VETERANS FOR PEACE, Chapter 23, MINUTES of meeting 6/17/20
Present: Marybeth Knowles, Bruce Pease, Bruce Freeman, Jack Spula, Mick Cole, Lou Montemaggi, Steve Heveron-Smith.
Treasurer’s report by Marybeth Knowles. Current balance--$1009.02; Robert Michael Stuart paid; Marvin Ritzenthaler sent in $100.00; Letter from Marvin to be posted on the Chapter 23 website,
Because it was Steve Heveron-Smith’s first meeting, we all introduced ourselves and described our military and civilian backgrounds.
BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS/RALLIES
Steve Heveron-Smith described the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest/rally he attended in Webster—Assemblyman Mark Johns attended; everyone was wearing masks but no social distancing. There were a few dissenters.
Marybeth Knowles described last Saturday’s (June 13) BLM rally in Rochester. She noted that the crowd was huge, the rally was well-organized, the speakers were good. Robin Wilt spoke. Rallies to be held every Saturday. There was some name-calling.
Jack Spula has gone to three rallies. He noted there will be a rally at Cobbs Hill this coming Saturday (June 20) at noon in an attempt to bring suburban and city residents together. Robin Wilt will be there.
Bruce Pease attended BLM rallies in Rochester and Palmyra.
There was a discussion of Rochester’s decision to cut the police budget by $3 million and to remove police from the schools. Both Marybeth and Bruce P, who were teachers, said the school “sentries” they have encountered have been both good and bad. Some were violent, some related well to the kids. Jack, when he was at Franklin High School doing counter-recruitment, was helped out by a sentry, a veteran, who told the kids not to believe the recruiters.
PAST, CURRENT AND FUTURE ACTIONS BY CHAPTER 23 MEMBERS
Because Steve Heveron-Smith was not familiar with Veterans for Peace, Bruce Pease, Jack Spula, Marybeth Knowles and Lou Montemaggi described some of the past, current and future actions and events, including counter-recruitment, opposing a Rochester military academy in the school district, films and panel discussion at the Brighton library (agent orange), the Gandhi Institute (Scarred Lands, Wounded Lives), the Little Theatre (Witness Palestine—documentary about VFP members in Palestine), a British film now available online (War School, not shown due to COVID-19, possible future panel discussion), Sir, No Sir (shown by the chapter), and Harvest of Empire (about the migration from Latin America to the US--Rochester Committee on Latin America), valor days, weekly online socials, chapter contact conference calls, Save Our VA (SOVA)/Mission Act actions (opposing privatization of the VA), and the upcoming virtual National Convention. Letter from Chapter 23 to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand demanding the reduction of the military budget and the reallocation of those funds to meet social needs (letters are on the Chapter 23 website). Lou talked about his actions aiding migrants at the Arizona/Mexico border, his participation in the School of the Americas (SOA) protests, and his presentation about the Arizona/Mexican border actions (with VFP member Robert Ames) at the Unitarian Church in Rochester. Jack mentioned the March, 2020, Chapter 23 presentation, describing what VFP and Chapter 23 do, at a meeting of the Bath Peace Fellowship in Bath, New York. Lou mentioned the need to attract younger members and noted that the Afghanistan and Iraq veterans have formed their own peace organization, “About Face.” Bruce P mentioned he was attempting to organize zoom meetings with other VFP chapters in New York State.
POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN (PPC) UPDATE---Marybeth Knowles
There will be a digital rally this coming Saturday (June 20, 2020). To register go to www.june2020.org. The Poor People’s Campaign is actively soliciting VFP involvement and is speaking out against outfitting the police with military equipment.
CHAPTER 23 WEBSITE---VFP’S OPPOSITION TO THE PENTAGON’S SUPPLYING MILITARY EQUIPMENT TO POLICE DEPARTMENTS
Bruce Freeman will put the relevant federal statute (authorizing the transfers) and a summary of the so-called “1033 Program” on the Chapter 23 website. He noted that a record of all such transfers, according to the statute, is to be kept on a website. If so, it would be interesting to see what has been transferred to the Rochester Police Department.
Next meeting: July 15, 2020, 7:00 pm---Virtual by Zoom