back and haunt us as a community and a nation.
Sarah – Firestorm Café and Books — talked about their worker owned collective, the horizontal decision-making, consensus process, democratic, everyone's voice is heard. Militarism is so pervasive and apparent every day. Within their space it is not so apparent. Their structure is based on mutualism and respect. Growing up in this society we are not encouraged to participate in those kinds of systems through our education system to organizations like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We are taught to be subservient or dominate, we are taught hierarchy. With the collective we are trying to set an example of mutualism and respect. Provide a library, workshops on decision making and how the collective operates, management teams, skills training, etc. We are members of a union and communicate with a national org for worker cooperatives.
Or, here are rough notes from her talk by Ruth Benn — these notes follow the talk pretty closely and include a lot of direct quotes, but they are not edited and not precise so don't blame Cindy for some confusion.
Thanks to Fools of Conscience, thanks to NWTRCC, thanks to everyone who is here who does work for peace and justice
Feels like a choir member preaching to the pastors, most here have been doing it [war tax resistance] more than I have. Everyone here has their story to tell.
Working for things you don't need, commuting 3 hours for your job, to buy things you don't need - if you are not in the rat race then there's something wrong with you. She thinks of it as a hamster wheel, running so fast that you can't get off. Now that I'm not in that I think "what kind of life is that" – consuming, wasting, poisoning – that is considered normal. People like us are considered crazy, "a moron," bat-shit crazy is something people like to call me.
I look at these people and wonder is that what life is. Constant toil for our society for the people who own, slaves … if you want to jump off the hamster wheel it's really a hard thing to do. Hamsters run and then fly off. That's what happens in our society. There are so few people like us. I didn't fall off my hamster wheel, I was violently pushed off the hamster wheel by the death of my son. Not just pushed but the fact that my son died for lies, for invading and occupying another country. He had no issue with Iraq. They say "poor boys fightin rich man's wars." So that's what Casey was doing. I was shoved off my hamster wheel and I didn't have a safety net.
When I first became a WTR it was all because of Casey. They killed him for lies, there was no reason he should be dead. If he was killed for this country, then I can't pay another penny for this country. To the people who killed Casey he has no value. Not just the warmongers but the owners of society. The workers individually have no value. It's only when we work collectively together and become a threat to the bottom line, then we have value.
Someone that I thought was so precious, so valuable, how can you put a value on human life. They come and tell you your son was killed, they give you a check for $12,0000. now they've increased it to $100,000. That's hush money. We know he died, bu there's the medals and the check now go away and grieve in private. That's what most people do, but that's not the way that I chose to go. They call it a death benefit, and after I screamed on the floor they asked for my social security number. I can't tell you what I told them…
I got pushed off the hamster wheel. I got divorced because my husband wanted to climb back on the hamster wheel. He wanted us to go back to "normal" again. I knew from the beginning that whatever our life was going to look like, it was not going to look anything like before Casey was killed. There's no way we can go back to April 3. We have to move forward and maybe we can forge something that is just as good without Casey in it, but I could not get back on that wheel.
I lost my friends after Casey was killed because they supported George Bush. They supported him because he is pro-life. She asked them "are you telling me he's pro-birth" because he is not alive anymore.
I looked for people like you. I'm about overthrowing the government.
What they hate the most is when you are not afraid of them. When the IRS caught up with me, it took them 7 years to find me. I'm famous and it took them 7 years to find me. I have a website. Almost every movement I make is on my website, so they could find out where I am.
Sent an email to NWTRCC – extremely helpful to have a network. To be with people like you, to share experiences. After I did go to the IRS and after I did sit down with them, it was nothing. After it happened it was "nothing."
I don't know if all of you know my experience, but it was wonderful. I've been on trial many times and been in court and been on trial many many times. And you go on trial and you feel very righteous and it's what my son died for and we have a constitution and the cops broke the law and the judge says "I really don't care about that."
I had a jury once and they acquitted us.
I had this hearing in federal court. It was not political prosecution. It was in Sacramento, and they only send 3 US attorneys from Washington DC. My attorney is not a tax attorney, he is an activist attorney. He sued the city of SF when they killed Judi Bari. He's a wonderful activist lawyer. Peter Goldberger who helps advice WNTRCC helped advise us.
