[pjw] REPORT BACK: 19 deadly years: Friday rally #104 since stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Mar 19 14:17:27 EDT 2022

Hello again IAG supporters

Before I get to this week's report back, a little housekeeping:

1) This week's rally was actually #104 since the COVID lockdown of 2020, I 
used that number last week by accident.

2) I forgot to explain last week's subject line "fuel on the fire" was a 
reference to pouring more weapons into Ukraine which is like saying "Hey, 
my stove's on fire, let me go get some cooking oil to put that out."

3) The text of the fact sheet I sent out yesterday didn't include the 
caption to one of the photos, which includes an alarming bit of 
information I should have mentioned at last night's rally:

  "The International Campaign to Ban Landmines classifies Iraq as the
  world's most contaminated country with mines... Various conflicts have
  devastated the nation... The 1980s Iran-Iraq War, Saddam Hussein's war
  against the Iraqi Kurds, the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2003 US-led invasion
  left behind vast minefields and unexploded cluster munitions [as well as
  the Islamic State.s] pervasive, industrial-scale use of improvised
  explosive devices (IEDs), and inactivated mortar and artillery
  ammunition...." (Deutsche Welle, February 21)

I've been studying Iraq for the last 31 years and had no idea they 
outstripped other countries for land mine dangers.

Don't forget you can download the fact sheet at

OK, now on to what happened last night. We had nine people at the rally 
and march. Not to bad for a weekly rally, a little disappointing for our 
special event marking 19 years since the invasion of Iraq. Though it 
drizzled a bit at the beginning, we still did not have a full onslaught of 
rain so it was pleasant enough, and warm (happy spring tomorrow!). Does 
that mean 11 weeks without "rain"? Weigh in.

Even though I sent information on the event to the media early in the week 
and Friday morning, the only person who came by seemed to have done so on 
a fluke; the Willamette Week photographer who does street scenes took two 
photos and went on his way.

While we had a few honking horns of support it felt as if there was a 
warmer reception along the march route than at the Square. We also had a 
gentleman who was quite agitated about anti-immigration policies who was 
expressing himself loudly for well over 10 minutes, throughout the 
announcements, so it was a bit of a challenge.

We (mostly one of us) handed out a few dozen fact sheets and engaged with 
people along the way, as another person noted it slowed us down but is 
really the point of doing these educational actions, to engage with 

Because of the special theme, most of the rally talk focused on Iraq, so 
is a bit duplicative of the fact sheet, but that's ok. Here's what we 
talked about:

--The US invaded Iraq based on false information about Weapons of Mass 
Destruction which convinced dozens of allies to help attack that country, 
which had already been bombed in 1991 and was in shambles due to 
sanctions. Both interventions destroyed Iraqi infrastruture and civilians 
targets. So if Putin is brought up on war crimes, there are Americans who 
also need to be brought to justice.

---While the 2003 invasion was similar to Russia's invasion of Ukraine 
based on flimsy justification, Russia does not have a large support 
network aiding in its destructive military campaign.

--The other day Russia bombed a theater in Ukraine which was sheltering 
civilians, including in a bomb shelter, killing scores of people. This is 
reminiscent of the February 1991 US bombing of the Al Amariya bomb shelter 
in Iraq which killed 408 people. I visited that bomb shelter in 1997 and 
you could still see the shadows of people burned into the walls.



--The big talk this week is about President Zelenskyy asking for a no-fly 
zone over Ukraine. The US imposed a no-fly zone in Iraq in the late 1990s 
and killed many shepherds and other civilians when claiming to take out 
Iraqi anti-aircraft locations. As you have heard even President Biden and 
NATO say, imposing a no fly zone means bombing Russian targets and planes, 
a sure way to expand the war.

---Perhaps most offensive, though, was Zelenskyy invoking Martin Luther 
King Jr, one of the pre-eminent nonviolent (and anti-war) activists of our 
time, to call for this violent intervention. ""I have a dream. These words 
are known to each of you. Today I can say I have a need. I need to 
protect our sky. I need your decision, your help."


--Just this week, rockets hit an Iraqi airbase; nobody was hurt. This is 
not where any US personnel are stationed any more (allegedly). But these 
kinds of attacks were not happening before 2003, there have been thousands 
in the 19 years since.


--In other news, the Iranian nuclear deal seems to be back on track after 
the US conceded that Russia could trade non-weapons-related nuclear 
supplies to Iran despite the sanctions imposed over Ukraine.


I should also say that many weeks I'm using a little piece of note paper 
to remind me of the headlines; I left it at the office but managed to 
remember most everything this week. Except I didn't give a local report on 
police issues... Alas. The plan was to talk about the City's proposed 
renewal of the Clean and Safe deal where the Portland Business Alliance 
basically pays for the salaries of four officers who respond primarily to 
their security guards' calls for help; I mentioned this in last week's 
report and at the rally anyway.


Along the march route, I noted that Israel is welcoming thousands of 
Ukrainian refugees, but no more Palestinians. Just more racism and 


And as we headed back to the Square, I noted that there was a recent 
Gallup poll asking whether the US was spending too little, too much, or 
just the right amount on the military. Right now our country is a little 
bit "goldilocks" where 32% think it's too low, 31% think it's too high and 
34% think it's just right. Let's push that 31% number higher! (And maybe 
Gallup can ask next time, if you were choosing between fixing the 
environment, giving people homes and providing health care OR spending 
more money on the military, how would you answer this question?)


In a surprise twist, I took the wagon with the Ann Huntwork Peace 
Memorial Sign along the curb away from the Gucci store; it froze up while 
we were by the store ___and then starting running again when we got past 
it.___ So there's definitely something going on there. However, the same 
trick didn't work on the South Side of Pioneer Place Mall, where the sign 
conked out between 4th and 5th Aves in the place it _used_ to do that 
before Gucci moved in. Oh, and I did remember to get the "US Out Of..." 
message back up, and also put the day's theme on a third message after the 
Justice for... scroll for those killed by police.

At the end I reminded everyone that we're still masking up at least until 
April 18 when the transit mask mandate is lifted, and that for now we're 
continuing sponsoring weekly rallies.

I also noted that the 17 years later event in 2020 was the last Friday 
rally sponsored by Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, so next week 
marks 2 years of PJW's hosting the events. Feel free to join us if you 
feel up for it.

Finally, although we were focusing on 19 years since the 2003 invasion, I 
carried my "scoreboard" sign noting that it's been 31 years since the 
"Gulf War." I finally had a chance to add the flip-over "1" onto the sign 
I updated last year to say "30 years too long, US out of Iraq." The one 
that went from year 20 to 29, you may recall, got very worn out.


Overall of the nine of us there were three signs about Iraq, two about 
Russia, two peace symbols, one saying "there are no military solutions," 
and one saying "Stop the Wars."

--dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

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