St. Pete for Peace celebrates "10 years of resistance"

03/08/13 Seán Kinane
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One of the most active anti-war groups in the Tampa Bay area is celebrating ten years of resistance Saturday.

We spoke with Chris Ernesto, a co-founder of St. Pete for Peace, about what they've done since 2003 and what's to come for the anti-war and social justice group.

At the anniversary celebration hey will debut a film about their ten years of activism.

It's at 7 p.m. Saturday March 9 at L-Train, 900 Central Ave. in St. Pete.

"Ten years ago before the Iraq war started we took a trip to Washington D.C. We organized buses to take part in the protest before the Iraq war started and on our way back we sat to eat dinner and the media said that there was 10,000 people there. We had done a small count and there was a minimum of 225,000 people so we realized that it was going to be incumbent upon us as a people to get the word out and decided that from that point on we would be protesting twice a week in St. Petersburg."

What types of issues and actions have you done in the last 10 years and what are you concentrating on today?

"The Iraq war obviously was an impetus but in a short time we realized that there was a wide range of issues. We had to focus on Iraq for a long time because that was either just about ready to happen or was going on, but we branched out into Afghanistan and Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, of course Palestine. There was a coup of Haiti that we participated in actions and the Israeli aggression against Lebanon. We're constantly speaking out on the aggressive rhetoric towards Iran but because it's not just foreign policy that we're interested in we've reached out into a wide range of areas in order to form solidarity with other groups but also because that's what we believe in. Things like the BP oil spill and the bailouts. We've been very active with the homeless community and we're involved in the tent cities there. We did 'Food not Bombs' feedings for a few years. With the LGBT community, with immigrants rights, with the Koran burning, with police killings in St. Petersburg, with the torture photos that we're trying to get released, with weapons manufacturers in the Tampa Bay area. Of course with Wikileaks and a bottom line has been our struggle for free speech."

This weekend you're celebrating your 10th anniversary. Give us the details.

"After 10 years it's passed by so quickly that we realize it's time to celebrate a victory. It crept up on us, we hadn't really paid much attention so we're going to get together this Saturday night at the L-Train on Central Avenue in St. Pete. we're going to have a raffle and music and cake and just have a good time and bring everybody together and show acknowledgement to everyone who's participated to it to make this happen and just kind of enjoy each other's company for an evening."

Here are some of our previous stories on St. Pete for Peace.

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