continued "What you see here," says Gordon, "is a potpourri of issues. But we're all here united behind one thing, and that's stop the bombing. That's very clear and we hope to see more and more people joining the demonstration in the coming weeks. I think a lot of people out there are getting over the initial wave of media propaganda. Somehow support for the refugees became translated into support for the bombing. I think that people see that the bombing now is not only ineffective but it is targeting the civilians at this point in time, the civilian infrastructure. These are war crimes. We can't let that go on in our names."
"I think our elected officials have a lot to learn from this," the Peace and Freedom chairperson adds. "I've been watching the congressional debates about what's going on, and we're a better group working together out here than our elected officials. Everyone here understands that to bomb to create peace is another contradiction in terms and only causes resentment. Historically, look at what we did to Japan, Native-Americans -- the resentment just goes on for years and years and years. There's no way you can say, 'We're going to kill you and your people so you will be nice.' "
"I'm sure we would be equally upset," says Gordon, "if nothing were done about ethnic cleansing. But why did our government support policies that led to ethnic cleansing? Why was there no strong, international diplomatic initiative taken before that point?"
"Why don't we apply that concern to the situation in Chiapas?" Jordan asks. "The Zapatistas, who have been extremely abused by the government and the policies that our U.S. government also supports. They are being ethnically cleansed, if we want to use that term. Is it because they have brown skin? Is it because they are very, very impoverished people and we want to ignore them? Is it because of NAFTA? If we're going to save the world we need to save everybody -- and I'm being very sarcastic."
Gordon produces a chart that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on April 3, 1999: "World's Ethnic Crisis: The Kosovo crisis is not the only ethnic conflict that has created waves of refugees and claimed large numbers of victims over the past year..." Eleven countries are listed including Sudan with 1.5 million killed and 4.3 million uprooted, Rwanda: 500,000 to 800,000 killed, 3.5 million uprooted. Kosovo is at the bottom of the list with 2000 killed and 459,000 uprooted, this last figure representative of displaced persons before the U.S./NATO attacks.
"Very selective humanitarian concern," says the Peace and Freedom chairperson. "One theory that I believe is that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank wanted to go into Yugoslavia and do a lot of development of natural resources. To my understanding there was a very strong network of Albanians, Serbians, Croatians, the working class who stood together and actually kept them from developing land, kept them out. I believe the crisis was amplified out of that."
The Coalition to Stop the Bombing demonstration resumes every Saturday at noon at Fourth and Broadway. "Everybody's welcome as long as they agree to stop the bombing, stop the war," says Gordon. "Also, there is another weekly vigil at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday at the same location. It is the silent vigil for peace organized by a number of churches and the Serbian-American community."
No permits were requested or believed necessary for the protests. When it is suggested that getting busted might be helpful in drawing attention, the Peace and Freedom Party chairperson merely turns her head sideways and smiles.
Meanwhile, four days later on Wednesday, a boisterous crowd at least four times the size of the peace demonstrators has gathered at the same location with lawn chairs and coolers in the name of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.