N. Calif. PWW event raises $10,000; Honors peace and justice groups

OAKLAND, Calif. — Rejecting the governor’s anti-people agenda, bringing our troops home from Iraq and using resources for human needs instead of war and occupation — these were the themes of the Northern California People’s Weekly World banquet held here Nov. 5.

The event raised over $10,000 for the People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo 2005 fund drive.

Though polls already foreshadowed the anti-right-wing sweep in the Special Election a few days later, banquet speakers urged the biggest possible vote on Nov. 8. Many participants, including many youth, had been hard at work all day, phone-banking and visiting voters at their homes.

The audience chuckled with delight at Pixie Schickele’s call to “vote more than once — talk to your family and co-workers,” and Jodi Reid’s observation, “We have to stop this B.S. — Bush and Schwarzenegger.” Their organizations, the Alliance for a Better California and the California Alliance for Retired Americans, were honored at the event, as were the youth organizations Latinos Unidos and Youth Power, and the Mosswood Park Recreation Center, represented by senior staff member Lateshya Johnson.

One of the evening’s most memorable moments came as Anne Roesler of Military Families Speak Out gave a graphic account of her son’s harrowing experiences in Iraq and the suffering of the Iraqi people. She called on the audience to bring the troops home and care for them and their communities. Roesler was joined on the platform by Ramon Leal of Iraq Veterans Against the War, who urged that politicians be held accountable for their actions in Iraq and in meeting people’s needs at home.

Calling for good-paying union jobs, quality education and health care and freedom from all forms of discrimination, Juan Lopez of the Northern California Communist Party said, “To make bigger gains in the future, we must first get rid of this sorry bunch in the White House, in the Congress and the governor’s mansion, and defeat their anti-people agenda.”

The unity of youth and seniors in struggle was highlighted by Andy Barnes of the California Alliance of Retired Americans as he urged the audience to get ready to “kick Arnold Schwarzenegger out, kick George Bush out — this country belongs to us and we’ve got to take it back!”

Participants laughed at the pointed, satirical lyrics of the Raging Grannies, and were thrilled and delighted by vocalist Emily Baloney, the dance ensemble BodiRock and famed activist clown Wavy Gravy.