What does it stand for? Where is its mission statement? Where did it come from? None of this matters. What does matter is that the occupiers are asking the right questions. Their signs express their dissatisfaction at the inequities existing in this country where 1% of the population owns 40% of the property; where 400 families possess the same amount of wealth among them as the entire bottom 150 million families possess among them. They are a testimony to the fact that human needs are secondary to military wants with $3 billion allocated to the military every single day while people cannot afford basic medical care and homeless shelters are unable to meet demands.
In order to solve a problem, it has first to be enunciated. The problem is enormous and it is being addressed through the presence of these groups all across the country. The groups’ method of organizing could be comparable to that of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM). When a small group of Twin Cities women began meeting thirty years ago, disturbed at the growing militarism of the United States—especially at the manufacture and stockpiling of nuclear weapons—there was no model, no organization addressing the issue. After a year of monthly meetings the women decided to act and WAMM was born. Step by step the organization grew to be the one we know today.
The Occupation movement has been born and is taking its first steps. How else could it happen but spontaneously? WAMM members have responded. Some WAMM members have been down to the site every day; mittens, caps, batteries, blankets, and bedrolls have been donated; hot food has been delivered and members have spent the night on the Government Center lawn. At least one member has been faithfully attending the daily general assembly meetings.
The Occupation is a classless group. There are homeless or about to be homeless people with mortgages that are being foreclosed. As a result there have been actions attempting to stop foreclosures. They are joined by college graduates faced with enormous tuition debts, as well as many others who can no longer abide the injustice of our current condition. Politicians cannot ignore this movement. It is not just a “sign”— it is an embodiment of hope.
Editorial Note: For current information about Occupy Minneapolis, go to occupyminneapolis.mn, the official website of Occupy Minneapolis. The People’s Plaza is not currently being occupied with the change in weather, but there are many activities, some at the Plaza, others in other parts of the city. The OccupyMN website also has articles and the OccupyMN Facebook page has postings. Another Facebook page is OccupyHomesMN.
Whealthy Village is a project created by Occupiers. The blog site is whealthyhumanvillage.blogspot.com and on Facebook, whealthyhumanvillage.
U.S. Bases in Asia: Yankee Go Home!
By Polly Mann WAMM Newsletter Dec 2011/Jan 2012
Of all the Twin Cities publications covering ethnic communities, the Korean Quarterly stands out. It is more a magazine than a newspaper in its content, colored illustrations, photographs and the use of many writers. In its Fall 2011 edition is a lengthly article, “Of Bases and Budgets,” by Christine Ahn of the Korean Policy Institute and Hyun Lee of the National Campaign to End the Korean War (originally published by Foreign Policy in Focus.October 6, 2011. fpif.org) which provided much of the material for this column.
The article points out that for 66 years there have been U.S. troops in South Korea. That number today is 28,500. A recent sexual assault case involving a U.S. soldier has exacerbated the growing dissent over this occupation. It began in 1992 when a U.S. soldier, Kenneth Markle, brutally murdered 27-year old Keum E. Yoon. It wasn’t the first such crime.
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According to the National Campaign for the Eradication of Crimes by U.S. troops in Korea, U.S.soldiers have committed tens of thousands of crimes against South Koreans since the beginning of the occupation in 1945. However, these soldiers are exempt from being charged under South Korean laws because of an agreement with the United States. They are turned over instead to the U.S. military which tries them.
Some years ago WAMM was host to several women from Okinawa where the same situation exists. In addition Okinawans were disturbed by the noise and the pollution from several U.S. air bases there and were attempting to have them removed. The people of Guam are likewise resisting the presence of U.S. military bases and especially a proposed plan to transfer 8,000 U.S. marines from Okinawa to Guam. The Pentagon received an unprecedented 10,000 comments of concern in 2009 about the planned Guam build-up.
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is working on legislation that would reduce overseas military personnel in Europe and Asia. He also recommends canceling the deployment to Guam from Okinawa of 8,600 U.S. Marines and their 9,000 dependents. The Sustainable Defense Task Force proposes to cut military forces in East Asia which would save billions in taxpayer dollars. Here, in Minnesota, we could initiate a campaign encouraging our U.S.representatives and senators to support these reductions.
Polly Mann is a co-founder of Women Against Military Madness and a regular contributor and columnist for the WAMM newsletter. She is active in the organization and serves on the WAMM Newsletter Committee.