Antiwar activists from around the country will
celebrate Mothers' Day by converging on Washington, DC, where they will demand
Congress end the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Five days of activism, sponsored by the women-for-peace group CODEPINK and
"peace mom" Cindy Sheehan's Gold Star Families for Peace, will culminate
in what organizers call a "Mother of a March" on May 14.
"We want to get people out and get them active," said Tina Richards
of Salem, Missouri. "We're getting in the way [and saying] no more business
as usual until you pass legislation that brings our troops home and takes care
of them when they get back."
Richards brings her own war story to the week of action. Her son Cloy is a
Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq. The military lists him as 80-percent
"He's got knee injuries, arm injuries, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,"
Richards said. "He's also got another claim pending for a traumatic brain
injury, which will put him at 100-percent disabled."
Richards said her son sustained most of his injuries after his first tour in
Iraq, adding the family protested his second deployment but to no avail. After
four years on active duty, Cloy Richards is now in the individual ready reserve
and faces the possibility of a third deployment to Iraq.
Tina Richards said she can't believe the military would even consider that.
"It's something that affects us every single day," she said, "when
he's 23 years old and he can't even climb the stairs. He has bad nightmares
where he thinks he's back in Iraq. Last week, he punched out all his windows
and cut major arteries. He had to go to the hospital because he almost bled
Personal trauma has turned Richards into an activist. She traveled to Washington
for large antiwar demonstrations in January and has rarely left since.
On April 16 she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in connection
with a boisterous demonstration inside the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
on Capitol Hill.
The Mothers' Day protests also promise to feature civil disobedience. Richards
told OneWorld the organizers have only applied for one permit for their five
days of protest for the march on Congress May 14. A handful of House members
are scheduled to speak.
According to the CODEPINK Web site, women and families are also expected to
rally in over 50 U.S. cities this weekend to oppose the war in Iraq.
In addition to military mothers like Tina Richards and Cindy Sheehan, the Washington
demonstrations will feature musician Willie Nelson's wife Annie, actor Ed Asner's
wife Cindy, and actress and film director Kamala Lopez.
Richards said she draws inspiration partly from the actions of a few liberals
in Congress, among them Representative John Lewis of Georgia.
Lewis, who was one of only a few Democrats to vote against Pelosi's $100 billion
plan to continue funding the Iraq war with conditions, worked with civil rights
leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In explaining his vote on the House floor, Lewis said of King: "If he
could speak today, he would say this nation needs a revolution of values that
exposes the truth that war does not work. If he could speak today, he would
say that war is obsolete as a tool of our foreign policy."
"Tonight I must make it plain and clear that as a human being, as a citizen
of the world, as a citizen of America, as a member of Congress, as an individual
committed to a world at peace with itself, I will not and I cannot in good conscience
vote for another dollar or another dime to support this war," Lewis said.
Lewis' words inspired Richards' civic activism.
"John Lewis told me that the only way they were able to win on civil rights
issues was because they were in DC throwing sand into the gears of government,"
Richards said. "They just kept getting in the way and getting in the way
until they finally got done what had to be done and so that's what we're doing."
On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced it had alerted more than 35,000 Army soldiers
that they could be sent to Iraq this fall.
Some 3,378 U.S. service members have been killed since the Bush administration
launched the invasion of Iraq four years ago. Over 600,000 Iraqi civilians have
died as a result of the war in their country, according to the only scientifically
rigorous study conducted to determine Iraqi casualties.
More than 100,000 U.S. service members are currently receiving disability payments
from the Federal government.