Dozens of people came to support us at the federal building in Sacramento. The magistrate allowed her attorney to go on and on and on about why I don't pay my taxes. He talked about war crimes, torture, military spending, the fact that corporation get ruunds when they profit off of war. The magistrate looked at me straight in the eye and said "that looks like a reasonable response to something that happened to you."
My revenue agent was sitting there 9wanted to moon him) because I knew I had won.
US attorney says "Your honor we compel Cindy to respond." The judge was ready for lunch and didn't feel inclined to make me respond and said he would decide in 45 days, but he never did.
It's the first time anyone from this government acknowledged that what I was doing was right.
Shortly after that, after they went looking for her millions, I got a notice that was one line that "we are withdrawing the subpoena." One line from the Justice Dept.
We are not trying to hide anything, we have blogs, websites, FB pages – there is nothing to hide. You don't have to go digging around in our lives, it's none of your business.
I'm still resisting, I'll always resist.
This is how I found out that I was being persecuted by the federal government [she tells the story of being out to dinner in Vacaville when a reporter came up to ask about the lawsuit that the federal government has against you.]
Feels now "I never should have paid 1 penny to this federal government. It's not about my son. Whatever I do I'm not brining him back. What it's about is preventing it form happening to other people.. Absent the total collapse of empire, I don't see this nation becoming a nation where I'll be willing to pay my taxes.
I have a lot of libertarian friends, who keep telling me that you have to start saying that taxes are illegal. They say tax is theft from individuals. She sees "tax is theft form the poor, from society." I'm not against taxation, I live in this community, I live in this society. I'm just against what they go for.
WTR, I talk about it a lot, I write about it a lot. Work for a time to be willing to pay her taxes.
Goes to the library a lot. Can't thank you enough for providing a quiet place with wifi. She gave them a donation. Woman says "you don't have to do that, you pay your taxes," and Cindy says I don't. But that's what it's about, paying for the things that we use. I like to donate to things that I like, like libraries.
Tour de Peace – started on April 4 in Vacaville. Also MLK's assassination day. It's a significant day in my life and in our history. MLK at Riverside church a year before he was killed. The problems here are racism, militarism, and poverty. Nothing has changed in those 40 years. Maybe that stuff has gotten worse. Racism is a hard topic for all of us white people to talk about. 9-11 is a day that changed America – maybe for middle class white people, but this country was founded on slavery, etc.
Tour de Peace – biking to DC – California is super-duper long. We're going on route 66 – it's awesome!!! It's amazing to see the culture that has arisen around a road." Then they built the interstate and if it passed a town then that town died. But you can see the decadence of that culture biking down route 66. Old model T's rusting in a field. Old cars along the way.
Will take route 66 up to Chicago – started on 66 at Santa Monica at the Vets for peace memorial of everyone killed in these wars. I recommend biking across the country to everyone. Start right now. Will be in DC July 3 – have a convergence on the White House. "Washed up Deceipt" - biking in, presenting a petition, and leaving. Not about the destination but about the journey – meeting with people in these small and large towns. Trying to convince them that not only is the empire a problem but that maybe they should look at their own lifestyles too. Riding a bike is trying to tell people that our addiction to fossil fuel is killing the planet. We know that the military is the worse polluter, but we have to take responsibility for the amount of fossil fuels that we use, to wean ourselves away from that.
I work for Peace. I'm known as the peace mom. But I think the issue of the environment has to be the #1 issue that we address. We cant' just have protest in DC, we have to be everywhere addressing this issue. Everywhere they want to frack, every off shore drilling place, "clean coal,' nuclear power.
We're talking about the issues of war and peace, sustainable energy, I've been on the bandwagon about bike lanes – I've been on some really crap roads. They've made it so we have to be dependent on cars and fossil fuels.
Another major issue is "stop the prosecution of whistle blowers." Not even prosecuting but persecuting. Obama has already declared Manning is guilty. He says he's guilty. Flies down to Dallas to congratulate George Bush for being such a great leader after 9-11. We can't have peace without accountability and none of our war leaders have been held accountable for war.
