Bruce Gagnon / GNAW&NPS – 2005-02-07 09:04:13
(February 4, 2005) — Today I joined with 16 other peace activists from Mid-coast and Southern Maine as we occupied the Portland office of Sen. Olympia Snowe (Republican) for five hours.
People representing Peace Action Maine and Veterans for Peace sat in the office of Sen. Snowe and read the names of 1,440 American soldiers who have died in Iraq.
In addition, we read the names of an equal number of Iraqi civilians who have been killed since the start of the US invasion and occupation. (We were not sure if we would be arrested but three of us were determined to stay even if threatened with arrest. As it turned out, we were not threatened with arrest.)
As we entered the office, one of our group read a prepared statement to the staff of Sen. Snowe. The statement included the following:
We oppose the US war in Iraq because we first feel that it is an illegal war that was sold to the public based on a lie. It has led to mass chaos and even the CIA has reported in recent weeks that the situation is worsening and will continue to do so.
We call on Sen. Snowe to speak out now against the war by calling for a cut in funding for the war and to bring all US troops home immediately. Growing numbers of American oppose the war (50% think it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq, Gallup Poll January 12). The cost of the war (over $5 billion per month) is leading to huge debt in the U.S. and will ultimately help to cripple the U.S. economy.
We remind the senator that human needs programs like education, health care, home heating assistance, public transportation, and child care will have to be cut in order to pay for the quagmire in Iraq.
We respectfully request a statewide public meeting with the senator at her earliest convenience so that people in the community can raise their heartfelt concerns with her.
Two local Portland-area TV stations and two local radio stations gave extensive coverage to the protest. This was the second such office occupation that the two groups have now organized.
Last month 13 people held an occupation of Maine’s other Republican Senator, Susan Collins, and read names of American and Iraqi dead.
In March, the groups intend to hold a similar occupation of Rep Tom Allen’s (D-ME) office. While Allen voted against the war he has been reluctant to publicly show strong leadership against the current occupation and the massive wasteful expenditures of tax dollars in Iraq.
Bruce K. Gagnon is the Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011, (207) 729-0517, (207) 319-2017 (Cell phone)