Last weekend, July 10 12, the National Assembly to End the
The Conference was attended by more than 250 people including people from all of the national coalitions: ANSWER, UFPJ, The World Cant Wait, Bail and Out the People Coalition, and others. There also were members of Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War. Code Pink, American Friends Service Committee, Peace Action, Womens International League for Peace and Freedom, US Labor Against the War, Pax Christi, the Iraq Moratorium, Progressive Democrats of America, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Green Party, and other national groups. People from local peace groups across the country, including Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace members Tim Herr, Trudy Quaif, and I, were present, as well. BNP set up its literature table and did brisk business throughout the weekend.
The conference was held at
Keynotes and talks were given by Michael McPhearson,
Executive Director of Veterans for Peace and Co-Chair of UFPJ, Iraqi poet and
National Assembly leader Zaineb Alani,
National Assembly leader and human rights attorney Lynne Stewart, Michael
Zweig, an economics professor and leader of U.S. Labor Against the War, and a
others. A special presentation was given
by Elie Domota, the General
Secretary of the General Union of Workers of Guadalupe, which recently
conducted a 45-day general strike on the
All those in attendance had a voice and a vote in all proceedings of the conference.
The main plenary sessions were
dedicated to 1) developing an action proposal for the coming period; 2)
deciding on an structure proposal for the National Assembly, including electing
an Administrative Body to lead the organization until its next conference. The National Assembly continues to aim to
bring unity to the anti-war movement in the
Five action proposals were circulated to the activists who
were present. One, from the National
Assembly leadership, had been worked out over the prior four months. A second was withdrawn at the
conference. The remaining three came
from David Swanson, an author and activists and leader of the After Downing
Street group; the World Cant Wait coalition; and a group of 9/11 truth
activists. All proposals were discussed
and debated, and in the end, in the spirit of unity, all of the resolutions,
with the exception of the proposal from the 9/11 truth activists, were
consolidated into a unified action proposal.
That proposal calls for building a series of actions in the fall and
holding a national action next spring around the anniversary of the invasion of
In addition, the National Assembly will support and endorse a two-week period of united mass actions beginning October 3 and culminating on October 17. This includes Monday, October 5, as the date for a national mass march and non-violent civil resistance at the U.S. House of Representatives office buildings and at the White House.
This is an ambitious program of action, but there are enough people and groups committed to working on it, and every effort will be made to bring the entire anti-war movement into unified actions around these dates. The plentiful attendance at this conference by members of the movement and the statements made there by leaders of many anti-war groups suggests that we will be successful in this effort. To help build these actions, the National Assembly will sponsor a national speaking tour of one or more prominent people during the fall.
In addition to the
action proposal and the structure proposal,
the conference also passed resolutions on the
The leadership body of the National Assembly is called the Continuations Body. It is comprised of representatives of national and local groups from throughout the country. I would encourage you to have a representative of your group on the Continuations Body. The Continuations Body meets monthly through a conference call.
Finally, the conference elected a 14 member Administrative Body. The fourteen members are:
Colia Clark Chair, Richard Wright Centennial Committee; Grandmothers for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Donna Dewitt President,
Mike Ferner President, Veterans for Peace
Jerry Gordon National co-coordinator of the Vietnam-era National Peace Action Coalition and member of US Labor Against the War steering committee
Mobilization for Peace, Jobs and Justice (
Fred Mason President,
Mary Nichols-Rhodes Progressive
Ashley Smith International
Socialist Organization (
Lynne Stewart Human Rights
There was also a series of workshops at the conference on
issues including the economy,
I would like to have a NEPAAC meeting in the near future to start discussions among all peace and justice groups in the Capital District of the actions planned for this fall. Although it is now the summer and anti-war activity is at a low point, the issues that brought us together in this struggle have not gone away. There is an escalation of the wars at a time of economic crisis that that is deeper than most of us have ever seen before. We have celebrated the end of the Bush era. It is time to get back out in the streets.