Why We Are Taking to the Streets

Direct Action to Stop the War invites all people to join us in an act of conscience using civil disobedience to send a message to the Bush administration and the international community that there are Americans who do not support this war.

Our reasons are both deeply moral and patently pragmatic:

  • Attacking Iraq will not make us safe. Rather, as the Bush administration has admitted, this pre-emptive attack will exacerbate existing anti-American sentiment abroad and inspire more acts of terrorism at home.

  • Unilateral action without U.N. authority and the support of our allies erodes the vision and potential for global democracy. We believe in a world based on diplomacy and mutual respect within a community of diverse nations. We believe relationships among communities and allies enhance personal and global security, safety and environmental sustainability.

  • The children of Iraq will suffer disproportionately in a military action.

    Half of the people in Iraq are under the age of 16. Due to 12 years of economic sanctions, these young people are already victims of hunger and poor health, and they stand to suffer disproportionately in this military action.

  • The "shock and awe" military strategy of the U.S. government could pummel Iraqi civilians. U.S. bombs may hit targets that threaten the precarious lives of civilians in Iraq -- power facilities, water storage, hospitals. We do not believe we can liberate people by bombing them.

  • Billions spent on this war are being robbed from our children's education, our economically disempowered communities and our elderly.

We stand opposed to the attacks on civil liberties and the racism that underlie the detentions of Americans of Arab descent and round-ups of immigrant friends and neighbors. We believe a realignment of priorities is critical, and we must heed the call of communities at home that demand resources.

We believe that to support our troops means bringing them home alive. We believe that silence is agreement.

We have tried traditional avenues of influence. We have lobbied our politicians. We have marched in permitted rallies millions strong. We have signed petitions, prayed and held vigils for a peaceful solution. We have broadcast pleas from the Iraqi people to stave off the looming war against them and their families. Yet these pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and none of our efforts have proven successful.

We must now use what remains of our democratic heritage: the right to use nonviolent civil disobedience in the tradition of the Boston Tea Party, the women's suffragette movement and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. We are aware that our attempts to shut down the Financial District will inconvenience many people. While we and others may suffer disruptions and lost wages on this one day, ask yourself, "What is a human life worth? What are the lives of thousands of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians worth?"

We feel strongly that any inconvenience on this day is dwarfed by the horror of death that will be experienced around the world during this time and beyond. We feel a moral imperative to demonstrate to the Bush administration and to the world that Americans are willing to risk their own freedom and their own comfort to confront the atrocities being committed in our names.

We invite business leaders, workers, students and others to close their doors for the day and join us in the streets. We are people from all walks of life and all political backgrounds. We are families, workers, business people, artists, activists, community organizers and people of faith. We come with diverse political perspectives, but we stand together with one voice to say no to war. When democracy has failed us in our government, we must take democracy to the streets.

We hope you commit to act in the name of peace. We hope you join us.

Father Louis Vitale is pastor of St. Boniface Church in San Francisco's Tenderloin District. Sister Bernie Galvin heads Religious Witness with Homeless People. The Web site for Direct Action to Stop the War is www.actagainstwar.org.

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