The first meeting of 2007 was held at the Caffé della Pace. Present were 14 members: Barbara, Patrick, David, Rossana, Marilee, David, Amy, Sara, Michelle, Heather, Marco, Julienne, Genevieve, Stephanie.
The meeting was chaired by Stephanie and minutes were taken by Barbara.
1. The discussion began with Patrick asking whether we wanted to speak out on Somalia, and Gen proposing regular weekly sit-ins, perhaps dressed in black, in front of the monument in Pza Venezia which would be visually effective and demonstrate our link to a commemoration of the dead in wars.
The group felt that it could not sustain weekly sit-ins but proposed monthly or bi-monthly sit-ins, and that the Pza. Venezia site might not be the best venue for a number of reasons. However those doubts were assuaged with examples as to why it could be a good venue (e.g. visibility, high traffic area without blocking the thoroughfare, etc.). On Somalia, see point 2.
2. The question of what we are going to do on Jan. 27, which is the day that there will be a national march in Washington to bring the message to Congress to take action to get the troops out of Iraq. Stephanie informed the group that on the same day there would be an assembly in Rome sponsored by Tavolo della Pace di Roma, with the participation of Rome peace groups. Neither the venue nor the theme of the assembly has yet been defined, however we have been asked to report to the assembly on peace action in the US. Some Italian activists are proposing to interrupt (or follow) the assembly with a sit-in at the embassy or on a central square at which our group would have signs and flyers. The central theme for the flyers should be US troops out of Iraq but there should also be reference to a stop of all US aggression including Iran, Somalia and Afghanistan. Heather will lead a small group which will take responsibility for preparing the flyers and coordinating this action, with input and back-up support from Stephanie who will be in Washington for the march. Gen will speak for USC4P&J at the assembly, with Barbara as back up in case she does not return from the Social Forum in Nairobi in time. Stephanie will send reports as input for the statement. It was decided that USC4P&J should officially endorse the Jan. 27 action in Washington.
3. Stephanie proposed a “lobby party” to get people together to call their congress people on stop the war legislation on January 29, the same day as the Lobby Day in Washington. There were no volunteers among those present at the meeting but the idea seemed good so if any members who are reading this want to take the initiative write to email@example.com.
4. David C. reported on the film series providing a budget report and a proposal for the spring program (attached). Both were approved and two additional films were proposed which David will look into. The group congratulated the film committee for the interesting proposals and for the excellent management of the series, including the surplus in the kitty. Thought will have to be given to how to use the funds available.
The proposed dates will be sent to the Linux Club which has already told us they are reserving Wednesdays for our Group. Linux also asked for feedback on anything they can do to improve things for us. It was suggested that we find a better way to arrange chairs for viewing.
It was also mentioned that we need volunteers to present the films and that we try to produce handouts with additional information on the issues and on ways to take action.
5. On war resisters, it was mentioned that according to the Department of Defense, 8000 soldiers have deserted; obviously the real figure must be much higher. It was suggested that this be mentioned in the statement prepared for the assembly on the 27th. Lt. Ehrlen Watada’s court martial will begin on Feb 5 and the question of flyering somewhere on that day was raised. Again, the event on the 27th absorbed all the members at the meeting available during this period. If any other members reading this want to take the initiative please do so, writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stephanie reported that there was a request for contribution to the defense fund for Agustin Aguayo, currently being held in a U.S. military prison in Germany for refusing to serve in Iraq. It was agreed that the proceeds from the first film showing on 7 February – Why we Fight – should be sent as a contribution to this fund.
6. Regarding future meetings, it was agreed that a fixed but flexible (to handle unforseen events) schedule should be prepared for monthly meetings, possibly on the last Wednesday of every month, and that the meetings should be held at the Caffé della Pace. This location would also enable us to give wider publicity to the meetings, perhaps attracting new recruits. Barbara will prepare a draft schedule and will reserve the room each month. Stephanie will continue to prepare and distribute the agenda as before. If there is not enough business to justify an entire meeting, the business could be handled first and the last part devoted to an in-depth discussion of an issue of interest.