Nixon – break in
Clinton – "not for wars"
Bush may not be president but my son is still dead. A couple million people are still dead. Obama won't do it because he's afraid the next president might hold him accountable.
"Professional courtesy." They watch each other's backs.
Being principled activists no matter who is in office. The one thing I honor NWTRCC for - being activists based on principle and not politics. When I was in Crawford TX – hard to get there. I'm going to go wherever he is, I'm going to demand what noble cause my son died for. No idea where Crawford was. TX is big. You can drive for days and still be in TX.
Never thought I'd spend so much time in TX.
Crawford – 3 hrs south west of Dallas or 2 1/1 from Austin – 17,000 people managed to find us that summer. How many are riding bikes with me – 0. have a couple support guys and a van. For some the wars became acceptable on Jan. 20, 2009, to me they have never been acceptable. Some said he's the peace president. "he said he's send more troops to Afghanistan. He said he's not against war, I'm against stupid wars. Everyone who said they were against Bush's war should have said "all wars how stupid."
He's in office 1 year and he gets the Noble Peace Prize. We have a peace president who is bombing 8 Arab countries. 30 countries in Africa. Decimating Libya and Syria with their proxy rebels. "No fly zone" is code for "we're going to bomb the crap out of them" – when they announced the no fly zone.
Evil dictator name just changes. They change the country names too. I care about the people of Libya. I don't want the U.S. and NATO killing 10s of thousands of them.
Even if you go and vote, that's the least amount of your responsibility. We have to back up our votes with action. Has to be principled action. Obama ordered first zone strike 3 days after he was in office. "didn't take him very long to become a war criminal." When from about 170,000 on her list. Then 60,000. now 1800 on her list. They are really good 1800. People say "give him a chance."
Obama just put Assata Shakur on their most wanted terrorist list. So anyone who supports her can be on their list for coming into your home and taking your stuff… or something. They could send a drone to Cuba to kill her. That's what they do. I have a special place n my heart for Cuba – this country ahs been trying to overthrow Cuba for 50 years. But there is little outcry. Little outcry against him having a kill list. Little outcry against him continuing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Heard that Monsanto bought Blackwater – protests again GMO – how are we going to stop that
Bush fans who don't like Obama doesn't make sense. He's doing the same thing that bush did – you should support him. They call him a socialist – I say "I wish."
I might need an intervention because I'm going to run for public office again, even though I said I would never do that. I'm going to run for Governor of California. I want to bring these issues. I want to talk about these things that really matter. The media shut me down, the rules shut me down. Candidates should be forced to debate their opponent.
War steals money from the poor. I'd go to occupy and say I agree 100% with you student debt should be forgiven because all education should be free. I agree that we need Medicare for all – everyone in nobody out – a system that supports health, not that promotes and perpetuates disease. How are we going to do this – you have to start talking about this – it's not that there are no resources, it's that the resources are misdirected. For a fraction of that we can have everything I just mentioned. We could have a society that I would be proud to support. If we ended war, if we closed all the bases around the world –
The first thing you should be saying is end the wars, close the bases, stop murdering people, and bring the resources back home. Reparations for people in Iraq, afghan, Vietnam, but bring that money home. If we create a better country here the planet will be better. People outside the US say "we don't get to vote for your president and it's not fair. Your country has a detrimental effect on this whole planet."
We have to work for our core values and do what is right. I don't care if no one is watching me, I do what is right.
My revenue agent told my lawyer why does she have to be so vocal about it and I said why would I do it if I was not vocal about it.
Whether a big splash or a ripple that goes onto infinity – we need to build the diverse movement, including everyone. It's not that people don't have power. Here in the US we are afraid to see that we have power because if we recognize it then we have to act. Voting isn't enough. We know what is best for us. Until we organize to make sure that we exist in a healthy community, nothing is going to change.
Followed by Q & A at this point
Slides from David Gross's presentation about the 14th International Conference on WTR and Peace Tax Campaigns in Bogotá, Colombia (or see the written reports for more detail)
How to identify and reach out to diverse varieties of war tax resister: Slides from David Gross's counseling workshop presentation
More coming soon!