LOS ANGELES – This became the largest city in the nation to officially take a stand in opposition to President Bush’s war against Iraq when the City Council adopted an anti-war resolution Feb. 21. Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn signed the resolution later that day.

The resolution puts the nation’s second largest city in vehement opposition to a unilateral war against Iraq without the backing of a global group such as the United Nations. The council also strongly urged Bush to employ all diplomatic options to deal with the crisis before going to war.

The 9-4 final vote for the motion, which had fallen one vote shy of the eight needed for passage a few days before, received cheers, applause and chants of “thank you, thank you” from hundreds of supporters who overfilled the council chambers with many forced to go into the Board of Public Works chambers down the hall to listen to the meeting.

“People around the world are asking simply to hold off on unilateral war right now with Iraq because people feel that the case has not been made and people feel it affects their lives here where they live,” stated Councilman Eric Garcetti from the 13th District who authored and introduced the resolution.

“We have great needs in our cities, and we should not be spending our federal tax dollars bombing and killing other people in other countries,” Councilman Ed Reyes told the pro-peace hundreds.

A heated two-hour debate around the resolution took place at the council meeting of Feb. 18 when the resolution was first introduced. That debate centered on whether local government should take a stand on global issues.

Councilman Jack Weiss received loud jeers from the audience when, in opposition to the resolution, he said, “We ought to focus on sidewalks, not Saddam. … This is a place to talk about police reform not the Persian Gulf.”

Garcetti took that on squarely arguing that war in Iraq is a local issue because it would cost the United States government billions of dollars to wage war. Some of those billions could help solve local problems, Garcetti said, including helping schools and fighting crime.

Garcetti also reminded the council that that it had taken positions on international issues before including against apartheid in South Africa and in support of environmental controls in the Kyoto Protocol.

Councilwoman Ruth Galenter backed Garcetti’s point as she supported the resolution. “This City Council has a long history of taking a moral stance, sometimes at cost to our residents, in favor of policies that protect human rights and world order,” she said.

Celebrities and representatives of labor unions, the religious community, and community organizations testified passionately at the council in favor of the resolution. Actors Ed Asner and David Clennon told the council it had a responsibility to stand up to the immoral military action.

“I believe this war, if George Bush starts it, will be a war against humanity,” said Clennon, who stars in the television show “The Agency.” “And I believe that the execution of [Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld’s war plan will inevitably implicate our troops in war crimes.”

The momentum for passage of the resolution had been building over the last weeks as constituents ardently lobbied their respective council members with petitions, phone calls, visits and e-mail. Massive demonstrations in the city against the war, including the march of over 100,000 on Feb. 15, also influenced the vote.

The final resolution contained an amendment from Councilwoman Jan Perry seeking more funding for the city’s homeless, 20 percent of whom are estimated to be veterans.

Los Angeles joins over 100 other cities that have already adopted anti-war resolutions including Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Cleveland.

The author can be reached at evnalarcon@aol.com

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