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Jonesborough Justice


By David Swanson

Of the eleven major peace rallies organized around the country by United for Peace and Justice last Saturday the smallest and most unusual took place in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Jonesborough is a town of about 4,000 people in the northeast corner of Tennessee, within a couple of dozen miles of both Virginia and North Carolina. The people of Jonesborough can imagine the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq by imagining their entire local population dead.

Rallying for peace and justice in Jonesborough is something of an act of reclamation, and it's about time it happened. Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee and was a center of the abolition movement. But, as if to offer a perfect illustration of the wisdom of the nation's founding fathers' distaste for political parties, the people of eastern Tennessee have largely stood by the Republican Party as it has mutated into the party of racism and militarism. Our rally of about 400 peace activists on Saturday was greeted by about 50 pro-war activists revving their Harleys, honking their horns, and screaming their vicious messages of hate with the utmost vein-popping fury.

Also in attendance were a couple of hundred representatives of local, county, and state law enforcement, police vans, trailers, and a circling helicopter. While the pro-death contingent was left more or less in peace, the nonviolent peace demonstrators were each fully searched and metal-detectored as they entered a downtown park for a rally. (I discussed the fourth amendment with a few different police officers to no avail, and the local organizers supported the police policy).

As photos of the event show, http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=image/tid/98 when we left the rally to march through town, the state troopers guided us away from Main Street, and down a back road. A total of two town residents were observed observing our march. The troopers marched with us at 10 foot intervals, and kept everyone to one half of the empty road. (When some of us took up the whole width of the road, we were admonished by local activists who believed it their duty to obey state trooper orders, no matter how absurd).

So, there was an attitude of subservience just beginning to crack in Jonesborough, but following the march we drove out to a factory that produced Depleted Uranium weapons. This was an important place to protest, and it helped to put a new issue into the Tennessee news, even if the local paper's reporting was THIS lousy: http://afterdowningstreet.org/node/28121

The pro-death contingent shouted from the closest possible fence when I and others were speaking at the rally. The organizers, rightly I think, chose not to engage them, and their moronic chants served to enliven rather than drown out the event. My speech may read as pretty ordinary http://afterdowningstreet.org/node/28066 but I think the video is livelier as a result of the conflict. The video of my speech is already up, and I hope all the others will be up soon at http://www.youtube.com/whynotnews

I hope Tyler Westbrook posts a video of the entire rally, because the combination of speakers (and musicians) was – I thought – outstanding. George Friday of UFPJ served as the MC. Caren Neile, director of the South Florida storytelling project, spoke in the tradition of Jonesborough's storytelling culture and told the story of Lysistrata. Tim Pluta, a victim of Depleted Uranium poisoning and an Airforce Specialist who was discharged as a Conscientious Objector, recited a poem told from the point of view of a D.U. molecule – absolutely brilliant! Russell Kincaid, a nuclear physicist, explained to us what the danger of Depleted Uranium is. Leila al-Imad, a professor of middle eastern history, put our government's current actions in context. Chris Lugo of the Nashville Peace Coalition, and a Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee, spoke about local activism. And Herbert Reed, an Iraq Vet and D.U. victim who has suffered terribly from the poisoning and led efforts to hold the military accountable, told his tale. A good AP article about what happened to him is here and should be more widely known: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/28188

The people of Jonesborough deserve a full reawakening of their culture of justice activism, and a better representative in Washington than Congressman David Davis. Let's hope that United for Peace and Justice has lit a spark.

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"The people of Jonesborough can imagine the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq by imagining their entire local population dead."

If only the people of Jonesborough were challenged to actually imagine this concept. Thank you for pointing this out!

"While the pro-death contingent was left more or less in peace, the nonviolent peace demonstrators were each fully searched and metal-detectored as they entered a downtown park for a rally. (I discussed the fourth amendment with a few different police officers to no avail, and the local organizers supported the police policy)."

Tennessee is a gun carrying state, so I was actually thankful for that kind of "attempt" at security. But the wanding of peace demonstrators and the lack of wanding of those outside the small perimeter of the park was bizarre. It almost seemed more like a tactical exercise for law enforcement, rather than a true concern for security.

"As photos of the event show, when we left the rally to march through town, the state troopers guided us away from Main Street, and down a back road."

This was extremely odd. We were told in the park that we would be marching through town down Main Street. The bait and switch back road cover up was... hmmm... interesting and provides those who attended the march with yet more flavor for the oppression in this area.

