On Wednesday, April 15 (Tax Day), the Portland chapter of the War Resisters League held an action downtown in which they announced the distribution of tax money away from war to peaceful projects. The chapter had collected $12,430 from local people who were choosing to redirect what the U.S. Federal Government says they are supposed to pay in taxes.
While schools suffer budget cuts, social services are slashed, and people go hungry and without adequate health care, the government is spending over half the federal budget on war, weaponry, and the military. This misprioritization is a criminal act against the people of the United States and the world, and activists downtown referred to it as a War on the Poor.
Six local projects recieved a cut of the money to further anti-war organizing: Crossroads, a homeless advocacy organization; St. Francis Dining Hall, which feeds hungry people; the Portland Peace Alliance, which has been putting on the large peace rallies in the area; the Mennonite Central Committee, which sends activists to Iraq to bear witness to the crimes to the crimes of the U.S. government military; Voices in the Wilderness, which has been drawing attention to the plight of the Iraqi people for the last 12 years; and portland indymedia, which you're reading right now.
I accepted the check on behalf of portland indymedia and said it was one of the greater honors of my life to be involved with a project that is getting the War Resisters nod of approval. And I meant it. It was quite astounding to find portland indymedia in the company of these other great projects and organizations. The money will be used to relaunch the website and help get computer equipment to activists in South America, among other things.
The War Restisters also spent $400 buying bulk and canned food for Blanchet House, which provides meals every day to hungry people. As part of the day's action, participants marched from Pioneer Square to the Blanchett House (on 4th and Glisan) with a row of shopping carts filled with the food. We got a lot of attention from people on the street and handed out literature showing how much of the federal budget goes to murderous war-making. It was a great action and the police presence was zero. That's right, zero. It was the first time in over a month that I'd been downtown and no seen cops. I had just about forgotten what it was like.
Everyone who participated seemed to feel good about the action.
The folks in Blanchett House were very grateful for the donation and invited us to come eat there sometime.
All in all, this was a great day, combining public education, creativity, and real action. Viva la War Resisters!