Merrimack Valley People for Peace
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2005 Highlights (see newsletters for details)


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December 2005
On Dec. 2, two MVPP members, Becci Bachman and Don Abbott, spoke at Merrimack College to 2 sociology classes on the topic of Conflict Resolution. They presented information on the global scope of movements for peace and justice, the effectiveness of non-violent struggle in resolving conflict and the role of the military in the "peace movement" today.

On Dec 3, MVPP members attended Congressman Marty Meehan's Town Meeting in Concord, MA. Congressman Meehan stated that he would co-sponsor HR 2410, a bill that calls for medical and scientific studies on the impact of the U.S. military's use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions.

On Dec. 2 - 7, MVPP co-sponsored the speaking tour of Camilo Mejia, the first Iraq war veteran imprisoned for refusing to return to Iraq. Former Staff Sargeant Mejia spoke to 2 gatherings in Lawrence, MA on Dec. 7th. In the afternoon, Camilo spoke to around 80 students at the Lawrence Public Library and in the evening, he spoke to about 50 MVPP members and friends as well as members of the Lawrence community at Christ United Methodist Church. This articulate and thoughtful young man spoke movingly of his journey to honor his conscience in spite of the consequences.

On Dec. 11th, MVPP President, Bobbie Goldman, and Vice- President, Becci Bachman attended the teach-in and organizing conference "Israel/Palestine: Where do we go from here?" The workshop was sponsored by UJP Israel-Palestine Task Force and the Harvard Society of Arab Students.

MVPP has distributed almost 200 counter-recruitment packets, “Think Before You Enlist”, to schools and other organizations working with young people. The packet includes a DVD featuring Iraq war veterans and family members of veterans who tell their stories about the costs of this war. For more information, go to

November 2005

Nov. 3-8 Eyes Wide Open AFSC exhibition on the human costs of the Iraq war featured (a) a pair of boots (over 2000 in all) honoring each US military casualty; (b) a field of shoes; and (c) a Wall of Remembrance to acknowledge the untold number of innocent Iraqi casualties in the conflict. The display was set up first on Boston Common and then moved to Copley Square and some MVPP members assisted in the set-up of this very tragic display of the costs of war.

Fri. Nov. 4 - MVPP co-sponsored journalist Dahr Jamahl in Gloucester, and had lots of table sales

Tues. Nov 8 - Martina Cruz was elected to a seat on the Lawrence School Committee. Martina ran on a counter recruitment platform and distributed opt-out and counter recruitment materials throughout her campaign. Many MVPP members supported her candidacy and volunteered at the polls.

Wed. Nov. 9 – No Child Left Behind for League of Women Voters at Andover Library was attended by three MVPP members. The superintendents of Andover and North Andover spoke about their growing understanding of the Opt Out requirements and access issues for those countering the view presented by military recruiters.

Fri. Nov. 18 -Seven MVPP members joined Katie Lundquist (Andover High senior) and approximately 70 Andover High School students at an hour-long vigil in solidarity with National Stand Down Day. Katie read an eloquent statement calling for any end to the war on Iraq.

Nov. 29 Meeting – prioritized our Camilo events in Lawrence, and all present reached in their pockets to donate about $150 to buy buttons to give to the students at the Camilo event. We agreed to focus on increasing public awareness about DU and to continue with counter-recruitment efforts, especially in Lawrence. Pat Scanlon described his new CD (Blue State Liberal) and requested that we host its unveiling on January 21 at the North Parish Coffee House. Our membership continues to grow.

Nov. 22 MVPP held its annual Stone Soup Dinner at the North Parish Church in North Andover. We shared a simple meal, and raised $325 for Oxfam America. The soup was quite tasty and the company (a group of about 25) superb! After the meal, the film “The Doctor, The Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children” was shown. This film graphically displays the effects of US and British use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq and Bosnia. The film documents the increased incidence of cancer and birth defects in civilians and military personnel who had contact with these weapons or debris.

We continued to gather signatures for the National Guard referendum (trying to get a ballot question on next year’s election to bring the National Guard Home). Unfortunately, the Home From Iraq Now campaign was only able to collect 30, 000 of the needed 100,000 signatures.

October 2005

Fri, Oct. 7th - MVPP was one of the sponsors and numerous members attended the UJP fundraiser in Cambridge, MA honoring Noam Chomsky

We distributed counter-recruitment DVD packets to educators, students, counselors and many others working with youth.

At our monthly meeting, we voted donations to Guatemala and Pakistan, and to defray the cost of the Oct 29th rally.

Wed, Oct 26 – Masood invited MVPP members, friends and family to the Selimiye Camil mosque in Methuen where we participated in ending the daily fast practiced during the holy month of Ramadan.

