BALTIMORE – Anti-war activists crowded the ornate City Council chamber Nov. 20 to testify in support of a council resolution by Councilman Kwame Abayomi opposing George W. Bush’s threat of ‘unilateral, preemptive military action against Iraq.’

Ron Solomon, a spokesperson for the Citywide Coalition that drafted the resolution, thanked Abayomi and nine other council members for endorsing it and praised Councilman Robert Curran for convening the evening hearing. Since a majority of the council are cosponsors its passage seems assured.

The Baltimore Sun carried an editorial on the ‘agit-prop council’ meddling in affairs of state best left to George W. Bush and others in the seat of power. But, in fact, similar anti-war resolutions have been adopted by the city councils of San Francisco, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and many other cities and towns.

The resolution states that the security of the United States ‘is dependent on creating conditions of life for all nations, working together cooperatively, that will eliminate poverty, injustice, inequality, environmental degradation, and other factors that breed war and terrorism … Now, therefore, be it resolved by the City Council of Baltimore, that this body hereby … expresses opposition to the United States’ continued and threatened violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law by its unilateral, preemptive military action against the nation of Iraq.’

William Hughes, a resident of the Second District, told the hearing that the poor and working people of Baltimore will pay for the war and the council has a duty to stand up against it.

‘I believe there is no justification whatsoever for a U.S.-led war on Iraq,’ he said. ‘Bush’s preemptive strike policy is just a fancy word for Bush to attack any country he wants. It could lead to a nuclear war. Our war should be against Al Qaeda and not against the innocent people of Iraq. If we had a foreign policy based on peace rather than the U.S. as a global cop, we would have a huge peace dividend to deal with our needs at home.’

Shannon Frattaroli, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said U.S.-enforced sanctions against Iraq have killed half a million Iraqi children over the past decade and a new war could kill half a million more. ‘Such vicious use of power is a direct assault on the people of Iraq and consigns millions of innocents to an early grave. As a resident of this city, I know too many people who are hungry and cold … We are effectively destroying our own population by not investing our resources here at home.’

R.B. Jones, editor of the Baltimore Times, a free community newspaper, said he was a teenager during the Vietnam War. ‘I made up my mind I would not bear arms against any other country,’ he said. ‘We are not conducting a war against racism and poverty and these are the things that are killing us, not some foreign country. Why this war? Iraq has the second largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. The president and vice president are tools of the oil lobby. This war is about profits. The same administration that is pushing for war is starving people at home. I will not spill the blood of my nephews so Dick Cheney can profiteer.’

Tina Wheeler, district organizer of the Communist Party of Maryland, said, ‘We say, stop the war before it starts. While our cities suffer with budget deficits in social programs, health care and especially education, the military budget continues to grow. … No one is talking about who is going to fight this war. Its our children, our husbands … our investments in our future. There is no room for this city to support such a war.’

Kay Dellinger, testifying for the Baltimore Peace Action Network, said, ‘If the U.S. unilaterally and preemptively attacks Iraq, it will violate all international law and make the United States a pariah among other nations.’

In the past half century, she charged, the U.S. has squandered $4 trillion in producing weapons of mass destruction while millions became homeless because Congress terminated public housing. ‘Over 25 percent of Baltimore residents live in poverty. This country has no right to launch war against other countries while our own people are not cared for.’

Not a single witness testified in support of the war policy. The City Council was scheduled to debate the resolution Wednesday, Nov. 27.

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