LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-2 on Oct. 16 to tell President Bush “to immediately commence a rapid, humane, and complete withdrawal” of U.S. forces from Iraq.

Los Angeles is now the largest U.S. city to call for withdrawal, joining other major cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco and Oakland. Last June 26, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed an antiwar resolution.

The L.A. council resolution says the Jan. 12, 2005, official end of the search for weapons of mass destruction terminated the mission that justified the use of U.S. armed forces in Iraq. It adds that the $2 billion spent each week on the occupation of Iraq has resulted in more than $4.5 billion in tax revenues being diverted from the city to support the war and occupation, as of June 1 of this year. The diversion of funds “severely degrades the quality of life for Los Angeles residents,” the resolution says.

The impetus for the resolution came from grassroots peace activists who united this summer to form a citywide coalition to pass the resolution and help build local actions for peace called End the War LA. The group developed a draft resolution and decided to present it for future consideration on Sept. 12, when the council returned from summer vacation.

Public sentiment against the war and support for the resolution are so strong that the council would have passed the measure on the spot if it were not for due process provisions that prohibited them from doing so.

In an Oct. 14 letter urging the City Council to pass the resolution, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) said, “I feel that it is imperative that all bodies of the nation’s government become actively engaged in an effort to stop the war in Iraq. … By passing this resolution, you will strengthen the efforts of those of us in Congress who have been working tirelessly to end the occupation.”

Los Angeles Councilman Ed Reyes, who chairs the National League of Cities’ Community and Economic Development Committee, said that cities across the nation “are losing millions and millions of dollars a week from desperately needed programs to fund this unjustified war.”

Resolution sponsor Councilman Bill Rosendahl said the resolution is meant to move Congress to take stronger action to end the war. “To me this is an illegal and immoral war that never should have been started,” he said.

After the overwhelming vote in support of the measure, Councilwoman Janice Hahn said, “There is a huge local impact for this war. … It is absolutely right that we spoke loud and clear with the majority of Americans.”

rosalio_munoz @sbcglobal.net