Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

ONE MORE NIGHT

We did another all-nighter. Things began yesterday at noon with a picket line outside the office of Sen. Susan Collins in Portland. TV channel 13 showed up and interviewed me live at the top of the noon news with our protesting crew in the background. Very nice. I kept saying that we need folks to call the politicians.

We stayed on the streets for several hours and handed out over 700 leaflets. People began sitting in the office about 2:30 pm and I remained outside holding a sign and leafletting until about 4:30. By 6:00 we had 17 people inside and wrote the statement just below and had it sent out over the email to folks around Maine.

At 10:00 pm the police arrived and threatened (very nicely though) to arrest those of us who did not leave. Several left and the photo above, of those willing to risk arrest, was taken by a very friendly policewoman. By 10:30 the police were outside negotiating with someone and decided not to arrest us. Instead they posted one cop inside the inner office and said we could stay the night.

All during this time we had the TV on in the small office waiting room where we were sitting in and I was watching the Boston Red Sox - Baltimore Orioles (my team) baseball game. The Orioles won in a dramatic fashion with a grand slam late in the game. The sound on the TV was muted but I was content.

Before the game came on we sang every peace song we could think of and several folks shared readings, including one profound excerpt from the George Orwell's book 1984.

In the end, as an organizer, I recognize that Sen. Collins will continue to vote for the Iraq occupation funding and that it will be incredibly difficult to move her from that position. But we know that 70% of the American people want us to leave Iraq. So it is not really about convincing the public of our position. Instead it is about getting the public to (1) Know this war supplemental to the tune of $178 billion is about to be voted on. Most people have no clue and the media is not saying much about it. (2) Helping motivate people enough to pick up the phone, pick up a sign, or just talk to others about this issue and act to help stop this endless war.

So our action in the office is really a public participatory drama that is intended to draw people emotionally/intellectually into the issue in hopes that they will break out of their blind participation in the daily grind long enough to come alive and do something to help make a difference.

I am told the piece they used on TV 13's evening news had me talking about how Maine's share of the Iraq war money could have been used in our state for positive purposes. So all this effort in recent days paid off with us having that bit of a time slot on TV to put out that message. Since we don't have the $$$$ to buy TV time, this is how we have to do it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. On we go.


This letter was composed by a group of 17 Mainers from throughout the state while in the office of Sen. Susan Collins on May 14.

We are joined tonight in a united purpose: to remain in Sen. Collins office on the 14th and the 15th of May to represent the vast majority of Mainers who want the Iraq Occupation to end, and who want the troops to return home now.

The Iraq war was a premeditated criminal act. Neither further funding nor continuing the occupation should be allowed. This war embodies the most serious of war crimes: crimes against the Iraqi people, and our own American soldiers. The cost is extreme in terms of human suffering, creating two million war refugees in addition to the 2.5 million Iraqis who are displaced in country.

In addition, this war creates suffering for our own people at home. Many of our own residents have no food, no heat, no jobs, and inadequate health care.

We want our tax dollars back in our own state and country to rebuild our own communities.

Any further Iraq funding should go only toward military withdrawal, reconstruction, and reparations -- not continued military presence. It is immoral and unconscionable to make Iraqis pay for the reconstruction.

Just as Sen. Collins is responsible for her acts, we are responsible to remind her of a previous statement to end this war. We urge Sen. Collins, as our elected representative, to vote against any further funding of the Occupation of Iraq.

We urge people to spread the message of our resistance and take action to help to bring an end to this atrocity, to this madness.

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