Peace activists deliver varied anti-war messages at USF Tampa
As part of a national anti-war initiative called April Days of Action Against Drones and Occupation, some USF students and community activists are reaching out for peace. During a rally today representatives from different groups passed out literature to students on the Tampa campus. Tampa Bay Bradley Manning Support Network’s Bill Livsey defended whistle-blowing by drawing attention to Manning’s prosecution.
“What we can do to honor his sacrifice and bravery by releasing this information is have the conversation he wanted the world to have about what’s really going on and make a difference in our foreign policy and the way we treat populations in the Middle East.”
Private First Class Bradley Manning admitted to leaking information to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks about things that were happening during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Livsey thinks Manning’s actions were above his pay grade.
“But I also think that there comes a point where moral conscience trumps military procedure. He release nothing that would have given anybody who received the information any heads up on any American troop locations, on any future plans. All he released was information on the act of conspiracy to defraud the American people about what we were doing and why we were there and he showed us video evidence of the killing of civilians.”
Livsey says that’s why his message fits in with the overarching theme of ending American wars.
“So then is there any wonder why we have generation after generation of people throughout the developing world and especially in the Middle East who have an active and very real resentment toward the United States.”
A student-led group set up shop at the rally to ask their peers to support the licenses for all campaign. Currently, undocumented immigrants cannot obtain a driver’s license. USF senior Estefania Galvis says that leaves immigrants with only two choices: don’t drive or break the law. Both she argues leave them at a disadvantage.
“When they go to their houses from home to work or from school to work, they take the risk of getting stopped and getting deported for such. So, what is happening is a lot of families are being disrupted and separated because of these deportations.”
Galvis is a legal immigrant who was granted asylum from Columbia. She says letting undocumented individuals obtain driving privileges in the United States is just a small part of a much bigger solution. She also worries about the way immigrants are treated, especially those who are fleeing from countries where the United States has militarized.
“We’re here and we come here to people who created the circumstances and we’re also oppressed and we’re also treated like we’re not human, like as if we’re aliens because that’s what they call us.”
Other groups put up various anti-war signs around campus saying things like ‘free Palestine’ and ‘no drones’. Students for a Democratic Society’s Gage Lacherite says the U.S. overstates international threats especially lately with reports of nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea.
“This happens all the time with the United States where we go, ‘we’re ready to go against this megalomaniac’ and it always – look at Iraq and Afghanistan, they happened ten years ago and it’s the exact same thing that’s happening again in Iran and North Korea.”
He also thinks President Barack Obama may have slipped up in a statement yesterday when he said any attack on a civilian is an act of terror.
“Drones have been killing civilians since 2008. We’ve had, in Syria … the idea that the United States is totally exempt from killing civilians as an act of terror is completely ridiculous because we do similar things.”
Some of the groups will hold individual meetings this week. The Licenses for all campaign will meet Thursday at 9 a.m. to speak during public comment at the Tampa City Council meeting. The Tampa Bay Support Bradley Manning Network will meet Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. The group Food not Bombs also fed pasta and vegetables to anyone who was hungry.
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