Sat. October 29 Stop the War Mobilization on The Boston Common. At least a dozen MVPP members joined an estimated crowd of about 2000 demonstrators gathered on the Common to protest the ongoing US occupation of Iraq. Featured speakers included Cindy Sheehan, Felix Arroyo (Boston City Counselor), Gold Star Families for Peace and Klare Allen (2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee). Following the speakers, Cindy Sheehan led a march thru downtown Boston.

September 2005

Bread and Roses Festival: Labor Day
table in Lawrence from 1 pm to 6 pm. Many of the estimated 10,000 attendees visited our booth, signed petitions, picked up literature, and purchased merchandise. Many thanks to Bill Sweet of AFSC for his assistance and literature countering the military's recruitment of our youth.

Paws for Peace Festival: September 11 in Amesbury; we set up our tables at this Festival, organized by "Kids and K9Assist of Amesbury." More than 1,000 adults and kids, along with their tail-wagging friends, visited Woodsom Farm and many stopped by the MVPP booth. They signed petitions, learned about MVPP's activities, and purchased merchandise. Again, our heartfelt thanks to Bill Sweet of AFSC for his able contributions and assistance.

March on Washington, Sept. 24. Over 150,000 (Washington Post est. 9/24. Other estimates are over 300,000) marchers told the government to leave Iraq, now. About a dozen of us were there.
See writeup by Mary and Jim Todd.

We started distributing the counter recruitment packet and DVD, "Think Before You Enlist: A Reality Check"

August 2005 MVPP events supplemented those of UJP with a focus on Hiroshima on Sat. August 6 and a candlelight vigil for Nagasaki on Monday August 8. Many joined the Ratheon vigil Tuesday morning.

August 19, 20, Friday and Saturday: Leafleted at Wakefield against BeNow, Wakefield, MA. BeNow provides a database to help military recruiters.

Cindy Sheehan candlelight vigils: August 17, directed nationally by MoveOn. We had 83 people speaking and singing. MVPP members joined other solidarity vigils in Gloucester (300-310 people), Ipswich (65 people), and Market Square in Newburyport (150+ people). Additionally, about half a dozen members attended the vigil in Boston Common on the previous Saturday evening, August 13; Paul Brailsford, 89, of Ipswich, founding member of Veterans for Peace and long-time MVPP member, was featured in a large photograph in the August 14th Boston Herald, as he asked: “Why did you make this war? Did you make it for oil? Let’s get one big cheer for Cindy.”

July 2005

Lowell Folk Festival: July 28, table from 11 am to 8 pm. With Greater Lowell for Peace and Justice. People sometimes were lined up 3-5 deep for information, including many veterans and military family members.

June 2005

Andover Days June 4
MVPP inaugurated its new canopy at the League of Women Voters' Andover Days, held on the Andover Common. MVPP members talked with newcomers to Andover.

BioLab Regulations Hearing - Rep. Gloria Fox Legislation
On June 9th, Becci and Peter joined more than 300 citizens of Greater Boston in the State House to support Representative Gloria Fox's legislation to regulate Level 2, 3 and 4 so-called "BioSafety Labs." (Level 4 facilities test mostly biological agents for which there is no known antidote or cure). The panel emphasized the need for the proposed legislation, because no other state or local regulations adequately address the accountability for these facilities. The Committee on Natural Resources, which conducted the hearing, asked pointed questions of both the proponents of the legislation and BU's experts. Delay would lead to the facility being built outside of Massachusetts, where opposition is not organized and such legislation might not be demanded.

Cambridge Common - 230th Birthday of the Army June 14
On the 230th Birthday of the US Army, the Cambridge Common hosted an Army encampment, with humvees, paratroopers parachuting from Blackhawk helicopters and an Army recruitment effort. Becci joined the more than 200 demonstrators who ringed the encampment and chanted throughout the ceremony that included Cambridge mayor Michael Sullivan, Army brass, and families of serving and fallen soldiers. Before the ceremony began, three demonstrators, including Joe Gerson of AFSC, were arrested for failure to move quickly enough when ordered to do so by the Cambridge Tactical Police Force (TPF). The chants may not have been polite enough for some in attendance, but as the Army was departing, an Army major thanked Becci and other demonstrators for our presence and message.

Semana Hispana in Lawrence June 18-19,
MVPP again participated in the weekend culmination of Hispanic Week. On Saturday we set up our canopy and tables to distribute counter recruitment materials. We also roamed the throngs distributing literature and buttons ("Students Not Soldiers" and "Demilitarize Our Schools"). Fourteen returned Sunday, to be the lead group (after the Queens of Semana Hispana of various ages) in the Hispanic Week Parade. We carried PEACE flags, periodically chanting "Bring the Troops Home, Now/Bring the Troops Home," and were cheered as we marched. Following the Parade, we again distributed counter recruitment literature. We made valuable contacts for future work in Lawrence.

