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Declaring Peace and a New Kind of Justice

By Gregory Flannery · September 20th, 2006 · Porkopolis
  Volunteers prepare banners for the Declaration of Peace.
Matt Borgerding

Volunteers prepare banners for the Declaration of Peace.

Peace activists say they will disrupt work at U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot's district offices Sept. 27 unless he agrees by then to sign the Congressional Declaration of Peace. At a Sept. 18 town hall meeting in Clifton Heights, Chabot's aide reiterated support for President Bush and said of the Iraq war, "We intend to stay the course."

The audience booed loudly. The aide repeated several times, "I listened to you, I listened to you," as organizers from the Intercom-munity Justice and Peace Center quieted the crowd. The aide invoked Bush's and Chabot's noble goal of establishing freedom and democracy in Iraq, then refused to answer questions from the crowd when he finished.

The town hall meeting was the local kickoff of the Declaration of Peace (declarationofpeace.org), described by organizers as "a nationwide campaign to establish a rapid plan for peace in Iraq." A week of local anti-war actions begins Wednesday, culminating with a sit-in at Chabot's office. Chabot indicated Monday through a spokesperson that he won't endorse the peace initiative.

Chabot's "stay the course" message came after Democratic congressional candidates John Cranley and Victoria Wulsin had already spoken in person. Cranley, running against Chabot in Ohio's 1st District, ridiculed Chabot's position, calling it Bush's "stay the course and pass the buck strategy." Bush has admitted his plan will require an active U.S.

military presence in Iraq until at least two years after the current administration ends.

"We need new representatives in Washington, representatives who aren't afraid to challenge the administration," Cranley said. "We must restore accountability and responsibility. Elect me, and I will demand a responsible exit strategy."

Wulsin, running against Rep. Jean Schmidt in Ohio's 2nd District, was even more direct.

"Stop the war," she said. "End the corruption that's going into Halliburton's pockets."

The town hall featured citizen testimonials from parents of a Marine in the Lima Division who served in Iraq. Peggy Logue cried as she talked of the families she's met at military funerals across Ohio and of the losses her own son has endured.

Evanston community health worker Esther Eubanks addressed the audience, pointedly ignoring the politicians.

"I've noticed that politicians tend to ignore the poor folk all year long, so I tend to ignore them when election time comes around," she said. "People, please, let's wake ourselves up. If we can afford war, we can certainly afford health care for the poor."

A group of activists has gotten together to oppose Issue 12, a proposed sales-tax hike to build a new jail in Hamilton County.

"A strategy we are using to oppose Issue 12 is to point out that the retributive justice system, the current system, does not help the victim, the community or address the needs of the offender," says Suhith Wickrema, one of the organizers of the opposition effort. "We would like to model our strategy after the organization Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation. We want to influence the public debate on crime. At this time we are only hearing the voices of those who support retributive justice. We want to add the voices of those who support restorative justice and rehabilitation to the public debate."

The Southwest Ohio Green Party has voted to support the anti-jail effort. For more information about Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, visit www.mvfr.org. For more information about the anti-jail campaign, contact Wickrema at Suhith@iac.net.

Party on the Square and with the Greens
Fountain Square officially comes back to life Oct. 14 with an entertainment lineup that emphatically announces a new direction for the city's highest-profile public space. The evening's concert features Cincinnati-based DJ Hi-Tek and influential Hip Hop artist Talib Kweli at 6 p.m., followed by Grammy Award-winning Los Lobos and capped off by the buzz Pop/Rock band OK Go. Rozzi fireworks round out the night. All for free.

Earlier in the day, Bootsy Collins hosts an afternoon session that features a poem written and read by Cincinnati native Nikki Giovanni and performances by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Opera, among others. The Tyler Davidson Fountain will also be unveiled in its new location.

Bill Donabedian, hired by 3CDC to bring new energy and a new sense of inclusiveness to the reconfigured square, is starting his tenure on the right foot: By celebrating the city's strong arts scene along with local artists who are well-known nationally and then bringing in diverse national music acts, 3CDC is offering something for everyone -- a good omen for a city that needs some positive vibes right now.

State candidates for the Ohio Green Party visit Cincinnati on Saturday. Bob Fitrakis (candidate for governor), Anita Rios (running for lieutenant governor) and Tim Kettler (candidate for Ohio Secretary of State) will be at Mac's Pizza and Pub, 205 W. McMillan St., from 7-8 p.m. Saturday.

For a more detailed report on the town meeting about the war and Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher's "meeting" at The Enquirer, visit CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at citybeat.wordpress.com.

Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 138) or pork(at)citybeat.com


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