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BFP Summary of Activities in 2006
Iraq (and Iran??)
How can the U.S. peace movement respond to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine? Phyllis Bennis (Institute for Policy Studies) addressed this question at a Forum on February 21.
What challenges do veterans returning from Iraq face? With Black Veterans for Social Justice, BFP hosted a forum "Back from Iraq: NYC Vets Speak Out!"on March 19. The veterans described the scandalous conditions they face when they return home.
Mobilizing our community in Brooklyn to demonstrate the broad-based public opposition to the war in Iraq, BFP worked with United for Peace and Justice to organize the April 29 National March calling for an end to the war in Iraq, and opposing any attack on Iran. Some 350,000 people marched from Union Square to Foley Square where a Peace and Justice Festival took place.
"Iran: the Next War?" On June 6, four experts on Iran and on U.S. foreign policy explored the views of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, analyzed the Iranian nuclear program and issues of non-proliferation, and assessed the intentions of President Bush and his advisors.
Joining a nationwide Declaration of Peace on September 24, BFP organized a March and Candlelight Vigil to Mourn the Dead in Iraq outside of the home of Senator Charles Schumer, who has consistently supported Bush's war policy. Several vigils (co-sponsored with Code Pink) at the office of Senator Hillary Clinton also protested her support of the Iraq War.
Sharing resources for counter-recruitment was the focus of an event on June 17, engaging educators, students, parents, and community members.
Our leaflets "How to Go to College Without Joining the Military" and "How to Travel and Have Adventures Without Joining the Military" are regularly distributed at Brooklyn public high schools, along with information for students and parents informing them how they can "opt-out" of the school releasing their personal information to military recruiters.
The Fourth Annual Brooklyn Peace Fair on October 22 attracted 2000 attendees and over 150 community groups, arts organizations, performers, and elected officials. The central Brooklyn downtown location (at Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus) encouraged diverse participation.
Sonia Sanchez (poet and activist with the Granny Peace Brigade) and Medea Benjamin (Co-Founder of Code Pink and Global Exchange) shared the podium for the keynote address "Peaceful Resistance to War." TWU President Roger Toussaint and retired Congressman Major Owens also gave inspiring remarks. Borough President Marty Markowitz declared October 22 "Brooklyn Peace Day."
The Youth Peace Contest allowed more than 250 Brooklyn students to share their thoughts on peace through art, essays and rap.
"Trick or Treat for UNICEF" engaged more Brooklyn schools this year, in our campaign to foster international awareness and social responsibility among elementary school children.
Olive Branch Olive Oil (from West Bank Palestinian farmers) sold like hotcakes out of BFP's office. Sales help support the Palestinian economy, while allowing Brooklynites to enjoy and share this delicious Fair Trade olive oil.
Palestinian Hekmat Bassisso Naji shared her perspective on conditions in Israel-Palestine based on her personal experience in Gaza and the West Bank. U.S. student Anna Balzer recounted her eye-witness reports of conditions in the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian territories. Artist Seth Tobocman also presented his comic book, Three Cities Against the Wall: Palestinian, Israeli And American Artists Protest in Three Cities.
In response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, BFP organized a march through Fulton Mall followed by a rally at Borough Hall, calling for an immediate cease-fire.
Speakers from the Darfur community in Brooklyn shared information on the genocide in Darfur, addressing the question of what we can do to help.
Working with the Darfur Rehabilitation Project and the Darfur People's Association, we are conducting an ongoing drive for clothing, dried milk, and school supplies for internally displaced Darfurians in refugee camps. The response by Brooklyn neighbors to this call has been overwhelming!
With Brooklyn-based Darfurians, we have visited the UN missions of countries serving on the Security Council, as well as the Saudi Mission, calling on them to respond to the situation.
A Brooklyn contingent participated in the Save Darfur Rally in Washington, DC, on April 30, as well as in the September 17 Rally in Central Park which an estimated 20,000 people attended.
A forum entitled, "Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise (and Demise?) of the New Imperialism," featuring Professor Greg Grandin, initiated our educational outreach in this area.
(Our Latin America Committee formed in 2008)
"War No More" is our once-monthly show on Brooklyn Community Access Television (BCAT), making our forums and programs available to those who could not be there in person. These programs are also available on DVD.
Fund-Raising and Community-Building
Generous support of foundations and individuals makes our work possible. Support has been provided this year by Independence Community Foundation, Con Edison, Emigrant Savings Bank, NY State Office of Children and Family Services, and the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute.
An Evening of Bertolt Brecht Songs at the Old Stone House, Summer Sunset on the Barge at BargeMusic (featuring poet Sapphire, and honoring former board member Charles Horwitz,)and performance by vocalist Veronica Nunn at Food-4-Thought Cafe in Stuyvesant Heights helped build our community and culture of peace, while raising funds and providing fun!
We provided opportunities for young people to engage in a concrete and practical way with our peace and justice work by offering opportunities for volunteers (particularly high school students with community service requirements, as well as energetic retirees) and interns (who receive a modest stipend).
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