"... the combination of speakers (and musicians) was – I thought – outstanding. "

I agree wholeheartedly with you on the high caliber of speakers and artists that presented material at this event. Thank you to all of you for offering your talents and gifts in an area of America that is very dark politically.

"The people of Jonesborough deserve a full reawakening of their culture of justice activism, and a better representative in Washington than Congressman David Davis. Let's hope that United for Peace and Justice has lit a spark."

The people of Jonesborough and all of East Tennessee need a full reawakening and better representation. I will continue to look for that spark, and hope to fan a flame at some point. Thank you for this report from your perspective David Swanson! I'd like to see your words in the local paper to give the local people a perspective to contemplate that they are not normally exposed to locally.

On Saturday, Stop Torture Now, UFPJ, Quaker House, and several other groups held a rally in Smithfield, NC to protest the war and the presence in Smithfield (Johnston County Airport) of Aero Contractors, a CIA front which moves kidnapped "terrorists" to countries where they can be tortured. A Gathering of Eagles turned out about 20-30 protestors for the roughly 200 people at the rally. As in Jonesborough, the Smithfield police allowed them to do as they pleased, but used dogs to search the backpacks and materials of the non-violent protestors. This while the pro-death crowd shouted every ugly, viscious thing at us they could think of, including death threats. At a later point in the protest, near the Johnston County Airport, the Johnston County Sheriffs office (3 deputies for 300 people) let them harass demonstrators participating in a memorial for torture victoms the world over. After the non-violent protestors entered property near the airport to put signs and pictures on the fence near Aero, the sheriff's deputies allowed the protestors to force us to walk single file bettween them as they screamed and threatened. Only after the non-violent protestors entered, did the sheriff's deputies bring in extra help, SWAT teams which sat in their vans and did nothing. It was clear that they were afraid of the non-violent protestors.

Wayne Turner
Chapel Hill, NC

In the Active Forum Topics to the left below Key Documents. Explains a lot. Talk by Naomi Wolf earlier this month. Impeach for Peace.

I've seen both you and John Perry strongly endorse this video - which is good enough for me. But, at 47+ minutes long, it is simply too much for my old system to handle. Also, I don't have all night to download it, for viewing in the morning. And finally, if it's that good then it's something I'd want to have on hand, to refer back to.

Do you know of any source of it on DVD/CD? (Or even just an audio CD?)

Any help greatly appreciated!

(And Naomi Wolf, if you're listening: please advise, ma'am.)

Semper Fi,

-Matty in Florida

Suppose we could contact the "persons of interest" list holders which include the Canadian Gov't. Also read the walls to keep Mexicans out and the border patrol keeping Americans out of Canada are really meant to keep us all in as so we all can be slaves after our market goes completely to foreigners who've lent so much. But that is another story.
Will look for Naomi in a bit. Off to get some paying work done. Rain

Someone sure has the facts jumbled.

BS Wayne,.But on par with your whiney rants. Have you ever noticed we never get arrested ?. At the rally I was the one at the top of the hill who was shouting down your one sided BS. The Gathering of Eagles is a Counter Protest group, we are not a High School debateing team. Get over yourself. You can expect a counter in NC & you Sir will not define the PC "Rules". if we agreed with you we would all be standing with you handing out communist inspired hand outs & singing along with Bob Dillon.

Please note, I have been invited by one of your protest leaders to join his class for the debate on Jihad, I have accepted, he was most pleased at our counter, both at the park & at the airport.You are welcome to join in, but once your protest starts its give & take, free speech & free expression..get a grip & quit lieing to build your shatter ego.

My name is George Samek,I have received unsigned, no return address hate mail from members of the Code Pink chapter in Charlotte NC, which I posted on the Code Pink web site, along with my responce, google my name Sir. I will counter you, but I will never follow you home to attack your family, Can the anti-war movement say the same.?.

...by the tenacity and fortitude of the marchers in Jonesborough. You had 200+ in a town of 4000 under extremely disturbing circumstances... you carried out a full on visible demonstration - i'm in awe and envious... in a town of 100,000 i could only muster 30 for the 4 hour demonstration and NO ONE was searched - the Police were nowhere in sight, and counter protesters were only an occassional 'drive-by' with a hand holding Bush's IQ.

Darwin26
Viet Nam drafted Veteran WIA '68
Co-State Coordinator PDA Montana
www.pdamontana.org
www.williamsstudiogallery.com

See Tim Pluta's poem from the point of view of a D.U. molecule – at the Charloote impeachment rally:

LINK

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