By Liisa Wale
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who made international headlines eight years ago when she camped out in front of former President George W. Bush’s “ranch” to speak out against the war in Iraq, is continuing her mission of peace with a latest project “Tour de Peace”. Sheehan and members of Tour de Peace are biking 3000 miles across the United States. The tour began on April 4, 2013, nine years after Casey Sheehan was killed in Iraq, and 45 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed in Memphis. It will conclude on July 3, 2013, with a ride from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House. (The same day that Bradley Manning’s court martial is scheduled to begin in Fort Meade, Maryland).
The ride began at the grave of her son Casey in Vacaville, California and will end in Washington, D.C. following the mother road, historic Route 66 to Chicago, and other roads from there on to D.C. Bicyclers will join in for all or part of the tour, which will include public events organized by local groups along the way.
Cindy Sheehan said this about the ride:
“We’re riding [and protesting] because, while we may have a Nobel Peace Prize laureate in the White House, we do not have peace. We have expanded presidential war powers, a new type of war fought with flying robots and biweekly meetings in the White House to check names off a “kill list” [which is supported by Arizona Senators Flake and McCain]. We have expanded powers of warrantless spying, imprisonment without trial and retribution against whistleblowers. We objected to these practices when George W. Bush was president; why shouldn’t we object now? The U.S. military presence abroad is expanding into new nations with troops and drones. Military spending is draining our economy dry, as every dollar spent on it could have produced more jobs if spent more wisely, such as on education, infrastructure or green energy (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19771950). Is $170 billion a year for foreign bases among the priorities of people in [Arizona] and across the country?”
The tour plans to arrive in Phoenix, AZ on Saturday, April 20th for two days of protest and events. Those groups helping to organize the Phoenix stop along the route include End the War Coalition, Arizona Alliance for Peace and Justice, CODEPINK Phoenix, Progressive Democrats of America Phoenix, Veterans for Peace Phoenix, and Women In Black Phoenix. On Saturday the ride will join protesters at Senator McCain’s and Senator Flake’s offices to speak out against both Congressmen’s “Support for Unchecked Killer Drones and the Unnecessary Afghanistan and Iraq Wars!” After going to the Senators offices the group will march toward the corner of 24th St & Camelback. Later in the day there will be a potluck fundraiser for Tour de Peace at the home of local supporters.
On Sunday, April 21st the tour will join The Central Phoenix Chapter National Organization of Women, The Military Rape Crisis Center and Veterans for Peace at Garfield Garden Park right off of Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix which is dedicated to those survivors and victims of Military Sexual Trauma. At the garden attention will be brought to concerns over the recent U.S. Air Force decision to transfer a convicted sex offender, Air Force Lt. Col James Wilkerson, to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson and to also highlight The STOP ACT, introduced into Congress by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA).
According to the organizers of Tour de Peace the purpose of the ride is not only to call attention to ending wars & civil-rights violations but the use of fossil fuels, apathy and inaction. “We believe that our nation is too in bed with big oil,” Sheehan said. “We want clean, renewable, sustainable forms of energy developed.” She sold her car seven years ago because she feels that gasoline-dependent travel is a “major detriment to peace.”
In a recent phone interview with NBC in the Bay area Cindy said that “since her son’s death, she has come to believe that many foreign conflicts arise from U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.”
“This is going to be like 90 Camp Caseys, because we’re going to take 90 days to get to Washington”, Sheehan said at tour stop in Palm Springs in reference to her 2005 protest.
Weekend List of Events:
Saturday, April 20th 11am Rally at Senator John McCain’s Office & Senator Jeff Flake’s Office – 2200 E. Camelback. Followed by March to 24th & Camelback. Facebook event here.
Saturday, April 20th 4pm Potluck Fundraiser and Party for Cindy Sheehan from 4pm “and after”: 4886 W. Port Au Prince, home of Ernie and Donna Hancock (One block south of the intersection of Greenway and 47th Avenue).
Sunday, April 21st 11am at the Military Sexual Trauma Garden located in Garfield Garden Park on the NW corner of 6th street and Garfield in downtown Phoenix. Facebook event listing details here.
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