[pjw] REPORT BACK: "No More Excuses, Shut Down Guantanamo!" Friday rally #42 under stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Jan 9 17:13:53 EST 2021

Hi again peace and justice works supporters

Last night at our special event to mark 19 years since the opening of the 
US prison at Guantanamo Bay, we had six people at the Friday rally for 
peace and justice, five of whom went on the march. Two people were from 
the copsonsoring groups (PJW and Amnesty International Group 48) and are 
not "regulars." We had dry weather and mostly positive feedback. The theme 
was "No More Excuses, Shut Down Guantanamo!" Though a few people said 
things like "keep it open," others said things like "I'm glad people 
remember Guantanamo is still there."

For the announcements I talked about the history of the prison camp, with 
a side note not to go into the imperialist history of why the US has 
access to land in Cuba. I talked about how after 9/11 they captured people 
and put out bounties for others to turn in those they suspected of aiding 
Al Qaida, but since most weren't guilty of anything the population of over 
700 was down to 41 when Trump took office four years ago. He only released 
one prisoner. The good news is he didn't "fill it up with bad guys" as he 

When we created the name for the event, "No More Excuses," we had no idea 
that the Senate would be flipped to put the Democrats in charge. Some 
think this could lead to more releases and maybe the closing of the 
prison. The population has been aging and they had to build wheelchair 
ramps. I noted that the oldest prisoner there is 73.


I once again reminded people of the upcoming event on Tuesday with author 
Sarah Mirk talking about her graphic non-fiction book "Guantanamo Voices."


We then moved on to other current events here and abroad.

--There was the horrifying white supremacist invasion of the Capitol, 
which I noted puts peace advocates in a tough situation. We don't want to 
encourage the state to use more violence especially given that the police 
shot and killed a woman. But also, apparently a protestor bashed a capitol 
police officer over the head with a fire extinguisher leading to the 
officer's death.


I feel that we can trace the mob action back to the US' response to 9/11 
and resolving problems with violence instead of going to the international 
community and seeking to arrest those responsible.

Meanwhile, in Portland the Mayor called for harsher penalties for people 
who do property damage, and to loosen the state anti-spying law.


This law, I noted, is at the heart of why we were able to pull out of the 
Joint Terrorism Task Force. We're one of only three cities in the US to do 
so, along with San Francisco and Oakland. The annual report on the JTTF is 
expected at Council later this month, it's not clear yet but without 
public pressure it's likely Wheeler will not allow public testimony.

(Note: Wheeler has somewhat walked back his Trumpian talk about 
imposing harsher penalties, but we still need to be vigilant about the law 
that protects people from the police gathering info without suspicion of a 

Along the route, I mentioned that in one of the countries that was bribed 
with military sales, lawyers demanded the government overturn their 
recognition of Israel.


I incorrectly identified that country as Sudan, but correctly noted that 
part of the US's swapping things for political gain was to take Sudan off 
the list of countries who sponsor terrorism.


I also noted that the US sent B52s to the Gulf for the 4th time in 
the last few months to raise tensions with Iran, as Israel is itching for 
a war before Trump leaves.


At the money for human needs part of the march I noted that it costs $13 
million per prisoner to keep Guantanamo open, and that the US has spent 
at least $7 billion so far (the average cost per prisoner climbed as more 
were released).


On that last stretch, the Ann Huntwork memorial readerboard went out again 
on the South side of Pioneer Place mall. The only message we had this week 
was the same one in the promo video for Tuesday's event.


(There are only 4 views of this video so far-- check it out and share it 
if you can!)

I also reminded folks that next Friday will be another special event to 
mark 30 years since the US attacked Iraq on Jan. 16, 1991.

Friday, January 15, 5 PM Friday Rally:
    "30 Years Too Long: US Out of Iraq"
    marking 30 years since the start of the "Gulf War."

Join us if you can (and if you feel safe doing so).

Thanks again to Amnesty International for cosponsoring last night and for 
support on Tuesday's event. I hope many of you will be tuning in!!!

--dan handelman
Peace and Justice Works
     Iraq Affinity Group
     PO Box 42456
     Portland, OR   97242
     (503) 236-3065
     iraq at pjw.info
     Donate on line: http://www.pjw.info/pjwdonate.html

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