Location: Apartment of Maria Vasquez
Date: Tuesday, 20 June 2006, 7pm
The fourth General Meeting of USC4P&J, was attended by the following people:
Objective: To discuss upcoming events in Rome, letters to authorities and group endorsements as well as hear about Kathy's experience in DC.
Upcoming events: We talked about some upcoming events in which we will either participate or be involved in organizing.
Tuesday June 27
First on the agenda is a protest in front of Palazzo Chigi on June 27 at 6pm. This is being organized by the Rome peace groups in order to call attention to the upcoming vote to refinance the Italian missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. We plan to use our usual signs, especially those with "Italy: Don't Support Bush's War" as well as hand out flyers on the occupation and military spending.
Wednesday July 5
Next will be "performance poet" Shailja Patel, member of Poets Against War. She was born in Kenya, is of Indian origins and lives between the U.S. and the U.K. She will perform some of her anti-war poetry followed by a debate, in Rome at Angelo Mai on July 5. We have been asked to help organize and participate in the debate.
Thursday July 6
Then on July 6, Giorgio Riva, British coordinator for Payday, an organization supporting members of the military who refuse to fight, will be in Rome with a film Payday produced on refusniks from several countries. The film is in English with Italian subtitles. We were asked by Paola Gasparoli of Un ponte per… to organize the screening of the film. This is set for July 6 at the Casa delle culture in Trastevere.
July 4th holiday
We also discussed doing something for the 4th of July. The possibilities we discussed include joining the Troops Out Fast promoted by Codepink. [see their web site for more info] and a protest in front of the U.S. embassy. We will continue to explore these possibilities.
There are several Italian activists, a couple of which were with us on April 15 for Tax Day, would like to start having a presence on squares in Rome to hand out flyers and interact with passersby about the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, military spending, etc. Stephanie attended a "working group" meeting in which some ideas were proposed including a sort of "penny poll" on military spending, a "quiz show" on the square, etc in order to get people to stop and talk with us about the issues. No dates have been set for this, but will be in the near future. A meeting will be held on Monday June 26, at 6:30pm at the Casa della pace in Trastevere.
Letters to Authorities We talked about this process of writing letters as a group. Kathy shared some of her experience on drafting the 7th letter to the ambassador. Gene asked whether we might be able to get these letters, or an article about them and our lack of response, published. We will look into this.
Stephanie let us know about a letter to the Italian government. It has been written in Italian as an open letter with the hopes that it will be published in Italy. Once a final version has been completed, it will also be translated to English and sent to web sites and media outlets in the U.S. The letter has already been sent to a couple of Italian activists who have a long experience in the areas touched upon for comments regarding message, tone and content. The letter will be sent to the mailing list and another "drafting committee" will be formed to comment and finalize it.
Misc We also talked about Ele's offer to give an informal talk to our group about her recent experience as a volunteer in New Orleans, inspired by the presentation we organized with Liz Carter last March. Maria reminded us that her daughter Maria also volunteered in New Orleans right after the hurricane. The idea is to plan an informal gathering to hear accounts from both Ele and Maria.
Kathy's Experience in DC Kathy filled us in on two of her activities in Washington DC in mid May. (For a detailed account go to our website)
She shared that there was a conference to strengthen a growing movement by the progressive faith traditions in the U.S. to get out their message to their congregations and to Americans at large, that the fundamentalist right wing churches do not speak for all people of faith and that in fact they are misguided in many of their teachings. A highpoint was a statement by the chair of the United Methodists stating that the policies being carried out in the Bush White House are not in keeping with his proclaimed faith. The leaders of this spiritual progressives coalition use descriptive language, such as immoral and lacking in human compassion, to describe what needs to change in our present government.
Another activity was a gathering of several activist groups to deliver a petition of 40,000 signatures to the White House demanding that the U.S. not attack Iran. Included in this effort were groups such as: the World Can't Wait, Codepink(with Cindy Sheehan), After Downing Street, The Velvet Revolution, SOA Watch.
Two upcoming events were promoted:
-The 'Troops Out Fast' which will start on July 4th, 2006 to intensify the pressure being placed on our government to in fact withdraw all troops from Iraq.
-The date September 21st(international day of peace) has been set by a large coalition of activist groups through the Declaration of Peace pledge to demand the withdrawal of troops and if not intensify the level of resistance/protest against Bush's policies.
The rest of the evening was spent discussing politics and chatting over the wonderful food prepared by Maria and her daughter, Maria.
Special thanks to Maria, Maria and Camilo for their hospitality.
Next meeting: to be announced.
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