May 2005

On May 1, 7 MVPPers rode the UJP bus to NYC for the anti-nuclear march to Central Park. Other members met us there or went on their own.

At an Andover vigil, a passer by gave us pictures from a DC memorial display for the now more than 1,600 soldiers killed in Iraq (opens in a separate wwindow).

On May 5, we had our initial meeting with key folks from Lawrence to start to plan counter-recruitment efforts at the High School and at Latino Week festivities.

May 7, MVPP co-sponsored Zac Galen and Laura Imhoff performing at the Coffee House at Locke Street. Zac’s Dad and Laura’s Mom are active members of MVPP, and a good time was had by all.

Click for BIG pictures

We made it to the
National Catholic Reporter
See article

April 2005
We co-sponsored Dave Lippman, AKA George Shrub, the Singing CIA agent at The Coffee House at Locke Street.

On April 9th, a number of us participated in the Death and Taxes march from the IRS to Raytheon in Andover.

We have sold almost nine cases of Palestinian olive oil, to rave reviews.

We continue to have new people join us at our various vigils. The town of Andover is limiting our tabling at Old Town Hall to every other week in spring because of so many other requests to use that area, but they are allowing ushave a vigil with the table further South on Main Street near the Andover Book Store. We can hold a vigil any time at Town Hall without the table.

March 2005 We had a meeting with Prasannan Parthasarathi on March 6 to discuss the BU Bioweapons Lab, including possible strategies to oppose it.

The Buddhist Monks from the Peace Pagoda walked through our area again on the" Walk for a New Spring," encouraging us to contact our mayors to follow the call of Mayor Akiba of Hiroshima to abolish all nuclear weapons.

In spite of bad weather, we enjoyed music and dancing at the
Sing, Swing, Sway and Speak for Peace event.

The Eagle Tribune wrote an article about our vigil on the two year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. (Opens in a separate window: click March 20, then Local, then scroll down)

We went to rallys in NYC Saturday, and Boston Sunday, March 20.

On March 25th, 9 MVPPers attended the vigil in Reading against the death penalty. Afterwards, many of us watched the DVD’s Noble Larson filmed of the Iraqi War Veterans Tour to discuss ways of using it in our counter-recruitment efforts.

February 2005 Iraq Veterans Against the War visited U Mass/Lowell, February 2, on their tour. Four MVPP members attended, and saw Kelly Dougherty.

The 3rd Annual Strategy Conference of United for Justice with Peace took place in Boston on February 7. Four MVPP members attended.

On February 13th, representatives of ten area peace and justice groups met in Lowell to develop concrete strategies to combat military recruitment efforts among youth. Four MVPP members attended.

(more details on above in the March 2005 Newsletter, page 4)

The MVPP board and finance committees met with Peace Vision Project, and decisions were later reached that MVPP would not handle the project's growing financial tasks.

January 2005

We had our January Potluck dinner to which we invited other peace groups and members of the Selimiye Mosque in Methuen, with discussion afterwards asking questions of members of the Mosque. We also collected voluntary donations for Adopt-A-Minefield at the dinner.

A few MVPP members have been participating in a series of workshops on organizational development for peace activists sponsored by UJP. The January workshop focused on racism and classism.

Board members voted to co-sponsor an ad in the Lowell Sun with Groton’s Planning for Peace, explaining about the Not One Damn Dime Campaign, but the Sun refused to publish the ad.

MVPP sent $250 of MVPP funds along with MVPP member, Barbara Haack, who was traveling in Cambodia and Thailand, and she donated it to a very good local group in Indonesia, Named the Society for Health, Education, Environment, and Peace (SHEEP).

Peace Vision Project update.
At the MVPP meeting at the end of October, Jane Cadarette proposed that the organization fund $1,000 to see if it would be possible to bring a young Iraqi woman, Ahlam Nijim, to the U.S. in an effort to restore her sight, lost when she was shot in the face while working for a U.S. reconstruction contractor. Those present at the meeting unanimously voted to allocate this funding, provided an effort was made to replenish the MVPP account with new gifts totaling $1,000. As of January 14, $1,070 has been received from members and friends of the organization.


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Merrimack Valley People for Peace meets monthly, on the fourth Tuesday,
at 7:30 pm,
at North Parish Church, North Andover.

Contact Merrimack Valley People for Peace       (978) 685-1389
            P.O. Box 573
            North Andover, MA 01845

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