Taking It to the streets on GDAMS!

Written and compiled by Janet Weil and Michelle Pineiro

Michelle Pineiro - Los Angeles

April 15, 2015 marked the annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) with events kicking off simultaneously in the United States, after the release of the report about the world’s governments collectively pouring over $1.75 trillion into wars and militarism in 2014.

CODEPINK LA’s Global Day of Action on Military Spending started around 1 pm on Main Street in Santa Monica and later on moved to Abbot Kinney in Venice.

Info graphs detailing the federal fiscal year 2015 budget, along with fliers containing pertinent information on how our tax dollars are spent, were prepared for the occasion. Locals were then asked to write down where they would like to see their tax dollars go (as opposed continuing high levels of military spending) and pose for a picture with their proposals. The purpose of this exercise was to stimulate discussion, and gain feedback from citizens regarding the United States’ exorbitant military spending.

Overwhelmingly people were shocked that military spending received more money than education, science, veterans’ benefits, environment and agriculture combined. Though most passersbys were reluctant to pose for photos, they were open and willing to talk about causes they felt passionate about, and their disappointment over the distribution of our tax dollars.

Local Venetians and Santa Monica residents were fervent in their concerns about the environment and climate change, affordable housing, safe and sustainable food sources and education.

In light of Obama’s proposed 2015 national budget, it has become blaringly clear that despite the financial hardships of various sectors within our economy, military spending has only been marginally affected. When it comes to cutting spending, our leaders have shown that cuts to health, education and other social services are favored, rather than cutting military spending budgets. Only when our leaders and government are prepared to end the proliferate militarization of our nation, and redirect spending into the development of green energy, education and universal comprehensive health care, will we exist in a world that is truly safer for everyone.

Janet’s report - SF Bay Area:

The first person I handed a Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) flyer to was a man in his jammies, on the way to the bathroom: my husband, who accepted it with good grace. Morning flyering for Tax Day, aka GDAMS in the USA, was off to an early start and I was on my way to take photos and hear stories about how it was going at BART (light rail) stations in the East Bay.

On the platform at the Concord station, I got a message from Iraq War veteran/singer-songwriter Emily Yates, who had shown up at MacArthur station with her ukelele to add some music to the mix, that the flyering action had concluded. Wow! 200 flyers shared in about 20 minutes at the Oakland station. I was impressed but would have liked to hear Emily’s uke playing, and say hello to CODEPINK organizer Eleanor Levine and 2 friends she had recruited for the action, one of about 30 in the Bay Area. We were all handing out flyers produced by the New Priorities Campaign.

At my first stop, Walnut Creek, I met up with a few buddies from the Mt Diablo Peace and Justice Center who were having sort of a tough time. Two of them had been asked to leave the nearby Pleasant Hill station, for no good reason, by a BART employee. Commuters were rushing to catch their SF-bound trains, and mostly not interested in being reminded how much of their tax dollars were going to the military. At Orinda BART, Karl was flyering solo and having a good time. He reported that the flyers were going quickly as people went to work. We took photos of each other and I tweeted them out, making sure to use @Demilitarize Day - which resulted in a quick retweet.

Mid-day, I met up with longtime CODEPINK-er, Professor Brenda Hillman, at the lovely St Mary’s College in Moraga. Brenda has been organizing a peace and justice vigil on campus for years. She was just putting out signs including the oldie-but-goodie “Make Love Not War” when I arrived at the Peace Pole link. I handed out flyers to her, a medical doctor who’s a regular at the vigil, his college student son, and other students as we chatted about various matters including the Iran Deal. A college communications officer dropped by to take photos, while one of Brenda’s students, an Iraq War veteran who was thrilled to announce his acceptance into an English PhD program, took the flyer with agreement at its messages.

In the late afternoon, the regular weekly CODEPINK SF vigil started as artist/banner-maker Martha Hubert and I tied the huge PEACE banner to the fence near the Montgomery BART station. Martha and an activist with Occupy SF Action Council, Adrienne, passed out flyers on both sides of Market Street, and other activists held signs, mostly about Yemen, and talked with passersby.  A man from Saudi Arabia stopped by to argue and say he “loves” his king and the bombing is only killing Houthis -- assertions which were promptly refuted by a CODEPINK-er who’s been to Yemen seven times in recent years. A few people mentioned that they had received the GDAMS flyer in the morning, from earlier flyering actions.

Leslie Harris -- Dallas, Texas:

As part of the Dallas TAX DAY Demonstration to say: “Human Needs, Not War & Militarism" on April 15, 2015, the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, members of North Texas Veterans For Peace and CODEPINK Dallas joined postal workers to share information at the Dallas Main Post Office.

Earlier, two of the activists had held signs in front of the main entrance for about 20 minutes while carrying on a discussion with postal police about whether or not citizens had the right to free speech on post office property. The discussion was photographed by DEMOTIXWe were bullied, lied to, threatened with arrest and grabbed by the wrist.  We were told we could hold signs on the grassy area, far away from the building, but when we came back after dark to do a light brigade display right there, we were accosted again by the same police officer, who again bullied, threatened and made up his own rules.

There was a happy ending, though. At the end of the evening, just as the officer was grabbing our light boards and attempting to physically remove us, his colleague called him over to calm him down. Shortly thereafter, a very cordial and professional Postal Inspector appeared and calmly explained that we were, indeed, allowed to stand in front of the post office and offer flyers to passersby.

Edwina Vogan - Phoenix, AZ:

Phoenix Tax Day - Felt like West Texas with the wind bending our signs and banners, but it was necessary and important to stand on the corner where the Phoenix main post office is located. Hundreds were dropping off their tax returns and we had the chance to exchange words, peace gestures and smiles to the people in their cars as they drove right by us. Our signs reminded people of where some of their money goes when they pay taxes. Bring our tax dollars home - end the perpetual state of war!

Click here to see more CODEPINK GDAMS pictures!



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