Photo Reflections from LA

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Erica posted last week about the Los Angeles WTR gathering, and much about it is still on my mind, so I’ll just add more photos and captions from our time there.

This fence seemed shocking to me, cutting off the street in front of the Worker’s Center where we met (and other streets for a few blocks) from what appeared to be a higher income neighborhood. As I recall our host said this sort of thing was done after the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots, but I can’t remember more of what she told us. Maybe some readers know more about that.

This little guy smelled a tasty apple core and appeared in the Worker’s Center front garden. He helped bring us back to earth after talking too much about the technicalities of war tax resistance, organizational minutiae, or the latest political crisis.

Along with about a dozen others from our WTR weekend, I feel lucky to have been able to get to Arlington West on the beach at Santa Monica. I’d seen the film years ago, but it was especially moving to visit in person.

The crosses represent U.S. military deaths (white for 1 person, red for 10), but the exhibit is not limited to military deaths. There are displays and lists of names of civilians killed in the wars, charts with the monetary cost to U.S. taxpayers and comparisons to the good their money could be doing instead, and….

….marking military suicides, the thousands of wounded (next photo), plus display with a large map showing U.S. bases around the world and asking passers-by if they know the extent of the Pentagon’s reach and what their tax dollars are doing abroad.

Despite the fact that passers-by were out for a fun day at the beach, a constant stream of them stop to look at the crosses, read the displays, and stop at the Veterans For Peace literature table to talk or pick up a brochure. Local organizer Kathleen Hernandez talked about how families and friends come with photos of their loved one killed in the endless wars to place with a cross. Then there are the former soldiers who can be overwhelmed by the memories that come with seeing the exhibit.

A great organizing idea is to set up a white board at public vigils, exhibits, maybe penny polls so passers-by can write their own messages. This one asks people to answer “What would you do to promote peace in the world?” This man wrote “End the CIA. They cause conflicts.” Our group added, of course, “don’t pay war taxes.”

“WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” ― Smedley D. Butler, War Is a Racket (1935)

In an effort to counter the war profiteers, members of the Southern California War Tax Alternative Fund announced their grants of redirected taxes during the weekend. (l to r) Alex Walker, Joe Maizlish, Cathy Deppe, Anne Barron, and Frances Liau. Joe is a founding member of the fund and talked about the range of grants they have given since the 1970s.

It was my last gathering and business meeting as coordinator of NWTRCC (this is my new email address), and now after a few days of training Lincoln Rice is fully in the role. But I hope that I will continue to make it to at least some of the NWTRCC gatherings and meetings. I have had so many special experiences during each of two gatherings a year for 15 years, met so many amazing local organizers working on all kinds of issues, and learned a lot about the shared and unique struggles and concerns in each place.

— Ruth Benn, Brooklyn, NY

3 thoughts on “Photo Reflections from LA”

  1. Michael Hughes says:

    Thank you for the warm welcome andf info’ Ruth, enjoy your semi-retirement ? Lol. PEACE !

  2. Ed Hedemann says:

    Very nice!

    The Smedley Butler quote reminds me to the hard-hitting new Buffy Sainte-Marie song, “The War Racket,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzG_4e8yGew.

  3. Ed Hedemann says:

    sorry, I meant “reminds me of”

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