Atlanta Council Backs US Department of Peace (UPDATE 1)
By Robert Soloway, Staff Writer, The Atlanta Progressive News
(APN) ATLANTA — The City Council of Atlanta has voted 12-2 to support a resolution calling for a US Department of Peace, The Georgia Alliance for a US Department of Peace announced at a press conference today on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol.
The US Department of Peace, championed by US Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) during his 2004 US Presidential Campaign, would be at the Cabinet level complete with a US Secretary of Peace.
The resolution was introduced April 17, 2006, by Councilwoman Felicia Moore and passed the City Council on May 1, by a landslide 12-2 vote.
Those voting against the legislation were Council Members Anne Fauver (District 6) and Howard Shook (District 7). Councilman Kwanza Hall (District 2) was absent.
The timing of the conference, around Mother’s Day, is part of a nationwide series of events sponsored by The Peace Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization devoted to building support for passage of The Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act.
The US Congressional bills to create a US Department of Peace and Nonviolence are S 1756 in the US Senate and HR 3760 in the US House.
S 1756 was introduced by US Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) and is co-sponsored by US Senator James Jeffords (I-VT). Unfortunately, both of these US Senators are retiring and not running for reelection this year.
HR 3760 was introduced by US Rep. Kucinich and has 63 additional co-sponsors. Fortunately, Rep. Sanders (I-VT), who is likely to be elected to the seat being vacated by Senator Jeffords, is one of the House co-sponsors.
Georgia’s US Congressional delegation includes only two co-sponsors of the bill, the usual suspects, US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Cynthia McKinney (D-GA).
The event today honors the tradition of Mother’s Day for Peace, which was envisioned by Julia Ward Howe. Mrs. Howe nursed soldiers during the American Civil War and then after the war saw the effects on widows and children. This inspired her to call for a Mother’s Day of Peace, which evolved into our modern holiday.
Speakers at the press conference represented groups that deal with violence on every level of society: mothers, faith-based organizations, veterans, youth, advocates for the homeless, domestic violence awareness advocates, and representatives of the health care industry.
Besides Dr. Tarr, the State Coordinator for the Georgia Alliance for a Department of Peace, the speakers included Lisa McLeod, nationally syndicated humor writer and her daughter Elizabeth McLeod, 13.
Elizabeth read from an essay she had written in which she totaled the cost in actual “parent-hours” it takes to raise a child to the age of 18. All that work, she pointed out, becomes wasted when a child is killed in war. Ms. McLeod’s father, Jay Earle, a 69 year-old navy veteran, also gave his support.
Other speakers included Malika Robins, Atlanta Collaborative Kitchen & Project Open Hand; Rev. Rex Kaney, Druid Hills United Methodist Church; Imam Plemon El-Amin, Atlanta Masjid of Al Islam; Hadayai S Majeed; Baitul Salaam, National Domestic Violence Awareness Organization; Ed Arnold, Physicians for Social Responsibility; Attorney Don Edwards, host of Every Church a Peace Church; Bert Skellie, The Interfaith Atlanta Coalition; Dick Bathrick, Men Stopping Violence; Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Congregation Bet Haverim; and Geshe Wangden Tashi, Drepung Loseling Institute, who spoke through a translator.
The speakers were warmly received by a small but very enthusiastic crowd. Common among the religious representatives was the belief that in all faiths, “Peacemakers are the children of God”.
Dr. Tarr is delighted the City Council has passed the resolution so easily, she told Atlanta Progressive News in an interview. She expects the Mayor will also announce her support of the measure soon.
Dr. Tarr also believes that Decatur and Roswell might be the next two Georgia cities to have such a resolution introduced, followed by Athens in the near future.
As the press conference ended and the rain set in, the participants headed off the City Hall to deliver apple pies to the Mayor’s Office as well as to all the Council Members to thank them for their support.
The pies were symbolic of the piece of the federal ‘pie’ that the Department of Peace is requesting.
The suggested budget would be approximately 8 Billion dollars, or about 2% of the Defense Department budget. This expense would cover programs to address violence in our society from a local to an international level.
Violence at any level of society leads to violence at all levels of society, many speakers today reiterated. If our children were educated in conflict resolution, they would grow up with the skills needed to live more peaceful lives. When a child witnesses violence at home and in their community they grow with the idea that violence is a part of life. A common theme today was war is not inevitable; peace is.
EXCERPTS OF THE BILL:
RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF A U.S. DEPARTMENT OF PEACE AND NONVIOLENCE
WHEREAS, the Department of Peace and Nonviolence will be headed by a Secretary of Peace who will advise the President on issues that are both domestic and international in scope;
WHEREAS, the Department of Peace and Nonviolence will consist of seven (7) offices including: An Office of Peace Education and Training, An Office of Domestic Peace Activities; An Office of International Peace Activities; An Office of Technology for Peace; An Office of Arms Control and Disarmament; An Office of Peaceful Coexistence and Nonviolent Conflict Resolution; An Office of Human Rights and Economic Rights;
WHEREAS, the Department of Peace and Nonviolence will benefit the City of Atlanta by holding peace as an organizing principle for the American Society, which will change the tone of the society;
WHEREAS, the Department of Peace and Nonviolence will benefit the City of Atlanta by developing new programs that relate to the societal challenges of domestic violence, school violence, guns, racial or ethnic violence, violence against gays and lesbians, and police-community relations disputes, which will assist members of our Police Department in experiencing fewer dangerous encounters especially while making routine runs;
WHEREAS, the Department of Peace and Nonviolence will benefit the City of Atlanta by encouraging the development of initiatives from the community, its religious groups and its non-governmental organizations, which will cause greater community involvement thereby creating a stronger city;
WHEREAS, the Department of Peace and Nonviolence will benefit the City of Atlanta by directing funds to the states and cities to assist in developing and implementing new initiatives to reduce violence;
WHEREAS, City Councils in 13 cities have passed resolutions in support of the U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence, including Detroit, MI; Hamtramck MI; Phoenix, AZ; Cleveland, OH; Berkeley, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; Palo Alto, CA; San Jose, CA; Sabastopol, CA; Oakland, CA; Cambridge, MA; Lincoln City, OR; Kauai County, HI;
WHEREAS, citizens from 12 countries gathered in London, UK in October of 2005 to further the cause of establishing Departments and Ministries of Peace, and five countries have active citizen campaigns to establish such institutions, including Australia, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States;
WHEREAS, the City of Atlanta is home to internationally recognized peace institutions, including The Carter Center and The King Center…
About the author:
Robert Soloway is a Staff Writer and the Opinions Editor for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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