The Sacramento City Council, by an 8 to 1 vote on November 1, called for “a humane, orderly, rapid and comprehensive withdrawal of United States military personnel and bases from Iraq.”
The Council also asked Congress and President Bush to deliver “promised veterans’ health, education, disability, and rehabilitation benefits, and otherwise meet the needs of returning veterans.”
Sacramento, joins a growing list of cities, including Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia, calling for withdrawal. California’s capital city is the second community in the Central Valley after Davis to support an anti-war resolution.
Council Member Ray Tretheway, a Vietnam veteran, emotionally reflected on his experiences as a returning serviceman before the vote. “It was a dark and difficult time for me as a returning solider,” said Tretheway. “I hope that this time we can say welcome home to our troops sooner than later. I look forward to supporting the troops by bringing them home.”
George Main, president of the Sacramento Chapter of Veterans for Peace, summed up the feelings of the huge crowd that attended to support the resolution. “While we do support all the many sacrifices the troops have made, we do not support sacrificing any more of our troops,” Main said.
Council Members Tretheway and Lauren Hammond sponsored the resolution. The great turnout for the meeting and the massive support for the measure was the result of an unprecedented organizing campaign by the Sacramento Coalition to End the War, including Sacramento Area Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, the Mexican American Political Association, Chicano Consortium, Central America Action Committee, PDA, Sacramento for Democracy National Council of Arab Americans (Sacramento), Sacramento Community Forum and many other organizations.
According to Mayor Heather Fargo, 109 people filled out speaker cards supporting the resolution while only one person, Dave Jenest of “Patriot Watch,” opposed the resolution. Over the weeks before the vote, Fargo said she had received 527 letters or phone calls for the resolution and only 19 in opposition.
“It’s time to take action,” said Fargo before the vote. “In a democracy, it is very important to express yourself when the government is wrong. It is clear that there is a growing concern among residents of our city to develop a humane, orderly and appropriate withdrawal from Iraq.”
Speakers focused on the costs of the war to the City of Sacramento. Past Mayor Ann Rudin said to the Council, “It is cities like Sacramento that will bear the social and economic costs of the war. It is your responsibility to join cities expressing themselves to encourage Congress and the President to do the right thing -- and withdraw from the war in Iraq.”
The cost of the war to Sacramento residents is enormous, costing them a total of $246 million per year, according to Karen Bernal of Sacramento For Democracy.
Lauren Hammond said that the resolution was the best way of expressing “support for the troops.” She said the government’s late and negligent response to Hurricane Katrina exposed how rescuing disaster victims was a much more important thing to spend our federal tax dollars on than incurring more debt in the Iraq war.
“We have introduced the resolution because we love our troops,” Hammond explained. “This is a non-binding resolution. However, non binding resolutions have changed history like in the case of South Africa, where Congress voted against apartheid only after enough cities had said no to apartheid.”
Mayor Fargo and Council Members Tretheway, Hammond, Sandy Sheedy, Steve Cohn, Robert Fong, Kevin McCarty and Bonnie J. Pannell voted for the resolution. Only Robbie Waters voted against it.
Unfortunately, Move America Forward (MAF), an organization that slavishly supports Bush’s war in Iraq, and right wing radio talk show hosts Mark Williams (KFBK Sacramento) and Melanie Morgan (KSFO San Francisco) organized a vicious campaign against the Council the day after the meeting, calling for the Council to rescind the resolution.
Williams and Morgan charged Fargo, Tretheway and Hammond with “supporting the insurgency.” As a consequence, the Mayor and City Council received hate mail and death threats, including a threat of beheading.
MAF claimed the resolution “undermines the mission our troops are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom” in an action alert on their website. The right-wingers also started a radio ad campaign against the Council’s vote the week of November 7.
A big thanks goes out to Tretheway and Hammond for taking the leadership role on the city council for getting this resolution passed -- and to standing up to the campaign by the far right. I also applaud the large number of activists that packed the city council chambers in support of the resolution. It makes me proud to be a member of the progressive community of Sacramento!
Please take the time to send or call messages of thanks to Mayor Heather Fargo and the Sacramento City Council who voted for the resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
It's not the length or profundity of your message that counts -- it's the expression of support for a brave act. Keep it simple -- or write a longer message if you would like. Here's what one local activist sent:
Dear Heather Fargo and the Sacramento City Council,
I am proud to know that Sacramento is led by 8 progressive council people! Thank you for your vote on the resolution to end the war.
Please email or call
Mayor Heather Fargo,
Dan Bacher is an outdoor writer, alternative journalist and satirical song writer from Sacramento, California. He is editor of the Central America Connection and contributes to numerous publications and websites, including Dissident Voice, CounterPunch, Because People Matter and the Sacramento News & Review. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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